There are only five state-based legal non-profits in the country that focus on advancing women’s and LGBT rights, and the Women’s Law Project is one of them. The other four organizations are Legal Voice (Washington state), Gender Justice (Upper Midwest), Southwest Women’s Law Center (New Mexico), and California Women’s Law Center.
The fight for our rights has always been on the ground and in the states, though the coordinated campaign of state-level legislative attacks on abortion access that has dominated the landscape, and headlines, in the last few years has made that reality abundantly clear.
Realizing the necessity of building more power among advocates on the front lines, the Women’s Law Project met with the other four organizations to form a collaborative project we call The Alliance: State Advocates for Women’s Rights and Gender Justice.
We formed the Alliance to strengthen our collective capacity to advance women’s rights, reproductive justice and LGBTQ equality, and to produce clear wins on critical issues at the state level. We currently work in 11 of the 50 states, using the law to promote justice for women, LGBTQ persons and families.
We have already made progress.
In March, the Alliance filed an amicus curiae brief in the Supreme Court of the United States in support of marriage equality.
In June, The Alliance released our first collaborative publication, Of the States, By the States, For the States: Strategies for Gender Equality. This report summarizes our respective victories, and serves as a blueprint for organizations in other states to chart a path toward similar successes.
Now, we are proud to share the latest report from the Alliance, which was a year and a half in the making: The Road Ahead: Gender Equality After Hobby Lobby.
The Alliance began working on this report in the wake of the ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby. Last June, we had to revise our work-in-progress when the U.S. Supreme Court released its decision in Obergefell v. United States, the marriage-equality case.
From the report:
While we are delighted that marriage equality is now the law of the land, and we celebrate that victory, we also know that the decision will lead – indeed, has already led – to an acceleration of proposed laws, policies, and lawsuits to expand the rights of individuals and institutions who object to serving, hiring or including same-sex couples – especially in the states. This, in turn, is certain to accelerate religious refusals in other areas as well, with reproductive health and rights at particular risk.
The current explosion of refusals however, is only part of the picture. Both Hobby Lobby and Obergefell have significant implications for progress – or lack thereof – toward gender equality itself. Both rulings reflect and in turn will shape current and future attitudes about gender, not only in law, but in policy and culture as well. And both rulings have implications that will play out in courts and legislatures, primarily at the state level.
This Report focuses on Hobby Lobby and begins to explore Obergefell in this broader context. We hope that in doing so the Report will serve as a resource for our state and national colleagues who recognize that the struggle for women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, full gender equality – indeed, social justice itself – can be won only through creative and concerted advocacy. The Alliance commits to this and welcomes our allies in the fight.
Founded in 1974, the Women’s Law Project is the only public interest law center devoted to women’s rights in Pennsylvania. WLP is a founding member of the PA Campaign for Women’s Health, a growing collaboration of organizations and individuals calling for an end to ideological politics trumping common-sense policy solutions in Pennsylvania.