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DALLAS - Gay employees in Dallas County could take unpaid leave to care for a same-sex partner under a proposal that would sidestep the Texas ban on same-sex marriage.

The proposal is expected to win approval from county commissioners in the coming weeks. The city of Dallas already has a similar policy in place.

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins told The Dallas Morning News in a story published Saturday that broadening the categories for family leave promotes a stronger community.

No opposition surfaced when commissioners first discussed the issue in December. Under the proposal, any employee could select one nonrelative as a designated care recipient.

A federal judge has ruled the Texas ban on gay marriage unconstitutional, but the law remains while similar cases in other states work through the courts.

"A policy like this is important," said Rafael McDonnell, a local gay rights activist who proposed the change to county leaders. "This allows county employees to never have to make a choice between the families they love and the jobs they are hired to do."