For two years, Legal Voice has advocated for Rachelle Black, a mother of three who filed for divorce from her husband after realizing that she is a lesbian. The court in her divorce case not only gave primary custody of the children to the father—despite the fact that Rachelle had been a stay-at-home parent for her children's entire lives—but it also restricted her from discussing religion, homosexuality, or "other alternative lifestyle concepts" with her children. She couldn
Washington State’s Parenting Act helps protect domestic violence survivors and ensure a safe and healthy upbringing for their children by requiring certain restrictions on the abusive parent. When courts fail to impose those restrictions, they put survivors and their children at risk. Yet, that is exactly what happened to Maresa, a mother of two whom we represent in an appeal of her custody case. After splitting with her abusive partner, Maresa (who could not afford a lawyer)
Last year, the so-called Center for Medical Progress released secret video footage that claimed to expose Planned Parenthood's illegal handling of fetal tissue donation. The man behind that smear campaign, David Daleiden, has now shifted his focus to Washington State doctors and researchers involved in important, life-saving research. Daleiden has requested public records from the University of Washington Birth Defects Research Lab in hopes of finding what we're positive he w
We are still celebrating this month's defeat of Initiative 1515, which would have rolled back protections for transgender Washingtonians that allow them to use restrooms consistent with their gender identity. But we know that transgender people don't just face discrimination and humiliation in restrooms—they often face these same barriers when accessing health care. Over the last two years, we have made a lot of progress in fighting refusals to provide health care to transgen
In 2013, Legal Voice championed the Children of Incarcerated Parents Act, a law that helps incarcerated parents keep their ties to their children. We know that mass incarceration has resulted in far too many families—especially families of color—being permanently separated. But unfortunately, not all Washington courts are applying the law as it was intended. That means many parents continue to lose their parental rights due to their incarceration. Edelyn is one of those paren
If and when a domestic violence survivor chooses to leave, her abuser still has a need for power and control. So it is often the case that an abuser will use the legal system to continue exerting power and control over the survivor, repeatedly forcing her into court for child custody or divorce proceedings, or even for defamation if she reports the abuse. This pattern, referred to as abusive litigation, is a pervasive problem that has immense emotional and financial impacts o
Today, the United States Supreme Court vindicated our 11 years of advocacy for Washington patients by refusing to hear Stormans v. Wiesman, in which an Olympia-based pharmacy and two pharmacists alleged that the Washington State rule requiring all pharmacies to fill lawful prescriptions was unconstitutional. The Court’s refusal to hear this case affirms the Ninth Circuit decision protecting patients’ rights to timely access to prescriptions—including emergency contraception—r
Megan was raped by another student at her university and, like many other victims of campus sexual assault, she had to continue attending the same school as him. When she continued to see him on campus and grew fearful, she petitioned the court for a sexual assault protection order. But the trial court denied Megan's petition, claiming she had no reasonable fear of future dangerous acts by the man who attacked her. Legal Voice and our allies at Northwest Justice Project filed
Recent research shows that caregiver discrimination lawsuits—including discrimination based on pregnancy, parenthood, and caring for sick family members—have risen nearly 270% in the last ten years. Surprising? Not really. Upsetting? Completely.
Yet on the bright side, people are regularly winning these lawsuits, illustrating the growing recognition of family caregivers in the workforce and how employer policies can support—or harm—their economic security.
The fight to reduce gun violence is an integral part of the fight against gender-based violence. In 2014 Legal Voice and our allies successfully advocated for a Washington law that keeps abusers with domestic violence protection orders against them from purchasing or possessing firearms. That same year, we supported an initiative that successfully closed a background check loophole to help ensure abusers cannot purchase guns. Even with those protections in place, Washington S
A significant yet basic way to support sexual assault survivors is to ensure that evidence from the crime is collected and tested in a timely manner. But far too often, rape kits are never examined, and agencies lose track of them, adding another barrier to achieving justice for sexual assault survivors.
That's why we are thrilled to have helped pass House Bill 2530, making Washington the first state in the country to create a tracking system for rape kits. This system wil
Rachelle Black filed for divorce from her husband after realizing that she is a lesbian. Shockingly, the trial court in her divorce case restricted Rachelle from discussing religion, homosexuality, or other "alternative lifestyle concepts" with her children, and from having her partner present without specific approval from the children's therapist. The court also gave primary custody of the children to the father, despite the fact that Rachelle had been a stay-at-home mother
Legal Voice has long advocated for all women to have access to the economic security they and their families deserve. Nearly 15 years ago, we helped pass the Washington Family Care Act, which allows a worker who receives paid sick days to use that leave to care for her child, her spouse, or another family member. This was a great victory, except for one detail: there was no law that required employers to provide paid sick leave to workers. And there still isn't one. For years
In 2013, shortly after marriage for same-sex couples became legal in Washington State, Richland florist Baronnelle Stutzman refused to sell wedding flowers to Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed, citing her religious beliefs. The State of Washington, through the Attorney General, sued Ms. Stutzman and her business, Arlene's FLowers, for violations of the Consumer Protection Act (CPA). Mr. Ingersoll and Mr. Freed also filed a complaint for violations of Washington's Law Against Di
Earlier this year we introduced you to Melissa, a woman who has been fighting to regain custody of her child for years. We are thrilled to report an important victory for Melissa at long last—a victory that will also help many other parents in Washington. Melissa agreed in 2008 for her relatives to have custody of her two-year-old child at a time when she was struggling with substance addiction. She thought the custody agreement would be temporary as she worked to overcome he
Megan did what they tell you to do after a sexual assault. She told a friend. She sought counseling. She reported the assault to law enforcement and university administrators. And later, when she continued to see her assaulter on campus and grew fearful, she petitioned for a civil sexual assault protection order (SAPO). At trial, she provided uncontested evidence of the assault—including witness statements of people who saw her crying and shaking moments after the encounter—a
Today, Legal Voice joined bill sponsors Rep. Jessyn Farrell, Sen. Karen Keiser, and allied organizations to introduce the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA), which would guarantee that no woman has to choose between a healthy pregnancy and a paycheck. Too often, pregnant women are still forced to take unpaid leave or are fired because of a pregnancy, when slight modifications would enable them to safely continue working. The bills (HB 2307 & SB 6149) would require that empl
Legal Voice has long advocated against criminalizing women for their pregnancy outcomes. There is no place in the criminal legal system for policing and punishing pregnant people’s health conditions, such as substance use disorders, or what happens at an unattended birth. Legal Voice recently submitted an amicus brief with National Advocates for Pregnant Women, the ACLU of Washington, and the Birth Rights Bar Association on behalf of Melissa McMillen, a Washington woman who g
On behalf of Washington State organizations that serve and advocate on behalf of survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking, Legal Voice submitted a letter to Senator Patty Murray in support of the Security and Financial Empowerment (SAFE) Act. The SAFE Act would help to reduce the need for survivors to choose between economic security and their safety by creating strong workplace protections, including: Enabling survivors to take up to 30 days off from work
When a parent in crisis faces barriers in caring for her children, our legal and child welfare system should provide help and support to keep the family together if possible. But too often, the system doesn't work. That is why Legal Voice is working to win justice for Melissa. Melissa's partner died when she was pregnant. After giving birth, she suffered from grief and depression and had a relapse of drug use. She agreed to a court order that gave non-parental custody of her