Next Tuesday, April 28, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on four combined cases relating to marriage equality. The joint suit is known by one of the cases, Obergefell v. Hodges, and could establish the freedom to marry in all fifty states. As oral arguments approach, the RAC has joined other faith organizations in co-sponsoring a National Weekend of Prayer for marriage equality on April 24-26, 2015.
On April 26-28, hundreds of Reform Jews will gather in Washington, D.C. for the RAC’s Consultation on Conscience, the Reform Movement’s flagship social justice event. On Monday, April 27 at 2:00 PM, Evan Wolfson, Founder and President of Freedom to Marry, will join Rabbi Denise Eger, President of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, Jen Kaufman, Chair of the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism, and Rabbi Judith Schindler, Senior Rabbi at Temple Beth El, for a discussion on LGBT equality. A live stream will be available on the RAC homepage if you are unable to join us in person at the Consultation. In the meantime, you can brush up on some of the latest developments in the fight for LGBT equality!
Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was signed into law 22 years ago to allow workers to take a maximum 12 weeks unpaid time off of work to care for a new child (including adopted and foster children); care for a sick child; act as a caregiver for a parent; address personal serious health concerns; and care for wounded service members. After the decision in United States v. Windsor, in which the part of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) defining marriage as between a man and a woman for federal purposes was struck down, the Department of Labor announced that FMLA would apply to eligible employees in same-sex marriages if the employee resided in a state that recognized their marriage. Rachel Laser, Deputy Director of the Religious Action Center, submitted comments last August to the Department of Labor in support of this change when it was proposed.
On March 27, legally married same-sex couples will be able to take unpaid time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Signed into law 22 years ago, FMLA allows eligible workers to take a maximum 12 weeks unpaid time off of work to care for a new child (including adopted and foster children), care for a sick child, act as a caregiver for a parent, address personal serious health concerns and care for wounded service members. The rule, published last month, revises the definition of spouse to include legally married same-sex couples, regardless of whether the state they live in recognizes their marriage or not. This is an important step forward for LGBT individuals.
Yesterday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case, King v. Burwell, a lawsuit that claims that the Affordable Care Act only allows people to receive premium tax credits in states that run their own health insurance marketplace, as opposed to the states who use the federally-facilitated Marketplace. These premium tax credits make health care affordable to low and middle income individuals who gain insurance through the marketplace.
With five days until open enrollement for the health insurance marketplaces ends, an estimated 10 million people are expected to have enrolled through federal and state marketplaces by February 15. This large number and the decreasing number of uninsured Americans—the uninsured rate has decreased by 4.2 percentage since the Affordable Care Act‘s (ACA’s) requirement that all Americans have health insurance went into effect one year ago—both point to the success of the ACA in reducing the uninsured rate. However, recent events could threaten millions of peoples’ health insurance coverage.
Next Wednesday, January 21 marks the fifth anniversary of Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission, the infamous case in which the Supreme Court struck down a longstanding ban on corporation and union spending in elections. Since the decision five years ago, money has flowed into elections through political action committees (PACs), which contribute money to candidates’ election campaigns. It is estimated that outside groups spent over $1 billion in the 2012 presidential election. More money was spent by outside organizations, often keeping their donor lists secret, than by either candidates’ own campaign. While the total amount of money spent by candidates increased only marginally from 2008, the amount from outside groups quadrupled – thanks largely to the doors opened by Citizens United. Read more…
Yesterday, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Young v. United Parcel Service, a pregnancy discrimination case that has significant implications for working women across the country. Supporters of the plaintiff, Peggy Young, gathered before the Court to protest pregnancy discrimination, sharing stories to highlight that the discrimination Young faced is not unique but rather a widespread injustice for working women. Speakers shared stories of cashiers fired for requesting a stool to alleviate the fatigue of standing and of women who stocked shelves fired for carrying a water bottle to stay hydrated on duty. They shared stories of their own and stories from their mothers’ generation and before, wondering aloud “why we’re here,” 36 years after the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978—the law in question in Young—was created to require reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers. Read more…