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Argument Recap: Do Same-Sex Marriage Bans Discriminate on the Basis of Sex?

Posted by Elizabeth Johnston, Fellow | Posted on: April 29, 2015 at 03:24 pm

Yesterday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in four consolidated cases, which present the question of whether the Constitution requires states to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and to recognize those marriages performed in other states where they are legal. The National Women’s Law Center, along with women’s legal organizations and legal scholars, submitted a brief [PDF] arguing that state same-sex marriage bans must be subject to heightened scrutiny under the Constitution, just as are other laws that discriminate on the basis of sex. And from the arguments, it seems like at least some of the Justices read it.

During the argument, Ruth Bader Ginsburg touched on the significance of gender stereotyping in the context of the now-abandoned “meaning” of marriage.  As Justices Roberts and Kennedy pondered whether the court had a right to challenge a definition of marriage that had existed for “millennia”, [PDF] Justice Ginsburg quickly pointed out that marriage today is very different than it was under the common law, reminding them: “Marriage was a relationship of a dominant male to a subordinate female… Would that be a choice that states should still be allowed to have? To cling to marriage the way it once was?”

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Who Supports Equal Pay? The Pope

Posted by Melanie Ross Levin, Director of Outreach | Posted on: April 29, 2015 at 12:09 pm

You know what polls really well with just about everyone? Equal Pay. So it’s not a surprise that the Pope is the latest public figure to weigh in.

On Wednesday, Pope Francis voiced his support for equal pay in his weekly remarks at the Vatican. Pope Francis asked Catholics to consider “the Christian seed of radical equality between men and women.” He said Christians should “become more demanding” for that “radical equality” by “supporting the right of equal pay for equal work.”

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NWLC Testifies on the Need for Adequate Funding for Implementation of D.C.’s Protecting Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

Yesterday, Elizabeth Johnston from the National Women’s Law Center testified before the Council of the District of Columbia Committee on Bus­iness, Consumer and Regulatory Affairs in support of adequate funding to implement the Protecting Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which was enacted last year. The new law ensures that pregnant workers in D.C. may no longer be forced to choose between their health and their jobs. It does so by requiring employers to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant workers who need them to continue safely working during pregnancy, unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on the employer. However, the promise of this law can only be fully realized with sufficient funding for public education, outreach and enforcement.

While the vast majority of women can work throughout their pregnancies without needing any adjustments to their work rules or job duties, at some point during pregnancy some workers may have a need for temporary adjustments to their job duties that will allow them to continue working safely and supporting their growing families. The new law ensures that employers provide the same rights and reasonable accommodations for pregnant women as are available to workers with temporary disabilities or injuries. 

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Supreme Court to Hear Oral Argument in Marriage Equality Cases

Posted by Elizabeth Johnston, Fellow | Posted on: April 28, 2015 at 09:38 am

Today, the Supreme Court will hear oral argument in Obergefell v. Hodges and three consolidated cases. The outcome will determine whether states can refuse to allow same-sex couples to marry or refuse to recognize their marriages. Stereotypes about women and men and the roles they should play in marriage have no place in law. The Supreme Court has long recognized that the Constitution prohibits discrimination on the basis of discrimination; now, it must recognize that the Constitution prohibits sexual orientation discrimination on this basis.

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When it Comes to Campus Assault, Safety is Not Only in the Eye of the Bystander

Posted by Katie Hegarty, Online Outreach Associate | Posted on: April 24, 2015 at 02:24 pm

There’s no way around this — it’s a fact that sexual assault is happening on college campuses across the country. Lawmakers, administrators, and activists have debated any number of ways to curb this epidemic and keep students truly safe.

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National Women’s Law Center Applauds Senate Confirmation of Loretta Lynch as U.S. Attorney General

Posted by Marcia D. Greenberger, Co-President | Posted on: April 24, 2015 at 09:13 am

Yesterday, the Senate made history by confirming Loretta Lynch to be U.S. Attorney General, marking the first time an African American woman has ever held the position. By any measure, Ms. Lynch is exceptionally qualified to serve as the nation’s top law enforcement officer. She has repeatedly demonstrated that she is dedicated to public service and the rule of law, and that she has the legal expertise and sound judgment to serve the nation in this critically important role. 

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It Won’t Surprise You, But the House Wants to Allow Bosses to Fire Women for Their Personal Reproductive Health Decisions

Posted by Leila Abolfazli, Senior Counsel | Posted on: April 22, 2015 at 03:26 pm

We all know that the majority in the House of the Representatives doesn’t look too kindly on women’s constitutional right to privacy, which includes the right to use birth control and to have an abortion. Already four months into the new Congress, the majority has voted to permanently ban any federal insurance or health program from covering abortion except in very limited circumstances. It tried to pass an unconstitutional bill that would ban abortions after twenty-weeks but only failed to do so because of an internal disagreement about whether rape survivors must report their rape to get their abortions covered.

Why do these House members want to ban insurance coverage of reproductive health care and ban some abortions? Because they want to impose their own personal beliefs about birth control and abortion on the clear majority of the American population who does not hold similar views. They want to legislate women’s bodies and interfere in women’s reproductive health decisions.

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Senate Sets Procedural Vote on Loretta Lynch for Thursday

Posted by Amy K. Matsui, Senior Counsel and Director of Women and the Courts | Posted on: April 22, 2015 at 09:18 am

Late last night, Senate Majority Leader McConnell filed a cloture petition on the nomination of Loretta Lynch to be U.S. Attorney General. This vote, which will be held on Thursday, is expected to clear the way for a confirmation vote. 

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