Gender and Sexuality Column

New York is picking up Trump’s slack on paid family leave

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New York state Gov. Andrew Cuomo's regulations will provide paid family leave for the first year after parents have, adopt or foster a child.

Working in the Big Apple — or anywhere in New York state — doesn’t mean keeping the doctor away anymore.

New York state Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a historic family leave plan Wednesday, which will ensure workers can spend time with a newborn child, care for relatives with debilitating health conditions and assist deployed or active military family members.

In a statement, Cuomo regarded the legislation as a progressive step for millions of New Yorkers.

“There is a time in everyone’s lives where being there for a loved one in need is more important than anything,” Cuomo said. “Finally, New Yorkers will no longer have to choose between losing their job and being a decent human being.”

Once again, New York is showing how states can — and must — pick up President Donald Trump’s slack.

Cuomo is not the only New York politician looking to revamp the U.S. paid family leave system. Earlier this year, Sen. Kristen Gillibrand, D-N.Y., reintroduced the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act into the Senate in the hopes of assisting families across the country struggling to care for loved ones while holding a permanent job.

The announcement also comes as a jab at the Republican Party for failing to address paid family leave in its policymaking.

In February, Trump expressed interest in working with Congress on paid family leave and child care. But talk is cheap when it comes to executing new laws. Perhaps instead of working on his golf swing at Mar-a-Lago, Trump should perfect his pen stroke and start signing new legislation that actually helps the American people.

After all, the United States is only industrialized country in the world without a paid family leave program.

The U.S.’s lack of paid family leave has especially hurt women who have had to choose between a family or a career. After having a child, 42 percent of working mothers have taken unpaid leave to spend time with their baby, according to a study by the Urban Institute. Low-income parents often have to head back to work immediately and miss out on important moments with their child. Parents shouldn’t have to choose between these two ultimatums.

Coming from the “family values” party, Republicans’ inability to create productive policy speaks volumes on how disconnected they are from the average American family. Legislation like Cuomo’s shouldn’t be exclusive to Democrats or Republicans. Every citizen should have the right to pursue the American Dream of both family and career, should they desire it.

Congress may be out of touch, but at least for New York families, the doctor is in.

Kelsey Thompson is a junior magazine journalism major. Her column appears biweekly. She can be reached at katho101@syr.edu.

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