The Duchess of Sussex, former “Suits” actress Meghan Markle, has written an open letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) pushing both to support legislation expanding paid parental leave.
“I’m not an elected official, and I’m not a politician. I am, like many, an engaged citizen and a parent,” she wrote in a letter that was released Wednesday by an organization known as Paid Leave for All.
The mother of two, who married Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, in 2018, said in the letter she was writing “as a mom” in advocating for paid leave as majority Democrats continue to debate and consider portions of a massive $3.5 trillion spending package for what they have dubbed “human infrastructure.”
After her daughter Lilibet was born in June, the duchess said, she and Harry were “overjoyed” but also “overwhelmed.”
“Like fewer parents, we weren’t confronted with the harsh reality of either spending those first few critical months with our baby or going back to work,” she wrote. “We knew we could take her home, and in that vital (and sacred) stage, devote any and everything to our kids and to our family.
“We knew that by doing so we wouldn’t have to make impossible choices about childcare, work, and medical care that so many have to make every single day,” Meghan continued.
“No family should be faced with these decisions. No family should have to choose between earning a living and having the freedom to take care of their child (or a loved one, or themselves, as we would see with a comprehensive paid leave plan),” Meghan wrote.
She and Harry left their duties last year as full-time working members of Britain’s royal family and instead moved to her home state of California.
“I understand that with everything going on these days, people might find it easy to be apathetic about what’s happening in Washington, D.C.,” she told the two congressional leaders in what is being viewed as her most powerful political statement since she and Harry wed, though royal family members are expected to remain neutral, politically.
“I’m writing to you on behalf of millions of American families who are using their voices to say that comprehensive paid leave should not be a place to compromise or negotiate,” the duchess noted further.
She went on to argue that paid parental leave ought to be “a national right, rather than a patchwork option limited to those whose employers have policies in place, or those who live in one of the few states where a leave program exists.”
Her public appeal for the new benefit comes on the heels of a group of 15 Democratic senators who have also urged President Joe Biden, Schumer, and Pelosi to build in more comprehensive family and medical paid leave programs into the $3.5 trillion package which is in limbo at present and likely to be pared down significantly to have any chance of passing the 50-50 Senate without Republican support.
Earlier in the week, Biden told progressive Democrats at the White House that the measure won’t provide the initially sought 12 weeks of paid leave but four, instead.
“I know how politically charged things can — and have — become,” the 40-year-old former actress wrote. “But this isn’t about Right or Left, it’s about right or wrong.”
“This is about putting families above politics,” she said. “And for a refreshing change, it’s something we all seem to agree on. At a point when everything feels so divisive, let this be a shared goal that unites us.”
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