This guest article is byÂ Emily Hecht-McGowan, Director of Public Policy for Family Equality Council.
Today, we are celebrating the 20thÂ anniversary of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and the inclusion of our families in this important law.Â Since 1993, Americans have accessed benefits under FMLA over 100 million times, and weâ€™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 takeÂ 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 inÂ 2010 to allow non-legally recognizedÂ 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 â€“ 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 donâ€™t permit joint or second-parent adoptions.
What impact does this have on Families? Gina, Pauline, and Lilyâ€™s experience with FMLA
Gina Patterson and her wife Pauline were one of the first same-sex couples married in New York â€“ 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 Lilyâ€™s biological mother, was able to take 12 weeks of paid leave to care for Lily â€“ much like mothers across the country do every day.
But as many new parents know, those 12 weeks go by quickly. Lily wasnâ€™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 â€“ they were facing difficult decisions just as all new parents must.
Knowing that she hadnâ€™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 Lilyâ€™s pediatrician saying that she should be able to take time off to care for her daughter. Â 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 Ginaâ€™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 â€“ and Lily benefited from Ginaâ€™s knowledge and experience.
This is a common experience for many LGBT parents, whether at the doctorâ€™s office or at their childâ€™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, Ginaâ€™s workplace was a welcoming one and once the HR department confirmed that Gina was eligible as a parent standingÂ in loco parentisÂ to take leave to care for Lily, and she was able to get the time off she needed.
While Gina, Pauline, & Lilyâ€™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 â€“ and specifically the inclusion of our families in it â€“ 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.Â Right now, same-sex spouses/partners are not currently covered under FMLA, in part because of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).Â 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 provideÂ paidÂ 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.
Emily 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 â€œDonâ€™t Ask, Donâ€™t Tellâ€ and related forms of discrimination. Prior to her time with SLDN, Emily was the Assistant Section Director for the American Bar Associationâ€™s Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities where she spearheaded the ABAâ€™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.Â She lives in Takoma Park, MD with her wife Sharon and their daughter Sadie and their trusty beagle, Ellie.
Enjoy this piece?
… then let us make a small request. The New Civil Rights Movement depends on readers like you to meet our ongoing expenses and continue producing quality progressive journalism. Three Silicon Valley giants consume 70 percent of all online advertising dollars, so we need your help to continue doing what we do.
NCRM is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. From unflinching coverage of religious extremism, to spotlighting efforts to roll back our rights, NCRM continues to speak truth to power. America needs independent voices like NCRM to be sure no one is forgotten.
Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure NCRM remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to NCRM, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.
Trump’s Dinner With Kanye Also Included a Former Aide Accused in Pay-for-Pardon Play, and White Supremacist Fuentes
Donald Trump‘s dinner earlier this week with antisemite Kanye West and holocaust denier and white supremacist Nick Fuentes may also have included two other right-wingers, hinted at by the former president himself.
After Axios‘ reporting confirmed that Fuentes had in fact had dinner with Trump, Trump issued a statement saying, “Our dinner meeting was intended to be Kanye and me only, but he arrived with a guest whom I had never met and knew nothing about.”
But later, on Friday afternoon via his Truth Social platform, Trump wrote a defense of the dinner with an expanded guest list.
“This past week, Kanye West called me to have dinner at Mar-a-Lago,” Trump wrote. “Shortly thereafter, he unexpectedly showed up with three of his friends, whom I knew nothing about. We had dinner on Tuesday evening with many members present on the back patio. The dinner was quick and uneventful. They then left for the airport.”
As The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman noted, Trump did not denounce his guest’s extremist beliefs.
“Three of his friends,” according to the far-right wing website Breitbart, apparently includes Fuentes, far-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos, and former Trump 2016 aide Karen Giorno.
Breitbart states, “two people who say they were at the dinner on Tuesday evening–Yiannopoulos and onetime Trump aide Karen Giorno–have publicly stated that Fuentes was in fact at the dinner with West and Trump.”
“’Nick attended the dinner and sat across from the president. I sat to the president’s right and Ye to his left,’ Giorno said in a statement to podcaster Tim Poole’s website Timcast,” Breitbart reports. “‘The president was by himself for dinner but invited Ye to meet some people on the patio.'”
Politico reports Giorno “confirmed to Politico that she was also at the dinner with Trump, West and Fuentes,” but does not mention Yiannopoulos as a dinner guest.
Referring to Kanye West by his new name, VICE News adds: “Ye, who has been been on an antisemitic spiral in recent months, announced he is going to be running for president in 2024, and Yiannopoulos is his campaign manager. He claimed that he asked the former president to run with him as his vice-president. According to Ye, the dinner involving the billionaire, the rapper, and the white nationalist devolved into screaming and derogatory epithets.”
Yiannopoulos is the former Breitbart editor who became disgraced after saying, “I think in the gay world some of the most important, enriching and incredibly life-affirming, important shaping relationships very often between younger boys and older men.” Earlier this year U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene came under fire for hiring, as an intern, Yiannopoulos, even after he appeared to support sexual “relationships” between boys as young as 13 and older men.
Karen Giorno, The New York Times reported early last year, “had access to people around the president, having run Mr. Trump’s campaign in Florida during the 2016 primary and remaining on board as a senior political adviser during the general election.”
“In July 2018, Ms. Giorno signed an agreement with Mr. Kiriakou, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times, ‘to seek a full pardon from President Donald Trump of his conviction’ for $50,000 and promised another $50,000 as a bonus if she secured a pardon,” The Times reports.
Kiriakou is John Kiriakou, who The Times identifies as “a former C.I.A. officer convicted of illegally disclosing classified information.”
On what appears to be her Instagram page, Giorno has photos of herself with numerous Republicans, including Marjorie Taylor Greene, Mike Flynn, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, Florida attorney general Ashley Moody and several other top Florida elected officials, U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster, and Sarah Palin, among others.
Trump Claims He ‘Knew Nothing About’ the White Supremacist Antisemite Who He and Kanye West Dined With at Mar-a-Lago
Donald Trump and Kanye West had dinner at Mar-a-Lago Tuesday night and the disgraced artist who goes by “Ye” brought a guest, the white supremacist, antisemite and “America First” and “Big Lie” purveyor Nick Fuentes. Now the former president is claiming Fuentes was a guest of West, and he knows “nothing” about him.
“Trump’s direct engagement with a man labeled a ‘white supremacist’ by the Justice Department, one week after declaring his 2024 candidacy, is likely to draw renewed outrage over the former president’s embrace of extremists,” Axios’ Jonathan Swan and Zachary Basu report.
Axios notes that in a video West posted to his recently restored Twitter account, he says, “Trump was ‘really impressed’ with Fuentes because ‘unlike so many of the lawyers and so many people that he was left with on his 2020 campaign, he’s actually a loyalist.'”
“Ye, who has lost major sponsorships over his anti-Semitism and recent far-right associations, has said he wants to run for president in 2024,” Axios adds. “The rapper claims Trump started ‘screaming’ at him at the dinner and told him he would lose — ‘most perturbed’ by Ye asking Trump to be his running mate.”
Swan says Trump issued a statement in response to his reporting, claiming he does not know Fuentes.
“Kanye West very much wanted to visit Mar-a-Lago,” Trump’s statement says, an apparent attempt to minimize his dining with two racists and antisemites. “Our dinner meeting was intended to be Kanye and me only, but he arrived with a guest whom I had never met and knew nothing about.”
The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman observes that Trump’s “statement does nothing to denounce that background, including Holocaust denialism, or even acknowledge it.”
Trump first claiming West just wanted to see Mar-a-Lago, but immediately after calling it a “meeting” is notable, given that West has since suggested he is running for president.
Axios importantly adds that “Fuentes first gained notoriety after attending the white supremacist ‘Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville in 2017,” and, “Trump was heavily criticized at the time for his response to the racist violence.”
Journalist Jeff Sharlet is the executive producer of Netflix’s “The Family,” based on his books that exposed the secretive Christian right organization of the same name. The Family, also called The Fellowship, hosts the annual National Prayer Breakfast. Its members were involved in Uganda’s “Kill the Gays” bill.
Sharlet warns this is an “inflection point.”
“Trump dinner with Ye, at this point, is a major story,” Sharlet tweeted. “But with Nick Fuentes? That’s an inflection point even for a former president already committed to fascism.”
Journalist and activist Elad Nehorai tweeted: “Never let a single right winger or Republican claim they care about Jews after this. Fuentes openly praises Hitler. He is a Holocaust denier. He is one of the US’s most dangerous white nationalists. Trump hosted him & not one Republican had said a word.”
Attorney and former Republican Ron Filipkowski, who tracks and reports on right wing extremism, says Trump’s statement “reminds me of the time when Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio was in the WH in Dec 2020 and said he was just there to check out the Christmas decorations.”
Tarrio told ABC News last year he “got invited to the White House Christmas decorations tour through ‘Latinos For Trump.'”
Top national security attorney Brad Moss mocked Trump’s claim about the Mar-a-Lago dinner.
“Trump legal team: MAL is a totally secure place where we can be trusted to store classified records,” he tweeted. “Trump PR team: Security at MAL is so lax that a raving white supremacist can just crash Trump’s dinner party with Ye.”
Indeed, The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman commented, “It’s not the central issue with meeting with Fuentes, but the fact that people can show up unvetted and meet with Trump at his club is part of what alarmed the DOJ about his retention of government records, including classified material, when he left office.”
She also posted a screenshot from her book, relevant to Trump’s embrace of the two racists and antisemites. She quotes him saying, “A lot of these people vote,” in relation to “Trump’s refusal to condemn David Duke’s support forcefully in early 2016.”
Related: from CONFIDENCE MAN, Trump’s refusal to condemn David Duke’s support forcefully in early 2016. “A lot of these people vote.” pic.twitter.com/BcsX7pXKbb
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) November 25, 2022
The AntiDefamation League (ADL) in a 2021 report wrote, “Nicholas Fuentes is a white supremacist leader and organizer and podcaster who seeks to forge a white nationalist alternative to the mainstream GOP.”
Some of Fuentes’ antisemitism has been documented by ADL.
“Fuentes has made a number of racist and antisemitic comments under the guise of being provocative and ironic,” ADLs report states. “For example, he has referred to Daily Wire columnist Matt Walsh as ‘shabbos goy race traitor’ because he works for Jews (Ben Shapiro, a Jewish conservative, runs the Daily Wire). On a livestream episode, Fuentes ‘jokingly’ denied the Holocaust and compared Jews burnt in concentration camps to cookies in an oven. On May 24, 2021, Fuentes participated in a debate on right-wing conspiracist Alex Jones’ InfoWars with Robert Barnes, a man described as a ‘constitutional lawyer’ who has legally defended both Jones and Kenosha shooter Kyle Rittenhouse. During the debate, Fuentes made numerous antisemitic remarks, including, ‘I don’t see Jews as Europeans and I don’t see them as part of Western civilization, particularly because they are not Christians.'”
Fuentes is strongly pro-Trump, as West alluded to.
“Fuentes promoted election fraud narratives and encouraged his adherents to participate in nationwide ‘Stop the Steal’ protests,” according to ADL.
This article has been updated to include Jeff Sharlet’s remarks.
Watch: Chasten Buttigieg Says Tucker Carlson Is Focusing on ‘Hate’ After Host’s Latest Anti-Gay Attack on His Husband
For years Tucker Carlson has been targeting U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg. The Fox News host and “propagandist” has attacked Buttigieg, the youngest and arguably one of the most popular to hold that Cabinet position, for the high price of gas, inflation, complaints against airlines – including ticket prices and flight delays, speaking out in support of women’s reproductive rights, and for allegedly working “feverishly on the equity agenda.”
All that was in just one of Tucker Carlson’s opening monologues, back in June, during which he also pushed Russian propaganda against the United States for supporting Ukraine in Vladimir’ Putin’s illegal war against the sovereign nation.
The 53-year old TV host has been accused by some of being a purveyor of white supremacist rhetoric – or even a white supremacist. “Tucker Carlson’s monologues” were mentioned in the first sentence of a New York magazine piece titled, “White Christian Nationalism ‘Is a Fundamental Threat to Democracy.’”
So it’s no surprise that Carlson’s attacks against Buttigieg are more often than not homophobic, linked to the fact that Buttigieg is gay, out, married, and a father.
Carlson has infamously attacked Secretary Buttigieg for taking family leave after he and his husband, Chasten Buttigieg, adopted twins. He said Sec. Buttigieg was trying “to figure out how to breastfeed,” and snarked, “No word on how that went.” The twins were born prematurely, and had medical issues, which the Buttigieges later revealed was RSV, and “the entire family — including Pete and Chasten — soon got it,” as The Advocate reported.
In response to Carlson’s bullying, Buttigieg praised the Biden administration for being “pro-family” by having a family leave policy for new parents. Carlson responded with sarcastic trolling, saying on Fox News, “It turns out that Buttigieg is not a dwarfish fraud whose utter mediocrity indicts the class that produced him. No, not at all.”
One year ago this month Carlson went after Sec. Buttigieg for his accurate claim that racism played a part in the design of some of the nation’s highways, including in New York.
“I’m still surprised that some people were surprised when I pointed to the fact that if a highway was built for the purpose of dividing a white and a Black neighborhood, or if an underpass was constructed such that a bus carrying mostly Black and Puerto Rican kids to a beach—or it would have been—in New York, was designed too low for it to pass by, that that obviously reflects racism that went into those design choices,” Buttigieg told The Grio’s April Ryan, The Daily Beast reported. “I don’t think we have anything to lose by confronting that simple reality.”
Buttigieg is one of “the dumbest people in the world,” Carlson declared in response to the fact that there is racism built into our roads.
“Carlson said it’s ‘obvious’ that ‘roads can’t be racist’ but that the transportation secretary ‘didn’t know it,'” The Daily Beast added, pointing to a Washington Post explainer about “historical examples of institutionalized racism,” including roads.
In January, Carlson slammed Butigieg in yet another homophobic attack, calling him an “unqualified ‘kid’ who ‘breastfeeds,’ and has no business running the agency,” Mediaite reported.
“Joe Biden hired a kid,” Carlson claimed of Buttigieg, who was 38 when Biden became President, “who had never had a real job outside McKinsey and no grounding of any kind in physical reality,” a provable lie.
The Advocate noted, “in addition to working for McKinsey, a consulting firm, Buttigieg served two terms as mayor of South Bend, Ind., and spent seven years in the U.S. Navy Reserves. He was deployed to Afghanistan in 2014. He is a graduate of Harvard University and was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University in England.”
Carlson, who never served his country and reportedly failed his attempt to join the CIA, apparently has since learned that Buttigieg spent seven years serving in the U.S. Military, from 2009-2017. The Secretary was a Lieutenant in the United States Navy Reserve, deployed to Afghanistan, served in a counterintelligence unit, and received ten military awards.
On Wednesday, the night before Thanksgiving, Carlson did serve up a dishonest, homophobic attack against Buttigieg, this time by going after his military service.
In a mocking, sarcastic slam Carlson accused Buttigieg of “hiding” his homosexuality while serving in America’s Armed Forces – something everyone knows was literally the law, under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
DADT was federal law, in effect from 1993 – 2011, in effect when Buttigieg enlisted. Buttigieg did come out during his military service, in 2015.
“After being deployed with the Navy to Afghanistan in 2014, he said he realized he could die having never been in love, and he resolved to change that. He finally came out in 2015, when he was 33,” The New York Times reported in 2019, during his presidential run.
Meanwhile, Carlson seemed to be unaware that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was the law of the land, claiming instead no one knows why Buttigieg refused to “admit” at the time he was gay – words that literally could have ended his military service.
“Pete Buttigieg, of course couldn’t pass pass up a moment like this,” referring to the mass shooting hate crime in Colorado Sprigs, Colorado last weekend during which five people were massacred at an LGBTQ nightclub during a drag event, something Carlson has repeatedly been railing against.
“It’s not like Pete Buttigieg just wants to talk about how things are going over at the Transportation Department, which he supposedly runs – short answer, not well,” Carlson claimed, serving up no proof of that.
“No, Pete Buttigieg wants to talk about identity. He always wants to talk about identity,” another provably false claim. “And the funny, ironic thing is that until just a few years ago, Buttigieg wouldn’t even admit that he was gay.”
“He hid that and then lied about it for reasons he has never been asked to explain – why not?” Carlson disingenuously asked.
“But whatever. Now he is happy to use his sexual orientation as a cudgel to bash you repeatedly in the face into submission,” Carlson continued, in what some might call an act of stochastic terrorism.
Carlson, who claimed he was a member of the “Dan White Society” in his college yearbook, this week on social media has been accused of engaging in stochastic terrorism after doubling down on his anti-LGBTQ attacks, even after the Colorado Springs Club Q mass shooting.
The Fox News host’s rant was not complete. On-screen Carlson had a tweet from Buttigieg, and read it in a mocking voice.
“Quote, here’s the latest. If you’re a politician or media figure who sets up the LGBTQ community to be hated and feared, not because any of us who ever harmed you but because you find it useful, then don’t you dare act surprised when this kind of violence follows. Don’t you dare act surprised,'” Carlson said mocking the Secretary.
“Don’t you dare,” he added. “Alright, fair enough. We won’t dare. But honestly, we were a little surprised to learn that the anti-trans shooter is himself trans,” Carlson claimed, falsely identifying the shooting suspect whose attorneys say they say they are non-binary.
“Were you surprised by that Pete Buttigieg? Now that you’re admitting you’re gay after lying about it? Since we’re talking about identity, what do you have to say about that? Well, nothing. Weirdly Pete Buttigieg hasn’t said anything, nor is he apologized for attacking other people on false pretenses.”
Tucker Carlson rips into Pete Buttigieg, saying he “hid” and “lied” about being gay for unknown reasons. Pete Buttigieg was enrolled in the military during the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. pic.twitter.com/Zy9yFndDgW
— Mike Sington (@MikeSington) November 24, 2022
That too is a false claim, one the right often employs.
LGBTQ people can be anti-LGBTQ, homophobic, biphobic, or transphobic, and people can be racist against their own race.
Wednesday evening, in response to Carlson’s remarks, Chasten Buttigieg posted a photo of his husband in military uniform.
— Chasten Buttigieg (@Chasten) November 24, 2022
Friday morning on CNN, Chasten Buttigieg responded to Tucker Carlson’s latest attack against his husband.
“My husband served under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell which meant that he would have been discharged from the American military had he come out of the closet,” he tells CNN host Don Lemon. “I know on the clip, Tucker Carlson goes on to talk about how it seems that my husband only wants to talk about identity rather than his job. And I would just love for him to follow Secretary Pete on Twitter. You can follow along with all of the things that are happening at the Department. But remember, this kind of rhetoric is easy. It’s so easy to attack people and to go on your talk show and fire people up about something that’s not actually happening.”
“I love my husband deeply, Chasten Buttigieg continued. “I know he’s a committed public servant. And he has everyone’s best interests at heart. I just think these people again with these megaphones, they have they have a big platform and rather than focusing on real issues, people’s lives, making them better, they’ve decided to focus on hate.”
Watch the videos above and below, or at this link.
“With these mega phones, they have a big platform. Rather than focusing on real issues, people’s lives, making them better, they’ve decided to focus on hate.”@Chasten responds to recent attacks on his husband in conservative media pic.twitter.com/Mb9IMF2LIj
— CNN This Morning (@CNNThisMorning) November 25, 2022
- 'A SENSE OF THE TROUBLE HE IS IN'3 days ago
Half of Twitter’s Top Advertisers Flee as Elon Musk Welcomes Trump Back
- 'BAD FAITH ACTOR'2 days ago
Watch: Conservative Think Tank Pays $1.3 Million to Air Anti-LGBTQ Ad During Thanksgiving Weekend
- 'CLOWN SHOW'3 days ago
“Anti-Woke” Right-Wing Bank GloriFi Shuts Down Barely One Month After Launch
- News19 hours ago
Trump Gets Famous Founding Father’s Quote Wrong in Angry Thanksgiving Pity Party: ‘Give Me Freedom or Give Me Death’
- 'ASSAULT ON DEMOCRACY'3 days ago
Brazil’s Far-Right Former Pres Copies Trump and Contests Recent Election Loss
- News2 days ago
Anti-LGBTQ Activist Who Warns of ‘Groomers’ Forced Out of Teaching for Inappropriate Relationships With Students: Report
- 'ARE YOU KIDDING?!'3 days ago
San Francisco Police Want To Use Robots to Kill Criminal Suspects
- News2 days ago
‘Extraordinary Turn in Investigation’: Pence May Be ‘Receptive’ to Talking With DOJ Says NY Times Reporter