It's been a long time coming, but finally, the state legislature seems on its way to approving a gender-neutral maternity leave law.

The Senate has approved the measure, which has now gone on to the House.

While the mother clearly bears the bulk of joys and challenges that come with pregnancy and delivery, the notion that only she should be given time off following the birth is severely outdated.

A large percentage of women work outside the home now. The idea that only she can care for the newborn baby, too, is outdated. Fathers must and are assuming roles previously held by women. As she moved outside the home to pursue her own career and contribute to the family's financial well-being, so must he now share the household responsibilities. All such tasks should be gender-neutral.

More importantly, though, is the need for both parents to bond with the new baby. Babies grow so quickly. Miss the time of holding the warm and helpless little bundle close to your heart, and you will miss it forever.

Family situations these days are diverse. No longer can it be assumed that Mom will be home and Dad will be out working. Both parents must be able and willing to care for the children, and that should start on day one.

Whichever parent chooses to stay home with the baby should have the right to do so.

Hopefully, the male-dominated House will agree.