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Family Equality Council On FMLA: Protecting Our Families When They’re Most Vulnerable

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This guest article is by Emily Hecht-McGowan, Director of Public Policy for Family Equality Council.

Today, we are celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and the inclusion of our families in this important law. Since 1993, Americans have accessed benefits under FMLA over 100 million times, and we’ve worked hard as a community to make sure this protection extends to our lives and our families.

What is the Family & Medical Leave Act?

FMLA is the only federal law that allows workers to take leave without endangering their job. Eligible workers can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for health conditions, to bond with a new child, or to care for an ill family member.

Because of our work with the US Department of Labor and our national coalition partners, the FMLA coverage was expanded in 2010 to allow non-legally recognized parents to take leave when their children are sick. In other words, due to this change many of our families now have access to this critical family benefit – including same-sex spouses or domestic partners who are unable to adopt or otherwise become legal parents to the children they are raising.

These provisions can make a tremendous difference for our families, especially when we live in states that don’t permit joint or second-parent adoptions.

What impact does this have on Families? Gina, Pauline, and Lily’s experience with FMLA

Gina Patterson and her wife Pauline were one of the first same-sex couples married in New York – and at the time Pauline was three months pregnant with their daughter Lily. Full of hope for their life together and excited to be welcoming a daughter into their lives, Gina and Pauline were grateful to be happy, healthy, and legally recognized as a family.

When Lily was finally born, Pauline, as Lily’s biological mother, was able to take 12 weeks of paid leave to care for Lily – much like mothers across the country do every day.

But as many new parents know, those 12 weeks go by quickly. Lily wasn’t nearly ready for daycare, and as two working Moms — Gina works for the New York state court system and Pauline is a music publisher – they were facing difficult decisions just as all new parents must.

Knowing that she hadn’t yet had the chance to spend time watching their baby grow and develop and caring for her, and since Gina, a lawyer, knew her options under the expanded FMLA coverage, she applied to take federal unpaid child care leave to care for Lily.

Unlike most opposite-sex couples, who have less trouble accessing these programs and services, Gina was asked for a note from Lily’s pediatrician saying that she should be able to take time off to care for her daughter.  The FMLA expansion that our community secured in 2010 ensured that Lily never lacked the love and nurturing of both her parents could provide.

Because of Gina’s background in the law she was prepared for the amount of advocacy she would need to do on her own behalf to access this coverage – and Lily benefited from Gina’s knowledge and experience.

This is a common experience for many LGBT parents, whether at the doctor’s office or at their child’s school, but not all families are as informed about the law or as prepared to take on this added burden of explaining to schools, doctors, and employers about the vagaries of the legal ties many of us have to our children.

Fortunately, Gina’s workplace was a welcoming one and once the HR department confirmed that Gina was eligible as a parent standing in loco parentis to take leave to care for Lily, and she was able to get the time off she needed.

While Gina, Pauline, & Lily’s story has a happy ending, and baby Lily was never denied having loving mothers when she needed them most, many families have been denied this vital protection.

Where do we go from here?

Many parents are unaware that this coverage exists and not all of these stories are as cut and dry.

Mothers and fathers all over the United States should be able to care for their families in their most vulnerable times without endangering their job. Because of FMLA – and specifically the inclusion of our families in it – many parents who are LGBT are covered, and can focus on the important task of caring for their family.

We are looking forward to building on our successes and to ensuring that our families are completely protected and included. However, there are still important changes to be made. Right now, same-sex spouses/partners are not currently covered under FMLA, in part because of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). We are continuing to work with the Obama administration and our organizational partners to make sure this law includes us completely. We support the Family and Medical Leave Inclusion Act, which would expand the Family and Medical Leave Act to permit an employee to take up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave from work to care for their same-sex spouse/partner with a serious health condition.

We also support the Healthy Families Act, a bill that would provide paid sick leave for all workers to care for their families, including LGBT parents and same-sex spouses/partners.

For more information on these issues, please visit our the Family Equality Council’s Advocacy Center.

The Family Equality Council is on Facebook and Twitter.

skitched-20130205-165923Emily Hecht-McGowan is the Director of Public Policy for Family Equality Council. She previously served as the Legal Director for Servicemembers Legal Defense Network where she assisted service members impacted by “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and related forms of discrimination. Prior to her time with SLDN, Emily was the Assistant Section Director for the American Bar Association’s Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities where she spearheaded the ABA’s civil rights, human rights and social justice policy work. Emily holds a BA in History from American University and a JD from the Columbus School of Law.  She lives in Takoma Park, MD with her wife Sharon and their daughter Sadie and their trusty beagle, Ellie.

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

GOP Congresswoman Saying She Would ‘Do Anything’ to Protect Her Grandchildren, Even ‘Shooting Them’ Sets Internet on Fire

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U.S. Congresswoman Debbie Lesko (R-AZ) in a speech denouncing a House bill on gun safety, appears to inadvertently have declared that to protect her five grandchildren, she would “do anything,” even shoot them.

“I rise in opposition to H.R. 2377,” Congresswoman Lesko says in the video. “I have five grandchildren. I would do anything, anything to protect my five grandchildren, including as a last resort shooting them if I had to, to protect the lives of my grandchildren.”

NCRM has verified the video is accurate. Congresswoman Lesko made the remarks on June 9, according to C-SPAN, while she was opposing a red flag law.

The Congresswoman presumably meant she would as a last resort shoot someone threatening her grandchildren.

One Twitter user, Ryan Shead, posted the previously ignored video to Twitter, where it has gone viral and is trending.

Lesko, who some social media users note is running for re-election unopposed, went on to say: “Democrat bills that we have heard this week want to take away my right, my right to protect my grandchildren. they want to take away the rights of law-abiding citizens to protect their own children and grandchildren. and wives and brothers and sisters,” which is false.

“This bill takes away due process from law-abiding citizens. Can you imagine if you had a disgruntled ex or somebody who hates you because of your political views and they go to a judge and say, ‘oh, this person is dangerous,’ and that judge would take away your guns?”

Lesko’s hypothetical claims are false. Red flag laws are designed to protect both gun owners and those around them.

Some social media users noted that Congresswoman Lesko reportedly “attended meetings about overturning the election,” while others are having fun with the Arizona Republican’s remarks:

Watch Congresswoman Lesko’s remarks above or at this link.

 

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RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM

Separation of Church and State Is a ‘Fabrication’ Says Far Right Activist Charlie Kirk: They Should Be ‘Mixed Together’

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Far-right religious activist, conspiracy theorist, and founder of the right-wing organization Turning Point USA Charlie Kirk has falsely declared that separation of church and state, a bedrock principle on which American society is based, is a “fabrication” not in the Constitution.

Kirk is a member of the secretive theocratic Council for National Policy., a close friend of Donald Trump, Jr., and spent years promoting President Trump – even interviewing him at one point. Turning Point USA has had repeated challenges. The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer in 2017 write a piece about TPUSA titled, “A Conservative Nonprofit That Seeks to Transform College Campuses Faces Allegations of Racial Bias and Illegal Campaign Activity.”

Former TPUSA communications director Candace Owens has praised Hitler, saying “the problem” with him was that he wanted to “globalize.”

RELATED: Watch: Charlie Kirk Calls for Texans to Be ‘Deputized’ to Protect ‘White Demographics in America’

On Wednesday Kirk declared, “There is no separation of church and state. It’s a fabrication. It’s a fiction. It’s not in the Constitution. It’s made up by secular humanists.”

That’s false.

The claim separation of church and state is not in the Constitution is a religious right belief that has been debunked by countless legal experts.

“Of course we should have church and state mixed together,” Kirk continued. “Our Founding Fathers believed in that. We can go through the detail of that. They established – literally – a church in Congress.”

That too is false.

RELATED: ‘When Do We Get to Use the Guns?’: TP USA Audience Member Asks Charlie Kirk When Can ‘We Kill’ Democrats? (Video)

“It’s a good thing Charlie Kirk doesn’t go to Wheaton because he would fail my Constitutional Law class,” writes Dr. Miranda Yaver, PhD, a Wheaton College professor.

As most public school students know, Kirk’s claims are belied by the First Amendment to the U.S., Constitution, which states:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

It’s the Establishment Clause, legal experts say, that debunks Kirk’s falsehood.

In reviewing the Supreme Court’s recent rulings, Reuters last month noted: “It was President Thomas Jefferson who famously said in an 1802 letter that the establishment clause should represent a ‘wall of separation’ between church and state. The provision prevents the government from establishing a state religion and prohibits it from favoring one faith over another.”

Jefferson is also considered the principal author of the Declaration of Independence.

Watch Charlie Kirk below or at this link.

 

 

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News

Pat Cipollone Is ‘A Greatest Hits Package of Crazy Statements’ by Donald Trump: Legal Expert

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Former White House Counsel Pat Cipollone has agreed to speak to the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on Congress on Friday.

Former Assistant Deputy Attorney General Harry Litman told CNN that Cipollone has carefully negotiated the testimony and he will likely “steer around down the middle” of the attorney/client privilege. However, former President Donald Trump is not the client of a White House counsel, the White House is. President Joe Biden has waived executive privilege for anything involving Jan. 6 or the 2020 election.

“He is a greatest hits package of crazy statements by Donald Trump,” Litman said of Cipollone. “He is the one who says to Mark Meadows, ‘You know, if you do this, you’ll have blood on your effing hands.’ He’s the one who says to Mark Meadows about [Mike] Pence, ‘You’ve got to stop it’ and Meadows says, ‘You’ve heard him. He thinks the rioters are right.’ He’s the one who has to go to Cassidy Hutchinson, a 25-year-old, and plead with her because Meadows won’t speak to him. ‘Please try to keep him from going to the Capitol.’ He’s the one who says, ‘if I go to the Capitol, it will be every effing crime imaginable.'”

READ MORE: Longtime friend of GOP’s Eric Greitens calls him a ‘broken man’ and accuses him of lying about his beliefs

“Now, they’ve negotiated it up, and probably what he wants is to say he’s not piercing attorney/client privilege. But all these statements I’ve said to you, Trump’s nowhere around. So, attorney/client has to be with the client for the purpose of getting legal advice, so he’s got tons to say without that.”

As Litman explained, Cipollone is in “everything.”

See the discussion below.

Image: Official White House Photo by Andrea Hanks  via Flickr:
President Donald J. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump talk with Supreme Court Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett, her husband Jesse Barrett, Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, his wife Virginia Thomas, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, and Deputy White House Counsel Kate Comerford Todd in the Blue Room of the White House Monday, Oct. 26, 2020, after attending Barrett’s swearing-in ceremony as Supreme Court Associate Justice.

 

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