Ohio Paid Sick Leave Initiative Ignores LGBT Families

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I never thought I’d see the day when I would question an effort to secure paid sick leave. But I recently learned that the campaign for paid sick leave in Ohio has proposed an initiative that will allow workers to care for sick loved ones only if they are a parent, spouse, or child. Ohio–like most states–bans same-sex marriage, so this leaves out all same-sex couples, let alone other unmarried couples and those who care for loved ones outside the narrow categories in this initiative.

Before you think I have some utopian vision of what a paid sick leave policy can be, consider this: Federal government employees can use their sick leave to care for those with whom they have a “close association” that is the “equivalent of a family relationship.” And Senator Kennedy’s proposed Healthy Families Act contains identical language. A bill pending in Illinois doesn’t go that far, but it covers anyone who has been a member of the employee’s household for at least six months. There are lots of ways to write a law that covers family members, including but not limited to same-sex partners, without running afoul of Ohio’s constitutional amendment.

For more of my analysis of this, please read my blog entry today.

–Nancy Polikoff

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