The Department of Labor issued an order on Tuesday clarifying that parental rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act apply to gays and lesbians “regardless of the legal or biological relationship” of their children. Under the law, public and private employers must allow employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period to care for a sick or newly born or adopted child.

Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis said, “”No one who steps in to parent a child when that child’s biological parents are absent or incapacitated should be denied leave by an employer because he or she is not the legal guardian. No one who intends to raise a child should be denied the opportunity to be present when that child is born simply because the state or an employer fails to recognize his or her relationship with the biological parent. These are just a few of many possible scenarios. The Labor Department’s action today sends a clear message to workers and employers alike: All families, including LGBT families, are protected by the FMLA.”