Bernie Sanders and Family Values

Family values. This is what the Republicans claim is their bedrock. To support, not hurt, American families. And yet, year after year, Republican policies have, at best, ignored ideas that would support and value the family unit. At times, though, they have tirelessly campaigned and made laws that seek to denigrate and impair families. And people (we!) are sick of it.

FamilyPic2.jpg

“Our country should value family, life, and hard work. This is why we insist that public policy – from taxes to education, from health care to welfare – should be created to strengthen and support, not hurt, American families.” –from www.gop.com

Family values. This is what the Republicans claim is their bedrock. To support, not hurt, American families. And yet, year after year, Republican policies have, at best, ignored ideas that would support and value the family unit. At times, though, they have tirelessly campaigned and made laws that seek to denigrate and impair families. And people (we!) are sick of it.

One major part of having a family is having the freedom to choose when to become a family and when to add to your family. This year, our country witnessed the last vestiges of anti-marriage equality laws fall to the wayside as Obergefell v. Hodges was decided in the Supreme Court. So when marriage equality was finally granted in all fifty states, all Tennesseans finally had the choice tomarry their significant others. Our state had to be forced to accept marriage equality, but it finallyhappened. This is the kind of freedom that Bernie Sanders has been fighting for for decades,speaking out about laws against homosexuality as far back as the 1970s. In addition to marriageequality, Sanders believes that families have a right to plan their future, constantly voting to fundPlanned Parenthood, and to protect the reproductive rights of women and the right to have accessto contraceptives. That is valuing FAMILY. As we saw last year with Amendment 1, Tennessee hasbecome a battleground for the so-called “pro-life” crowd. With the majority of Tennesseeans votingYes on 1, it is more important than ever to protect a woman’s right to choose on the federal level and to support organizations like Planned Parenthood.

Another part of having a family is being able to grow together and support each other in times of need. Unfortunately, American policies and laws have not valued these things. It is a fact that only two nations in the world do not have paid maternity leave: Papua New Guinea and the UnitedStates. Bernie Sanders is not being hyperbolic when he calls this “an outrage.” Neither mothers,nor fathers, should be forced back to work immediately after the birth of a child because they cannot afford to stay home. This time could be used for the mother to heal, the baby to grow, and the bond between parents and newborn to develop. Instead, we’ve made sure that only those luckyenough to have generous employers can take time off. A Department of Labor survey from 2012showed that almost one in four women were back to work within two weeks having a baby. Twoweeks! For a look closer to home, let’s consider employees of the State of Tennessee. These publicemployees have no paid maternity leave, but instead are “granted” maternity leave up to fourmonths, in which the employee must use all her sick and annual leave time, and then must beuncompensated for the remainder of the time she takes off. Employees in the private sector canfare far worse unless the employer chooses to be charitable, because Tennessee state law does notrequire an employer to grant maternity or paternity leave.

But maternity leave is not the only issue. What if another family member has an accident or isstricken with a debilitating illness? The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was supposed toassist in helping ease the burden of a new child or a sick family member, but it is not working.FMLA only applies to full-time workers who have been in their job over a year, it is only for twelveweeks, AND it is UNPAID. Who can afford to take twelve weeks unpaid anymore? Certainly notthose workers who are living paycheck to paycheck. And because of those conditions that FMLArequires, forty percent of workers don’t even qualify. This is why Sanders has cosponsored Sen.Kirsten Gillibrand’s FAMILY Act, which would guarantee twelve weeks of paid family and medicalleave. That is valuing FAMILY.

And what happens when you yourself get sick? Unfortunately for too many Americans this meansyou have to choose between going to work anyway or not getting paid. This is because the U.S. isthe ONLY developed country without paid sick leave. Tennessee has no law mandating sick leave,paid or unpaid. This is also unacceptable, which is why Bernie Sanders has cosponsored Sen. PattyMurray’s Healthy Families Act, which would guarantee seven paid sick days per year. That is alsovaluing FAMILY.

Our fair state has not acted when it comes to making policies that will protect and serve Tennesseefamilies. It is doubtful that our legislators will act unless they are forced to by the federalgovernment. It comes as no surprise to many of us that Bernie Sanders has not just been talkingabout family values, but he has worked hard to try to support and strengthen American families.And he will continue to do the same when he is elected President, by championing laws that willdefend all of us.

Be the first to comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.

Volunteer Pledge to vote Contribute

connect

get updates