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When Bad Policies Happen to Great Organizations

By Carin Mrotz

Seven years ago, when I was pregnant with my son, a colleague told me she didn’t think it was appropriate that I be allowed to use any of my accrued sick time during my upcoming leave. “Having children is a choice,” she told me, “NOT an illness.”

Our parental leave policy was vague. My organization is too small to be covered by the Family Medical Leave Act; our policy simply stated that employees were entitled to 12 weeks’ unpaid leave. It didn’t mention if or how an employee could use accrued sick or vacation time during leave, and in the 10 years since our founding, I became the first employee to have a child or even bring it up. It seemed open for interpretation, but I hated that the interpreting had to be done over what was taking place in my body. I didn’t want to argue, I wanted to disappear.

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Day of Silence

Day of Silence: Speaking Louder than Words

Today marks the 19th annual Day of Silence. All across of the nation, students will be taking some form of a vow of silence to call attention to the silencing effect of harassment and discrimination felt by LGBT students and allies in school.

Bullying and harassment has been proven to create significant adverse consequences for students, which often severely effect LGBT students. Middle and high schools students are in an extremely vulnerable time in their lives and with the social and academic pressures students already face, no student show have to deal with the added stresses that come with fear of expressing oneself. Read more…

How the Ryan Budget Harms Our Children

By Ryan Murphy

Last week, the House Budget Committee officially released its 2015 budget resolution, entitled: The Path to Prosperity.  Although the document is merely symbolic due to the bipartisan budget agreement reached last month between House and Senate, it is an important indication of what could emerge from Congress in the near future.  According to Congressman Paul Ryan, the Chairman of the House Budget Committee and key author of the document, “this budget is our vision for how we should fix this country’s fiscal problem.” Read more…

Lobbying for DC Voting Rights

Last Friday, as the URJ’s representative in the DC Voting Rights Coalition, I participated in the DC Vote Annual Lobby Day. Joining with other organizations in the coalition, we took the Hill by storm—in total, representatives from the coalition conducted dozens of meetings with House and Senate staffers on this issue.

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Hand putting stack of dollar bills into ballot box

Citizens United Revisited: McCutcheon V. FEC

Early last week, the Supreme Court announced its decision in McCutcheon v. FEC, the most recent court challenge to the campaign finance system in the United States. In the decision, the Court struck down a ban on aggregate limits on donations directly to candidates’ campaigns and political parties. An aggregate limit is (or was) a limit on the overall amount any one person could give to candidates and parties in any two year campaign cycle. While anyone was and still is limited to $2,500 for one particular candidate, they can now give that amount to as many candidates as they like, while previously it was limited to 18 different candidates. Read more…

Paul Ryan’s Budget Hurts Veterans

By Rev. Brian P. Adams

Rep. Paul Ryan wants us to think that his 2014 Fiscal Year Budget is good for veterans, as it raises funding for veterans’ concerns to $145.730 billion, which is about $9 billion higher than the request from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Yet the budget is not good for veterans overall, as it decreases the funding for many government services that are intended for all people in need, and on which many veterans depend. Such programs are often criticized by judging the recipients of aid as lazy moochers. Our veterans certainly do not fall into that category. Read more…

Double Booked: The Sacrifices are Worth It

By Natalie Bullock Brown

It was a sinking feeling I had experienced before – that moment when you realize that something you were so ready to see happen, just can’t take place.  This occurred recently when I had to turn down a job at a coveted university in the area where I live.  I had been offered the job, negotiated a reasonable salary, and was even allowed the chance to figure out a telecommuting schedule.  But logistically, I couldn’t make it work, not when I have two elementary aged kids who require, and deserve, so much of my attention and time.  The new job was not going to work, and I knew it.

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Why Talk about Disability Rights on Passover?

Moses is never mentioned in the Passover Haggadah.  At first glance, it’s a little strange that Moses’s name or involvement in the Exodus is never discussed in the Passover Haggadah.  I was taught that there is no mention of Moses for two reasons: (1) Because at our Seder, we want to remember the miracles performed by God and that God was ultimately responsible for our redemption and; (2) Because we are supposed to imagine ourselves as having gone out of Egypt and using Moses’ name places the Exodus at a certain point in history.  Whatever the reason, it’s an interesting omission to think about as we prepare for Passover.  Read more…