Same-sex couple denied family medical leave in Arizona

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by Jay Crandall

azfamily.com

Posted on March 12, 2013 at 5:03 PM

Updated Tuesday, Mar 12 at 5:04 PM

PHOENIX -- It is a choice no one should have to make, take care of a sick family member and lose your job or keep your job and leave your loved one alone.

That is exactly why the federal government passed the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) 20  years ago.

But as one couple found out, family is a relative term.

“Family is who you live with,” said Mark Moore,  “who you are married to.”

And Moore is married to Bill Bogle.

Bill recalls the day they married.


”2008...that's when we went over to California...Palm Springs, Aug. 29, 2008 and got married,” said Bogle.

Their marriage certificate is proudly displayed on the wall along with photos marking their time together. 

They take their committment  seriously.

“This is my husband, said Moore. "This is the person I love, and I want to take care of him. I should take care of him.”

So when Bogle found out he needed back surgery Moore was ready to be there for the two weeks doctors said it would take to recover. He applied for family medical leave under FMLA, "in order to be home to take care of him," Moore said.

 

“Because this is my husband, this is my responsibility, I want to be here for him," said Moore. "And I was denied my FMLA.”

Mark who works for an Arizona county was denied leave.

 

“Arizona just doesn't recognize same sex marriages,” says family law attorney David Higgins, "and as such when you call it a void marriage, it's like there is no marriage."

Higgins says while Arizona will recognize marriages from other states, Bill and Mark's marriage doesn't count under state statute.

“It's a same sex marriage which under Arizona law is void and prohibited,” said Higgins.

And since FMLA says leave is only guaranteed for spouses, children or  parents, Mark and Bill were left with a tough choice.

“It hits home because I am actually having surgery," says Bogle, “and I actually need somebody here to take care of me.”

Moore adds, “Do I stay home and take care of my spouse or do I go to work and leave them there.  If I stay home I may lose my job. I don't have the protection.”

We did ask Moore's employer and they say they have to follow Arizona law.

And Moore says that is one of the reasons they got married.

“Because we wanted the rights and protections of marriage. “


And they say those protections should not end at the state line.

“Because this is my husband, this is my responsibility, I want to be here for him,” says Moore,
adding, “its not ok.” 

 

Echoed by Bogle, “ No it's not , fair.”

Moore says his employer did work with him to get some of the time off he needs. But Bogle who has now had surgery worries about what will happen when Moore goes back to work, because for now he can’t get around on his own.

They point out that any non-related caregiver for children or any unmarried couple could find themselves in the same situation, choosing between their job and their loved one.


Bogle says, “I wanted people to see that I am your next door neighbor, this is happening right next door to you, it is happening all over the city.”

 


 

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