Beginning in August, the Reform Movement will join the NAACP on America’s Journey for Justice—an historic 860-mile march from Selma, Alabama, to Washington, D.C. The Religious Action Center is organizing hundreds of rabbis in partnership with the NAACP for the Journey, which will mobilize activists and advance a focused advocacy agenda that protects the right of […]Read more
Fifty years ago, on July 30, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Social Security Act Amendments, which established Medicare and Medicaid and dramatically changed the landscape of health insurance in America. Before the programs went into effect, approximately half of all seniors lacked insurance and many other people, especially people with disabilities, families with […]Read more
By Megan Sims If I drive east from the house I grew up in for five minutes, I will go by an abortion clinic. If I drive west from the house I grew up in for five hours, I will be in Lubbock, a moderately sized city, home to Texas Tech University and the economic […]Read more
This past weekend, I attended the Religions for Peace USA Earth-Faith-Peace Teach In with a group of my fellow young faith leaders engaged in climate justice work. The group included participants from a wide array of religious traditions, from Franciscans to Zoroastrians, who flew in to the Teach-In from as far as Bombay and Brazil, […]Read more
Earlier this month, the Senate Appropriations Committee advanced an effort to repeal the “global gag rule,” which blocks all U.S. foreign aid to international family planning agencies that provide abortions or even mention abortion as an option for clients seeking health care. Formally known as the Mexico City Policy, the global gag rule has vast, harmful effects on women around the world who rely on non-governmental organizations (NGOs) for these services. Read more…
Last night the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) voted to ends its national ban on gay scout leaders and employees. While this vote represents an important step forward for the BSA, the resolution also allows chartered organizations to select their leaders based on their religious beliefs, therefore allowing individual troops to continue to ban gay scout leaders. In 2013, Rabbi David Saperstein, then-Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, wrote a letter calling on the BSA to end their ban on gay scouts and gay scout leaders and called for the BSA to establish a non-discrimination policy that includes sexual orientation. The BSA eventually lifted their ban on gay scouts, and last month, Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, director of the RAC, wrote a letter calling on the BSA to lift their ban on gay scout leaders and affirm that transgender boys can serve as both scouts and leaders. Although the ban on gay scout leaders has now been lifted, the BSA has remained silent on transgender inclusion.
Our Jewish values encourage us to advocate for systems that can lift people out of poverty. Jewish history also provides us with an example for helping the needy. During Talmudic times, much of tzedakah (justice) was done though tax-financed, community-run programs that helped those in needed, paralleling the entitlement security that we fight for and continue to fight for today. Through the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC), we can help provide for individuals in need through the tax system, a structure already in place. We need to ensure that this benefit does not just exist, but that the benefits will lift families out of poverty.
Last week, Congress moved closer to passing legislation preventing domestic abusers and stalkers from purchasing or possessing guns, as Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI-12) and Rep. Robert Dold (R-IL-10) introduced the Zero Tolerance for Domestic Abusers Act (H.R. 3130). The bipartisan bill would close a loophole in federal law that allows some perpetrators of domestic violence to access firearms. Crucially, it would expand the definition of “intimate partners” to the definition used in the 2012 reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act: someone who has been in a romantic or intimate relationship with the abuser. The bill also adds convicted stalkers to the list of those prohibited from purchasing and possessing guns. Read more…
Even in 2015, equal pay for equal work for women is not a reality in the United States and it’s no different for female professional soccer players. The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) only pays its players between $6,000 and $30,000 per year, while Major League Soccer (MLS) players earn a minimum salary of $50,000 per year. These low salaries act as a serious deterrent to players starting the game. Jazmine Reeves, 2014 Rookie of the Year for the NWSL’s Boston Breakers, had to leave the world of professional soccer because she was unable to get by on her $11,000 salary (that’s less than annual earnings on the U.S. minimum wage!).
Over the past year, I’ve followed a slew of state-level abortion laws, which are advancing and passing at alarming rates. In the first half of 2015, states enacted 51 new abortion restrictions, bringing the total number of restrictions passed to 282 in the past five years.
Though legislative activity is generally quiet in the states in July, with most state legislatures having completed their session for the year, it’s still an important time for state-level abortion policy. In many states, the new fiscal year begins July 1, meaning that any new abortion laws—or anti-abortion laws, in most cases—passed in the most recent legislative session were set to take effect earlier this month. Read more…
Although it is summer, as stationary stores and commercials tell us, it’s already time to start thinking about the fall and what the school year brings along with it. As we sharpen pencils and preemptively pack our backpacks, it’s hard not to take a moment to reflect on why we go through this ritual every year. Education is seen as a pathway to the American dream, and is key to lifting Americans out of poverty.
About 20% of our country’s children live in poverty, and this rate is further exacerbated when looking at children of color. 38% of African American children, 36.8% of American Indian and Native Alaskan Children, and 33% of Hispanic children are living in poverty, showing how disproportionately certain communities are impacted. For all children, education is especially crucial to create opportunities, but for many students of color, this promise is not necessarily their reality. A child of color is over twice as likely to be poor as a white child. Millions of students go to schools that are underfunded and that lack important resources. Schools where the majority of students are African American are two times as likely to have teachers who are less experienced than a school with a majority of white teachers, which therefore leads to even more inequalities in the classroom.
by Curtis Ramsey-Lucas
Twenty-five years ago, on July 26, 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA and the subsequent ADA Amendments Act, signed in 2008 by President George W. Bush, expanded opportunities for Americans with disabilities by reducing barriers and changing perceptions. As a result, our society is more open and accessible to people with disabilities today than it was just a generation ago.