As we celebrated Pride month, we were both lucky enough to share a float in the 49th Annual LA Pride Parade. This parade is not just some of the most fun you can have while inching down Santa Monica Boulevard, it’s an example of Los Angeles at its best. Thousands of people, from all walks of life, coming together to celebrate love and our LGBTQ community is inspiring no matter who you are. As we danced, clapped, and cheered, we saw a lot to be proud of: Friends standing with friends, moms and dads offering free hugs to LGBTQ youth, and families of all kinds, united in love and pride.
As we celebrate Pride throughout the month of June, from Valley Pride to Pride on the Port to Pride South L.A. and more, it’s remarkable to realize how far we’ve come. It was only 11 years ago that California outlawed gay marriage, and today, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender parents across our city and state are starting families and raising kids like any other new parents.
But LGBTQ folks face unique challenges when they become parents. LGBTQ parents are four times more likely to parent an adopted child, and six times more likely to raise foster children. Furthermore, LGBTQ couples are more likely than their heterosexual counterparts to adopt a child with special needs. To make matters worse, many parental leave policies in the private sector are heteronormative – they are built around old assumptions of what families look like, and offer fewer options to dads or adoptive parents.
That’s why the paid parental leave motion we introduced earlier this year is built around every family. Currently, California state law allows new parents to take up to six weeks of bonding time with a new child – but only allows 60 to 70 percent of your income if you take this leave. In Los Angeles, we know that this 30-40 percent gap is what keeps many parents from taking their leave. Our motion would close that gap, allowing new parents – whether you adopt, foster, or give birth – 100 percent of their salary for six weeks of bonding time with a new child.
Especially for LGBTQ parents, who are more likely to foster or adopt, having that bonding time is crucial to developing a healthy and happy child. In our City, where the cost of living is so expensive, we must prioritize our families and new parents, allowing them the freedom to bond and develop a connection with their children. This, in turn, helps raise a generation of strong and healthy Angelenos.
Right now, our paid parental leave proposal is undergoing independent economic analysis to understand its impacts on businesses and the local economy. But we already know that businesses with strong paid parental leave policies in place save money in the long run, and have happier and healthier employees. We also know that policies like these reduce the wage gap between men and women, and help build a stronger and more equitable labor force. This is probably why every country on Earth – except Swaziland, Papua New Guinea, and the United State of America – have paid parental leave policies already in place.
Los Angeles doesn’t wait around for the federal government to get it right – we’re ready to act now with a policy that will benefit every parent, give a strong start to every child, and support the love and wellbeing of every family. We’re ready to bring fully paid parental leave to Los Angeles, and we hope you’ll join us.
Because love is the only thing that makes a family – love that knows no gender, sexuality or background. Here in Los Angeles, we should support that love, not just with marriage equality, but with equal opportunity to have a child, start a family, and raise the next generation of Angelenos.