Who makes a family? If you ask people throughout the U.S., the question would undoubtedly yield a wide variety of responses. Today’s families do not fit one mold – they are multi-generational, blended, LGBTQ, and span beyond legally or biologically related loved ones. Yet some policies, such as the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), have fallen short for workers and their families.
On October 8th, just three days prior to National Coming Out Day, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments regarding three cases concerning workplace discrimination against LGBTQ people. The Court’s decision will have significant ramifications for the LGBTQ community nationwide.
Advocates in Georgia passed four local nondiscrimination ordinances that protect LGBTQ individuals, Massachusetts became the first state to pass a transgender-inclusive nondiscrimination law by referendum, and six more states have passed laws prohibiting the dangerous and discredited practice of conversion therapy. We were also excited to celebrate our role in passage of several new LGBTQ-inclusive paid leave laws and victories upholding local LGBTQ rights laws.
Although families are incredibly diverse, our laws and policies often define family relationships narrowly. In 2018 A Better Balance worked with partners across the country to ensure that all family members, regardless of biological or legal ties, would be covered by these important workplace protections.
Overall, the conference was an especially important moment to act in solidarity with our partners in the labor movement following the Supreme Court’s anti-worker rights decision in Janus v. AFSCME earlier this summer.
One of the many high points at the conference was hearing about the incredible cross-movement work happening at the local level, even in the face of state interference.
Congress's “Workflex in the 21st Century” bill will undermine robust state and local paid sick leave and fair scheduling laws as well as efforts nationwide to ensure that workers can take time off to care for their loved ones.
The way our laws define family sends a signal about who our country sees and values. But these choices are more than symbols—they have powerful practical consequences for real people’s ability to care for those they love.
This report, Recognizing All Families to Expand Our Movements: Insights from the Family Justice Network, shows that change is possible when people organize around the widely-shared value of family.
Despite the narrow decision, this case serves as a keen reminder that we must be vigilant as opponents of LGBTQ equality seek to use religion to discriminate and roll back the rights of LGBTQ people and families.