When I think about where I see my home, where I see myself raising a child and keeping them safe — I see a state that recognizes both mine and my wife’s legal rights as parents and values our ability to take time to care for our family during a time of need. I see a state that goes beyond welcoming immigrant families and takes action to eliminate the barriers they face. I see a state that rejects unfair systems when it is clear that the current system silences the voice of people of color in cities and towns across our state.
As a queer person of color, there are many issues that affect me, my family and my community. I know that our fight for self-determination as people isn’t limited to one issue. Last year, when I joined thousands of other Oregonians in defeating Measures 105 & 106 — both of which unfairly targeted people of color, there was a clear consensus in the community: our decisions on when and whether to become a parent are linked to the safety and health of our community.
Forward Together, a national women of color-led organization, along with local grassroots organizations knocked on over 16,000 doors of families of color and the agreement was resounding: we are a state that welcomes immigrants and all Oregonians should be able to decide when and whether to become a parent.
We know that systemic racism deprives women of color of access to quality healthcare, economic opportunity and safety. That’s why when Oregon passes a comprehensive paid family and medical leave program, it should be accessible to all forms of families: multi-generational, LGBTQ, single-parent, multi-national and chosen families.
This year, Forward Together will engage the community to move our priorities for all Oregon families. We will work to pass a paid family and medical leave insurance program that recognizes all family types. We will build consensus and support for immigrant justice so together we can eliminate barriers for undocumented folks. Lastly, we will also support efforts for a more equitable and representative election system.
I invite all Oregonians to stand with me as we urge the Oregon Legislature to prioritize families this legislative session.
Michele is the Oregon Advocacy Manager for Forward Together.