Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Iowa Department of Corrections Reverses Decision // Allows Prison Guard Sick Time to Care for her Sick Wife

Here's a feel good story coming out of Iowa City.  The ACLU successfully assisted a prison guard named Teresa Heck reverse a Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) denial to care for her cancer-stricken wife, Rebecca Andrews.  The Iowa Department of Corrections originally denied her FMLA request, citing the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which prevents the federal government from recognizing the legal marriages of gay and lesbian couples:
The ACLU agreed to take Heck’s case and asked the Iowa Attorney General to review state policy related to the dispute. As a result of that action, the Department of Corrections has decided to allow Heck her sick leave, the ACLU said in a statement.

“This is a victory for fairness and equality for all legally married Iowans,” said Randall Wilson, legal director of the ACLU of Iowa. “It also sets a precedent for other state agencies, making it clear that discriminating against workers based on sexual orientation is not acceptable.”
A hearing by the US Senate is assessing the impact of DOMA on American families.  The Heck/Andrews FMLA denial is being presented as an exampleof the harm that gay families experience because of DOMA.  Ultimately, this hearing could be the first step in the long walk towards repealing the federal DOMA law.

Sadly, someone in the comments section of the article linked above has already asked "When will Iowa reverse it's (sic) decision on the legality of same sex marriages?".  I am still unsure how America is hurt when a woman is allowed to go home and care for the woman she loves while she recovers from ovarian cander.  How are heterosexual families harmend when a sick spouse is cared for by her wife?  Unfortunately, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley is working hard to make sure that DOMA stays in place and that families like the Heck/Andrews family continue to struggle against oppressive and hard-hearted federal rules.

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