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Legal Voice 

Description

Legal Voice believes that women deserve strong, just laws that protect their rights. People lead complicated lives; if you have a domestic violence issue, you may also have employment and housing challenges. We tackle problems that plague women and families by assessing the big picture: the systems and institutions that exacerbate the issues women and families face every day. Each case, issue, or policy change moves us one step closer to achieving a safe, fair, and equitable world for all women.

Mission Statement
Legal Voice envisions a world where every woman and girl enjoys economic, social, and legal equality. We pursue that vision by seeking justice for women and girls in the Northwest, through ground-breaking lawsuits, advocacy, and educational tools to help people understand their rights and the legal system.
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Legal Voice
907 Pine St Ste 500 
Seattle 
WA
98101-1818 
(206) 682-9552 

Lisa M. Stone 
Executive Director 

Programs

Legal Voice Programs

Every day we focus on activities contributing directly to lasting, systemic changes in society, from lawsuits, statutes, agency rules, and self help materials, to public education.

Seeking justice through the courts
Legal Voice brings cases to change the law in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington. We represent Rachelle Black, a stay-at-home mother for 15 years who filed for divorce after coming out as a lesbian to her husband. The Pierce County court was highly critical of Rachelle’s “lifestyle choice:” it granted the father primary custody of the children and prohibited her from discussing “homosexuality, religion or other alternative lifestyle concepts” with her children. We cannot and will not allow these rulings to stand.

Making the northwest more just
Legal Voice drafts, analyzes and advocates for bills affecting women and their families in Washington, and provides legal assistance and model legislation to advocates in the region. In 2015 we are working to pass a bill ensuring prompt testing of rape kits, and bills creating more effective remedies for the problem of non-consensual pornography, or "revenge porn.”

Empowering communities
Legal Voice educates communities about pressing legal issues through community forums, collaborations, and self help materials. We have worked tirelessly to educate judges how to identify when survivors of abuse are being re-victimized in the courts and what judges can do about this continued abuse.

Recent Successes and Current Challenges

Protecting Survivors of Violence
We represented a pregnant woman who received notice of a court order that completely violated her rights as a woman, as an expectant mother, and as a domestic violence survivor, while granting rights to a man who had not been legally established as her expected child's parent.

The court had ordered her to contact her former partner when she went into labor and tell him where she planned to give birth; allow him and his parents to be at the hospital when she gave birth; allow him and his parents to visit with her child in the hospital.

With her due date rapidly approaching, we had to act quickly. We drafted a response to the court's order and appeared in Spokane County Superior Court on her behalf. The Court agreed with our arguments and struck down the requirements.

Current Needs
Legal Voice is working for economic justice for all Washingtonians by drafting, advocating for and supporting these bills:

* Equal Pay Opportunity Act would reduce the wage gap by closing loopholes in laws and protecting employees who ask about or disclose wage information.

* Reproductive Health Act improves access to reproductive care by guaranteeing insurance coverage of all FDA-approved contraceptive methods and requiring all health care plans that cover maternity care to also cover abortion care.

* Paid Sick and Safe days establishes statewide minimum standards for paid sick and safe leave, ensuring workers are able to take paid time off work when they are ill, need to care for a sick family member, or need to cope with the effects of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

Evaluation


Legal Voice has played a key role in virtually all the advances to the rights of women, families and sexual minorities for over 30 years in our region.

Proven Success
Legal Voice has succeeded in advancing the legal rights of women and sexual minorities throughout the Northwest. Their philosophy recognizes that law is one of the most powerful tools in a democratic society, which is why they strive to educate the public about the law, advocate for fair interpretation and enforcement, and pursue changes that further the rights of women and sexual minorities.

As healthcare industry mergers and alliances proliferate, access to healthcare for women, LGBTQ persons, and those facing end-of-life decisions is ever more restrictive. In response to the alliance between Seattle’s Swedish Hospital and the Providence healthcare system, Legal Voice is co-leading a community coalition concerned about possible erosion of access to services such as sterilization, abortion, and end-of-life care. They are also leading an effort to develop policy initiatives to strengthen patient rights to be informed of their healthcare options in WA.

Partnering with Economic Opportunity Institute and other allies, they passed a Paid Sick and Safe Days policy in Seattle in 2011, only the 4th in the country, requiring that employees in Seattle can take paid time off when they or family members are ill, or to take steps to become safe, such as going to a domestic violence shelter and seeking court protection. We are now working to enforce the new Seattle policy, plan advocacy for a statewide Paid Sick and Safe Days law, and to ensure WA’s Family Leave Insurance program remains on the books until the economy recovers and a funding source is established.

Accessibility and Cultural Competency
Legal Voice provides legal information and referrals on patient rights and healthcare access. In 2012 they will disseminate “Know Your Reproductive Rights” materials in WA, and a Senior Legal Wellness Handbook addressing healthcare access issues confronting WA seniors. We are also seeking funding to provide Seattle community workshops on these critical issues for seniors and their caregivers in 2013.

The trial in their lawsuit defending the patient-centered Board of Pharmacy rule requiring all pharmacies to dispense all lawful medications occurred in November and December 2011. The judge ruled in February 2012 that the regulations are unconstitutional. Legal Voice (and the State, which is also defending the regulations strongly disagree), have appealed the decision. That court previously overturned the judge in this case, and they believe they will prevail on appeal. They know from polling that 65% of Washingtonians believe patients’ needs should trump health care providers’ personal beliefs. They believe this case will ultimately be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, so are devoting resources to ensure that patients’ rights are protected.

Financial Health
Structurally, their programs have continued in their previous form; they are simply doing less of the same type of work. They trimmed expenses, renegotiated their rent, technology and changed health care plans. Legal Voice slightly exceeded their fundraising targets in 2011. Their foundation support, which has traditionally constituted approximately one-third of their revenue is lower. They have intensified their foundation outreach, and refocused on individual donors.

Grant History with The Seattle Foundation:

Grants Awarded through The Seattle Foundation Grantmaking Program:

DateAmountPurpose
12/10/2012 $10,000.00provide general operating support.
12/10/2010 $10,000.00support general operating expenses.
3/10/2009 $20,000.00support general operating expenses.
3/22/2007 $50,000.00support the technology upgrade.

Financials

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