Equally important, today’s action means that all military families, not just families of National Guard and Reserve members, will have access to 12 weeks of qualifying exigency leave. These are badly needed advances that will make a real difference to military families. We applaud lawmakers for taking these steps.
But it is important to remember that millions of workers in this country still are not covered by the FMLA because they work for employers with fewer than 50 workers and/or they do not meet the law’s tenure requirements. The nation has more work to do to ensure that all military families — and all workers — have the family and medical leave they need. We need to expand the FMLA to cover more workers who need leave for more reasons, and adopt paid leave so workers do not risk bankruptcy, poverty spells and foreclosures when they get sick or need to care for a loved one.
In addition, the bill President Obama signed today extends the federal hate crime law to cover crimes based on gender, gender identity, sexual orientation and disability. This new law will provide badly-needed tools to address and help deter gender-bias hate crimes, making federal assistance available where it is needed most when local authorities are unable or unwilling to prosecute violent crimes driven by the victim’s gender, gender identity or sexual orientation. It sends a strong message that violent hate crimes fueled by gender bias are unacceptable and will not be tolerated. This is most welcome and long overdue.”
The National Partnership for Women & Families is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group dedicated to promoting fairness in the workplace, access to quality health care and policies that help women and men meet the dual demands of work and family. More information is available at www.NationalPartnership.org.