Meghan joins push for paid family leave in rare political statement
Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, is making the push for paid leave in an open letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).
“I’m not an elected official, and I’m not a politician. I am, like many, an engaged citizen and a parent,” Meghan wrote in a letter released Wednesday by the group Paid Leave for All.
The former “Suits” actor born Meghan Markle, mother of two with husband Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, told the lawmakers that she was writing “as a mom” to advocate for paid leave as congressional Democrats debate what will be a part of their multi-trillion human infrastructure spending bill.
After welcoming her daughter, Lilibet, in June, Meghan said, she and Harry were “overjoyed” yet “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. 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,” she wrote.
“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.”
“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),” wrote Meghan, who last year along with Harry stepped away from her duties as a full-time working member of the royal family and moved back 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.,” Meghan told Pelosi and Schumer in her strongest public political statement since tying the knot with Harry in 2018.
Members of the British royal family are expected to maintain political neutrality.
“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 said.
Paid leave, Meghan said, should 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.”
Meghan’s public pitch for paid leave came as a group of 15 Senate Democrats urged President Biden, Schumer and Pelosi to include a more robust family and medical paid leave program in the budget reconciliation bill. Earlier this week, Biden told liberal Democrats during a White House meeting that the legislation would provide four weeks of paid leave benefits, rather than the 12 weeks initially discussed.
“I know how politically charged things can — and have — become,” Meghan, 40, wrote. “But this isn’t about Right or Left, it’s about right or wrong.”
“This is about putting families above politics,” Meghan 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.”