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Celebrate the 96th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment Giving Women the Right to VOTE

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Why Women Must Still Fight For Voting Rights

Statement by NOW President Terry O’Neill

06.23.2016

 
The struggle to secure voting rights and the struggle to secure the rights of women have been intertwined in U.S. history since the historic meeting at Seneca Falls in 1848 endorsed the demand for women to have the right to vote.
Today, nearly a century after women won the constitutional right to vote, and a half-century after African American women and men won access to the ballot box through the 1965 Voting Rights Act, we are facing a new onslaught of state voter suppression measures.
Aimed primarily at communities of color, immigrants, and younger voters, these laws are the shameful progeny of the Supreme Court’s gutting of the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County v. Holder.
The fact is, voter suppression laws disproportionately impact women. That’s why the National Organization for Women (NOW) is proud to be a member of the Voting Rights Alliance to undo the damage done by Shelby, end voter suppression laws, and pressure Congress to protect and restore the right to vote for every citizen.
NOW activists are joining members and supporters of the new Congressional Voting Rights Caucus on Capitol Hill today to protest the Shelby decision and demand immediate action by Congress to pass the Voting Rights Advancement Act.
Restrictions on early voting disproportionately block women from exercising their right to vote. Women are over-represented in the ranks of low-wage work, and many can’t take time off to go vote on Tuesday. They need flexible voting hours via early voting.
What’s more, voter ID laws have a disproportionately negative effect on women. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, one third of all women have citizenship documents that do not identically match their current names, primarily because of name changes at marriage.
Beyond discrimination at the voting booth, when women are blocked from voting, anti-woman legislators get elected, and then they enact laws that harm women — like the tsunami of anti-reproductive rights laws passed by states in the past three years — or block beneficial policies like paid leave, equal pay, or an increase in the minimum wage.
NOW is proud that for the first time in our history, a woman will be nominated to run for President on a major party ticket. That’s a tremendous step forward. But undermining voting rights for our sisters and brothers of color will set back our democracy for generations to come. Shelby must not be allowed to stand. It is time to pass the Voting Rights Advancement Act without further delay.

Contact

Tamara Stein , planner@now.org , 951-547-1241
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IVoteNOW

 

ISSUE ADVISORY: Voter Suppression on Steroids for 2016 Elections
By Elika Nassirinia and Luna Floyd, NOW Foundation Interns
IVoteNOWJune 17, 2016
Mary Lou Miller was 7 years old when the 19th Amendment was passed. She made a promise to herself to take full advantage of her right to vote, and vote she did, from 1934 onward. Yet just last year, Miller, now 101 years old, was denied the right to vote because she lacked a government issued ID, a requirement under Texas’s new voting laws. The problem will be felt in other states: in North Carolina, approximately 218,000 registered voters do not have a government-issued ID required under the state’s law to cast a ballot. A disproportionate number are young people and college students. In our present state, voter suppression is no accident. For many it is a reality brought on by legislation intentional in its suppressive aims, measures that have and continue to result in unfair and widespread voting discrimination for already marginalized groups. This is all part of an extensive effort across the country to limit the influence of voters who usually support liberal and progressive candidates and ballot measures.
SUMMARY – The 2016 election, regardless of candidates, will be frustrating for many voters: it will be the first election with significant new barriers in various states, such as new, restrictive voter ID laws and no required federal preclearance before changing voting regulations. In the name of ending mythical voter fraud, these regulations aim to disenfranchise the most vulnerable members of our society: women, people of color, low-income communities, and LGBTQIA people will face increased difficulty when trying to exercise their right to vote in 2016. These efforts are not new – they follow a large-scale pattern of measures carried out by conservative Republicans to elect officials who do not champion equality for women and people of color. Some studies have estimated that three million voters in 30 states could be turned away from voting in the general election this November. However, if Congress passes the Voting Rights Advancement Act (H.R. 2867/S.1659), openly discriminatory efforts to limit voting would once again be against the law. However, passage of the act in the current Republican-controlled Congress will be an uphill challenge.
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New Voter ID Laws Create Roadblocks to Voting – The 2016 election will be an election where many new voter suppression laws take effect; 17 states will see new restrictions in the form of new voter ID laws. Voter ID laws disproportionately affect certain marginalized communities, often targeting women. Most voter ID laws require a government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license. This is a form of identification that over 16 million registered voters do not have. Senior citizens, college students, low-income families, and LGBTQIA people may not have these IDs for a variety of reasons.

  • Burdens on low-income communities – Sammie Lee Bates, a lifelong voter, ran into these problems when trying to vote in the 2014 midterms. As a low-income woman, she had trouble obtaining her Mississippi birth certificate to get the necessary Texas voter ID. The barrier standing in her way? $42. “I had to put $42 where it was doing the most good,” Ms. Bates said. “It was feeding my family, because we couldn’t eat the birth certificate. That’s for sure. And we couldn’t pay rent with the birth certificate.” Women, especially low-income women and women of color, often have trouble locating documents they can use to get a voter ID; even if a voter ID is technically free, the administrative costs to locate documents can be insurmountable for many eligible voters.
  • Challenges to women – New voter ID laws also target anyone whose legal name does not match their identification. Women who have been married or divorced may have discrepancies between names, if they change surnames according to their marital status. Up to 90% of women change their names in their lifetimes, but only 66% of women have photo ID with their current names. In states with strict voter ID laws, 34% of women would have to locate and present original marriage or divorce certificates to be able to exercise their right to vote.
  • For example, Texas judge Sandra Watts’ driver’s license was deemed insufficient under the state’s new voter ID laws – Watts’ license lists her birth surname as her middle name, while the state voting rolls contain her given middle name. As a judge, Watts’ access to resources and familiarity with the law allowed her to remedy the situation and eventually vote, but her situation is exceptional considering that many women lack access to such resources.
  • LGBTQIA discrimination – People in the LGBTQIA community also face harassment and discrimination at polling places under new voter ID laws. Transgender people whose photo IDs might not match their gender identity face harassment: in 2014, Asher Schor chose to challenge the Pennsylvania voter ID law so he and other transgender voters could vote free of discrimination from poll workers. The law violating Schor’s civil rights was struck down, as Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court Judge Bernard McGinley held that the law presents a “substantial threat” to the rights of “hundreds of thousands” of potential voters, and found the requirement to violate both state and federal constitutions. Obtaining new identification that reflects gender identity can be impossible, especially for low-income transgender people or people who cannot medically transition. New voter ID laws disproportionately affect transgender and gender nonconforming people at the polls.
  • State laws and voter suppression – Various state laws present different problems in terms of identification. In Wisconsin, new voter ID laws prevent the use of U.S. Veteran’s Administration ID cards to prove identity, often preventing homeless veterans from voting at all. In North Carolina, many early voting days – days historically used by African-American voters – have been eliminated. Famously, Texas accepts concealed-carry handgun permits but not state-issued student IDs for the purposes of voting. These laws form a disturbing pattern: women, LGBTQ people, people of color, and college students face undue difficulties in the voting process since the 2013 evisceration of the Voting Rights Act in the Supreme Court by a conservative 5-4 majority.

Data Shows Decline in Democratic, Minority Voters – Researchers at the University of California, using data from the annual Cooperative Congressional Election Study compared states with strict voter ID laws to those that allow voters without photo ID to cast a ballot. According to an article by Scott Keys writing for ThinkProgress (Feb. 2, 2016) and referring to data from the 2014 election, Democratic turnout drops by an estimated 8.8 percentage points in general elections when strict photo identification laws are in place, compared to just 3.6 percentage points for Republicans. Additionally, researchers found that in primary elections, a strict ID law could be expected to depress Latino turnout by 9.3 points, Black turnout by 8.6 points and Asian American turnout by 12.5 points.
KeepAbortionLegalVoter Suppression Endangers Reproductive Rights – One of the outcomes of voter suppression in many states has been an increase in the number of drastic restrictions on women’s reproductive rights. These restrictions have harrowing consequences for women’s rights, supporting the agenda of conservative, anti-abortion rights legislators. According to the Guttmacher Institute, states adopted 288 abortion restrictions from  2010-2015 – more restrictions were passed in these five years than in the 15 year span from 1995-2010.
According to the 2016 Who Decides? report by NARAL Pro-Choice America, 22 states enacted 41 anti-abortion rights measures in 2015 alone. Many of these states, including Arizona, Texas, North Dakota, North Carolina, and Wisconsin have enacted voter suppression measures after Shelby as well as placing severe limits on abortion rights.

  • Arizona, North Carolina, and Texas imposed restrictions on abortion providers meant to force clinics out of practice
  • Florida and North Carolina enacted mandatory-delay laws
  • Wisconsin banned abortion care after 20 weeks
  • North Carolina and Texas enacted measures meant to prevent organizations that provide abortions from receiving certain public funds, yet openly fund “crisis pregnancy centers” that often lie about abortion procedures.
  • Texas passed restrictions on young women’s access to abortions
  • Arizona passed a law forcing women to undergo ultrasound procedures before being able to access abortion care.
  • North Dakota’s abortion laws ban abortion after six weeks, which is both unenforceable and unconstitutional.

Shelby County v. Holder Decision Suppresses Votes – In the 2013 case Shelby County v. Holder, the Supreme Court vote declared section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act to be unconstitutional. This ruling removed the formula used to determine which states and jurisdictions are subject to federal preclearance before making changes to their voting laws, essentially exempting states from preclearance requirements. Thus states with past histories of voter discrimination – including Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia – no longer require federal approval before enacting changes to their voting laws, removing a significant barrier to protect the votes of already marginalized groups. Immediately after the ruling several states including Texas, Arizona, North Carolina, and Wisconsin passed a number of voting restrictions – Texas required a photo ID in order to vote, and North Carolina, in addition to enacting a voter ID law, terminated same-day registration for all voters and pre-registration for those under 18. These restrictions pose enormous barriers to the votes of women, communities of color, and young people, barriers which will significantly impact the election of more progressive legislators.
Felon Disenfranchisement Removes Civil Rights – Felon disenfranchisement is another crucial barrier to voting rights in the United States. Currently only two states, Maine and Vermont, have no restrictions on the rights of currently or previously imprisoned individuals to vote. Florida, Iowa, and Kentucky permanently disenfranchise an individual convicted of a felony. Other states have varying restrictions on felon voting rights, with the majority prohibiting individuals who are imprisoned, on parole, or on probation from voting. This leads to years of disenfranchisement, lengthy waiting periods, and a complex re-registration process.
ERA-YESFelon disenfranchisement is particularly significant considering the effects of the prison-industrial complex and the demographics of imprisoned populations. According to a 2016 report by the Prison Policy Initiative, the United States currently imprisons 2.3 million individuals. That is more people, per capita, than any other nation in the world. Racial disparities in prisons are stark – African Americans, while making up 13% of the U.S. population, comprise 40% of the prison population, while Latinos, who make up 16% of the general population, comprise 19% of the prison population. Thus, felon disenfranchisement disproportionately affects the votes of communities of color, groups who statistically vote for more progressive candidates. In addition, women are the fastest growing segment of the prison population, leading these restrictions to increasingly affect the votes of women, particularly women of color.
Restrictions on felon voting rights have consequences that reach beyond the right to vote. They result in feelings of alienation and frustration, of the notion of a lesser citizenship due to a past conviction. These policies affect real people.

  • Maryland community organizer Perry Hopkins told The Washington Post, “There is enough discrimination against us…I served my sentence. I paid my debt to society. Why am I still doing time?”
  • Navell Gordon, a voting rights organizer from Minnesota, shared with the Star Tribune “At the end of the day I’m out here doing good for my community, and voting is important to me.” Gordon wants to set an example for his daughter, and wants to “show her it’s good to get out here and vote.”
  • Mississippi’s Leola Strickland understands the importance of voting. “I always voted,” she told TIME. “My vote may be the one that counts to get the right person in office. It may be foolish of me to think like that, but that’s how I feel.” This notion is not foolish, and it is the very reason why restoring voting rights to felons is essential in a democracy.

Measures are being taken to restore voting rights to incarcerated individuals. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, restoration of voting rights to those with past criminal convictions was the second most popular type of reform in the latest congressional session, with 27 bills introduced in 15 states. The most popular were efforts to modernize registration. Maryland’s legislature overrode a gubernatorial veto, ensuring that voting rights are automatically restored to individuals after release from prison, and not taken away from those on probation. This measure restored the rights of approximately 400,000 individuals.
Virginia Governor Attempts to Restore Civil Rights for Ex-Felons – Recently, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) issued an executive order to restore voting rights to all felons who have served their sentences and been released from probation or parole, a measure that would restore voting rights to 206,000 individuals. Yet GOP leaders of the Virginia General Assembly sued in order to block the order, arguing that the measure and the minority votes it allows in the swing state is a political favor to Hillary Clinton. McAuliffe asserted that the suit “is an effort to continue to treat [ex-offenders] as second-class citizens,” and defended the order, stating that “we benefit from a more just and accountable government when we put trust in all of our citizens to choose their leaders.” In Kentucky, Republican Governor Matt Bevin suspended previous Governor Steve Beshear’s (D) executive order that would restore voting rights to ex-felons convicted of nonviolent crimes, a decision that, according to the Brennan Center, “sends Kentucky backwards and again makes it one of only three states in the country that permanently disenfranchises Americans for a mistake made in their past.”
YoungFeministMobilizingConfusion on College Campuses Keeps Young Students from Voting – Young, civically active college students face many difficulties in voting. Many new voter ID laws, including those in Texas, Wisconsin, and Tennessee, explicitly deny the use of student ID. Under North Carolina law, people who have registered to vote up to 90 days before an election may vote with an out-of-state ID, but if the registration is dated more than 90 days before the election, an out-of-state ID becomes unacceptable. This April a federal district judge upheld the law, deemed one of the most restrictive in the nation. Many students report problems with this law.
Proving residency also poses a problem for many out-of-state students. Misinformation about registering to vote as an out-of-state student abounds: students are incorrectly told they could jeopardize scholarships, make it impossible for their parents to claim them as a dependent on their taxes, and even that their health insurance could be endangered. University of North Carolina sophomore Isatta Feika had to cast a provisional ballot because of her out-of-state ID, and held that it is unlikely for her to vote again in North Carolina after experiencing the difficulties with voter ID laws. Bob Hall, the executive director of Democracy North Carolina, states that because these laws are “so much affecting young people, we’re teaching them the wrong lesson about democracy and about voting… we’re going right back to this message of ‘elections are not for you.’”
NOW F Fem logo-300x284Democratic Lawmakers are Fighting Back – Last June, the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2015, sponsored by Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Al-7) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), was introduced in Congress in response to Shelby, in an effort to modernize the Voting Rights Act in order to address the realities of voter discrimination today. In sponsoring the act, Representative Sewell urged her colleagues to recommit themselves to “restoring the promise of voter equality,” asserting that “our nation will cease to be a democracy if we limit access to voting.” The act aims to create a formula for preclearance to cover states with patterns of voting discrimination that may place voters at risk, requiring preclearance for not only southern states but those such as California and New York. The act would require public notice of any changes to voting laws take place at least 180 days before an election, and would protect against changes that discriminate against people of color and language minorities, such as reducing the availability of voting materials in languages other than English, addition or subtraction of state legislative seats that could influence the strength of minority votes, adding barriers to voting registration, and reducing or relocating polling locations. The act would allow a federal court to order a preclearance remedy if it finds any evidence of voting discrimination, expand the Effective Federal Observer Program, and improve voting rights protections for Native Americans and Alaska Natives.
New Voting Rights Caucus Promises Change – In May of this year, a team of four representatives, including Marc Veasey (D-TX-33), Terri Sewell (D-AL-7), Bobby Scott (D-VA-3), and John Lewis (D-GA-5), established the Congressional Voting Rights Caucus. Currently, the caucus has fifty members, all Democrats. The caucus aims to educate the public regarding various voter suppression tactics employed by states since the passage ofShelby, advance legislation that blocks current and future voter suppression measures, and modernize the voting process in order to better meet the reality of voting in the 21st century. The caucus has endorsed the Voting Rights Advancement Act, among eight others. They plan to introduce a Poll Tax Prohibition Act this June to block associated costs, such as fees associated with getting the paperwork needed for a voter ID or undue travel fees due to polling place closings.
The Transformative Justice Coalition, founded by lawyer and civil rights advocate Barbara Arnwine in 2015, signals another effort to further voting rights. The coalition works to achieve social justice through public education and engagement initiatives, and includes a Democracy and Voting Rights Project dedicated to “informed civil engagement” and “equal voting rights for all” regardless of “race, gender, disability, youth, ethnicity, ESL, and income.”
Since the Citizens United v. FEC decision in 2010 to treat political spending as free speech, elections have been flooded with corporate money, inflating the influence of corporations over American elections. Combined with new voter suppression efforts, democracy has been dealt a serious blow in the last six years. By allowing vast sums of corporate money and making it more difficult for marginalized groups to vote, political power remains in the hands of the elite.
Steps Taken to Limit Polling Places and Early Voting – According to a recent report on National Public Radio, voters in Maricopa County, Ariz. (Arizona’s most populous county) had only 60 polling places in 2016 compared to 200 in 2012. The number of polling places in the county was reduced by 70% in the four year period. In May, a federal judge in Ohio struck down a measure that cut early voting days from 35 to 28. Getting rid of early voting days makes voting impossible for many low-income people of color. Other states have enacted reductions to early voting days as well as eliminating same-day registration – in North Carolina, voters have to make two trips to exercise their civic rights, one to register to vote and one to actually vote. This is prohibitive to many voters who have to take time off of work and secure childcare. The excuses for these changes are usually cost-based, but their effects are far more insidious.
ElectWomenNOWAutomatic Voter Registration is a Step in the Right Direction – Positive changes in voting practices have taken place, however. Automatic voter registration, in which the government automatically registers every eligible citizen who has interacted with government agencies unless the individual declines, has gained momentum and bipartisan support in the past year. This system also electronically transfers voter-registration information to election officials, making the process significantly easier and less prone to error. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, in 2016 more automatic voter registration bills have been introduced than any other type of voting legislation. West Virginia, Oregon, and California have passed automatic voter registration bills, and 28 states have considered automatic voter registration this year. Online voter registration also continues to advance throughout the country, and 15 states have thus far considered online registration legislation.
Why Are There So Many Roadblocks to Voting? – Since the 2013 Supreme Court decision to repeal the preclearance section of the Voting Rights Act, states such as Texas, Arizona, North Carolina, and Wisconsin have been free to change their voting process however they would like. Almost invariably, these laws disenfranchise women, people of color and minorities, low-income communities, and LGBTQ people. What do these groups have in common? They tend to vote for liberal or progressive candidates.
Conservative politicians tend to advocate for strict voter ID laws, resulting in a pattern where more conservatives are voted into office as fewer people have easy access to the polls. As former South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint and conservative activist said, “…in the states where they do have voter ID laws you’ve seen … elections begin to change towards more conservative candidates.” DeMint is now the president of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. Currently, the Heritage Foundation has a list of recommended policies to “preserve voter integrity,” including restrictive voter ID and proof of citizenship, as well as the appalling suggestion to “Amend the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 to Allow States to Purge Individuals Who Have Not Voted in Two Federal Elections.”
FightTheRadicalRightOther conservatives have been far less diplomatic in their speech. A local GOP official in North Carolina, Don Yelton, said in 2013 that the state’s restrictive voting law “…hurts a bunch of lazy blacks who wants the government to give them everything.” (He was forced to resign after this racist statement).
As a general trend, marginalized groups tend to vote for progressive candidates. By making it more difficult for these groups to vote, election results tend to skew conservative. Voter suppression benefits Republican candidates and facilitates adoption of conservative legislation which, generally, has negative consequences for women and minorities.
What justification is being offered for these new laws? As Jim DeMint asserts, “The left is trying to draw votes from illegals, from voter fraud, a lot of different things.” Voter fraud is presented as the justification for all voter ID laws. Voter fraud is generally considered to be a myth by academics; on purely logical terms, voter impersonation at the polls has a negligible effect on the candidate’s chances of being elected, but carries very severe penalties if caught. Every legitimate study of voter fraud has found it to be nearly nonexistent. Voter fraud exists at such a low level that it is incomprehensible to base laws on its occurrence, let alone to actively construct barriers to voting for poor and minority voters.
In a 2015 speech at Texas Southern University, Hillary Clinton asked Republicans to “stop fear-mongering” about a “phantom epidemic of election fraud,” stating “What is happening is a sweeping effort to disempower and disenfranchise people of color, poor people, and young people from one end of our country to the other…it is just wrong…to try to prevent, undermine, and inhibit Americans’ right to vote. And at a time when so many Americans have lost trust in our political system, it’s the opposite of what we should be doing in our country.”
StopRacismNOWVoting rights expert Barbara Arnwine, in a statement on the Transformative Justice Coalition website, urged readers to support voting rights in 2016. Arnwine stated, “While some ruthlessly seek to deny and suppress the right to vote, many eligible voters struggle to appreciate the connection between the vote and their own daily lives given their disappointments with government. This combination of voter suppression and citizen discouragement is profound and deeply troubling yet not insurmountable. We can make a difference in fighting voter suppression efforts at the policy level and in the streets and homes of America by registering the 50 million unregistered but eligible voters and providing the tools to voters to fight back against the many voter suppression tactics.”
Conclusion – Although some states are passing fewer laws that restrict voting now, voter ID bills are still the most common forms of voting restrictions. Other forms of voting restrictions have gained momentum; however, 37 voter ID bills from 19 states were introduced or carried over into the latest congressional session, Missouri introduced a photo ID requirement that passed in the House and awaits a vote in the Senate, and West Virginia passed a slightly less restrictive voter ID requirement. Florida made its laws less restrictive by broadening the photo IDs accepted as forms of identification, adding veterans’ health IDs, government employee IDs, and concealed carry licenses. Efforts to restrict voter mobilization were carried out in two states, as Arizona has made it a felony for any individual other than a family/household member or a caregiver to collect and submit an absentee ballot, and Wisconsin eliminated volunteers who could previously verify voters’ residency when they submitted or collected voter registration applications, threatening the ability of groups to conduct voter registration drives. Finally, 17 states have voting restrictions in place for the first time in the upcoming presidential election, ranging from ID requirements to early voting cutbacks.
NOW 004 (Medium)Take Action – Voter ID laws, restrictive identification requirements, felony disenfranchisement, discrimination against women and minorities: all of these are forms of voter suppression. Since the Supreme Court decision to remove the preclearance clause from the Voting Rights Act, states have been easily passing laws that make it more and more difficult for women and minorities to vote. NOW activists should encourage members of their Congressional delegation to take a leadership role in helping to pass the Voting Rights Advancement Act that will afford protections to ensure that all members of our society can exercise their fundamental right to vote. Our feminist agenda depends upon strengthening representation in legislatures and in Congress for women and communities of color.
More Information:
American Civil Liberties Union
https://www.aclu.org/issues/voting-rights/fighting-voter-suppression
Brennan Center for Justice
https://www.brennancenter.org/issues/restricting-vote
Congressional Voting Rights Caucus
https://veasey.house.gov/votingrightscaucus/
NARAL Pro-Choice America
http://www.prochoiceamerica.org/assets/download-files/2016-wd-report.pdf
United States Congress, Voting Rights Advancement Act (H.R. 2867)
https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/2867

Posted 06/22/2016 by  & filed under Ending Sex Discrimination, Ending Violence Against Women, Stopping Violence Against WomenBy Angela Myers, Communications Intern
The juvenile justice system is criminalizing sexual assault victims. In our juvenile justice system, many, if not most, of the young women placed in the juvenile justice system are victims of sexual abuse.
Although in the last 20 years the amount of youths placed in the juvenile system has gone down, the proportion of young girls placed into the system has increased.  As stated in an Education Week article,“Sexual abuse is a “primary predictor” for involvement with the juvenile-justice system, and that girls of color—particularly African-Americans, Native Americans, and Latinas—are disproportionately affected.” By putting young women into the juvenile system, the root problems of bad behavior and delinquency aren’t being solved. Sexual abuse history is also strongly linked to the likelihood that a young woman will be charged again after release.
What is the issue?
The sexual abuse to Prison pipeline is an issue that focuses specifically on young women who have experienced sexual assault. These girls are pushed into the juvenile justice system for displaying understandable reactions to trauma, which usually meet the criteria for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). By being placed into the juvenile system, girls don’t have access to proper mental health treatment. As data and reports show, girls are 4.4 times more likely to experience sexual assault than boys. By placing these girls in the juvenile justice system we are taking them out of their communities, not giving them the help that they need to psychologically recover from trauma. The juvenile justice system is also known for having an ineffective education system. This inhibits those in the system to easily transfer out and back to school. So in the end, by placing victims in the juvenile justice system girls are taken out of their communities and everything they know.
Sexual assault is a traumatic experience that leads many young women to act out.  But the research so far shows that an overwhelming majority of girls in the juvenile justice system have experienced sexual abuse. In a 2006 study in Oregon, 96 percent of the girls in the juvenile justice system had a history of sexual abuse, and 76 percent had experienced one incident of sexual or physical abuse before age thirteen. Additionally, in a 2009 study in South Carolina of “delinquent girls”, 84 percent reported a history of sexual violence. In Angela Davis’s book, Are Prisons Obsolete?, Davis writes extensively, in the chapter  “How Gender Structures the Prison system,” on the sexual abuse that is experienced by women in the prison system in California, before and after they enter the system. A major problem and factor in our juvenile justice system and our prison system is that women and girls are being sexually abused in prisons, and if they aren’t, the standard practices of those systems have the potential to retraumatize victims. Strip searching, for example, is standard practice for adult prisons but on a case-by-case basis in the juvenile justice system. Being stripped searched can be retraumatizing for victims of sexual assault.
The most common crimes for which girls are arrested—running away, substance abuse, and truancy—are also the most common reactions to abuse. Putting these girls into the juvenile justice system is generally a harsher conviction than needed if we want to punish these girls for their crimes. These crimes are also often painted as ones that need to be punished early and quickly, rather than treated. These girls are not criminals, but victims. Once we see that these victims need treatment not punishment, hopefully then we will be able to curb the sheer amount of girls in the juvenile justice system.

Why is this important?
It has become obvious lately that the juvenile justice system and the prison system in general is flawed. A disproportionate amount of the women in these systems are women of color. By criminalizing young girls who have experienced sexual assault we are further traumatizing those girls and not fixing the root of the problem that caused their delinquent behavior. Girls who are put into the juvenile justice system also face the stigma of being labeled a “delinquent child” and that can follow them once they leave the system. Then after they re-integrate back into school the change in structure may retrigger problematic behavior. These girls and all young women deserve respect and also the proper care for their needs. This can change if we give therapy to girls who are exhibiting bad behavior in the classroom and signs of trauma. Also we can work toward ending sexual abuse toward young girls by giving therapy and rehabilitation to rapists and child molesters. As a society we need to stop sexual assault at all ages. Until then we can’t criminalize the behaviors of young women who are acting out because of their trauma due to sexual assault.
 

Forward Feminism – NOW Intrepid Awards & Gala

NOW’s 50th Anniversary Gala and Intrepid Awards will honor women whose lives epitomize the very definition of “intrepid” —resolutely courageous, fearless, bold.

Washington, DC 6-21-2016 NOW honors and celebrates their Intrepid Award honorees: Christine Brennan, Elizabeth Shuler, Chandra Wilson, and the founders of AWARE.
The Gala, hosted by television anchor Maureen Bunyan, and has cabaret style seating and feature food stations with an open bar.

Christine Brennan

CBpiclargerversion-791x1024Christine Brennan is an award-winning national sports columnist for USA Today, a commentator for ABC News, CNN and PBS NewsHour, a best-selling author and a nationally-known speaker. Twice named one of the country’s top 10 sports columnists by the Associated Press Sports Editors, she has covered the last 16 Olympic Games, summer and winter, and has reported from more than 20 countries.
Brennan was the first woman sports writer at The Miami Herald in 1981 and the first woman to cover Washington’s NFL team as a staff writer at The Washington Post in 1985. She was the first president of the Association for Women in Sports Media (AWSM) and started a scholarship-internship program that has supported more than 130 female students over the past two decades.
The best-selling author of seven books, Brennan is a member of the Ohio Women’s Hall of Fame and the Medill School of Journalism Hall of Achievement at her alma mater, Northwestern University. She has received honorary degrees from Tiffin (Ohio) University and the University of Toledo and is a member of Northwestern’s Board of Trustees.

Elizabeth H. Shuler

Liz-Shuler-2-816x1024

This image © 2009 Jay Mallin. All rights reserved. Licensed soley for use in publications, both electronic and print, websites, and public relations of the AFL-CIO. All other uses, publication, or distribution strictly prohibited. Licensing is contingent on payment in full of our invoice. For more information, contact: jay@JayMallinPhotos.com 202-363-2756


Elizabeth Shuler is the secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO, holding the second-highest position in the labor movement. She not only is the first woman elected as the federation’s secretary-treasurer, but also holds the distinction of being the youngest officer ever to sit on the federation’s Executive Council.
Shuler is active with many women’s causes. She is a member of the boards of the Women’s Campaign Fund, a bipartisan fundraising organization that aims to boost the number of women holding public office; Women’s Policy Inc., the caucus organization for women members of Congress; and the National Women’s Law Center. She also volunteered for many years with the International Women’s Democracy Center, an organization that sponsors mentoring programs encouraging women to run for office and seek change in countries overseas. Shuler also represents the AFL-CIO on various boards and committees, including the Women’s Committee of the International Trade Union Confederation.
As a graduate of the University of Oregon with a degree in journalism, ever since 1992, Liz has used every job as an opportunity to stand up for the underdog. Shuler’s efforts to broaden the union movement and to improve the economy for all working people defies many negative stereotypes the public has about unions. She is committed to busting those myths and helping unions show their diversity, their innovative approaches, their role in the workplace of the future and the quality improvement a union voice on the job can bring.

Chandra Wilson

ChandraWilson_DenimDay2-769x1024Chandra Wilson is an award-winning actress and director, best known for her portrayal of Dr. Miranda Bailey on “Grey’s Anatomy.” She has garnered the Screen Actors Guild, People’s Choice, Prism, and three NAACP Image Awards, and earned four Emmy Award nominations. In addition to acting accolades, Wilson received an NAACP Image Award for her directing of “Grey’s Anatomy.”
Wilson starred in “Muted,” which won the HBO Short Film Competition at the American Black Film Festival and won Best Acting Performance at the SOHO International Film Festival for the role. She gave an Emmy-nominated performance in Hallmark Channel’s “Accidental Friendship.” Additionally, for her portrayal of Bonna Willis in “The Good Times are Killing Me,” Wilson won a Theatre World Award for Outstanding Debut Performance. Wilson has had a prolific career with numerous film, television, and Broadway credits.
Wilson serves as national spokesperson for the Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome Association (CVSAonline.org) whose mission is to raise awareness about mitochondrial disease. She manages the Sermoonjoy Scholarship Fund, which provides college scholarships, and the Sermoonjoy Fellowship Fund, which provides annual fellowships to mid-career actors. More philanthropic information can be found at sermoonjoy.org and chandrawilson.com.
A native of Houston, Texas, Wilson began performing at age five. She is a graduate of Houston’s High School for the Performing and Visual Arts and NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.

The Founders of AWARE

FJACAWARE (Assisting Women through Action, Resources & Education –www.awarenyc.org) is a grass-roots organization dedicated to promoting awareness and generating funds in order to make meaningful improvements in the lives of women and girls in the New York City and Connecticut communities. Each year, AWARE creates a partnership with one carefully-selected, under-resourced charity. AWARE then organizes a fundraiser, a hands-on volunteer event and an educational symposium based on the needs of the chosen organization and the population they serve. This unique model allows AWARE to shine a focused light on meaningful women’s issues.
AWARE was originally co-founded in 1992 by a group of friends –- spearheaded by Rachel Justus and Amy Saperstein — who wanted to make a difference in the lives of deserving women and girls in their own community. AWARE’s current success is due to a passionate and dedicated team of volunteers, co-led by Cassie Avirom, Kira Copperman, Ellen Friedman and Rachel Laikind Justus in New York City and Amy Frome Saperstein in Connecticut.
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Maureen BunyanCassie Avirom is the Office Manager for Seven Harbour Global, a hedge fund in New York City. Kira Copperman, LMSW, President of KBC Consulting and author of Send/Receive/Confirm, is an executive coach and facilitator specializing in workplace communication. Ellen Friedman is EVP of RPG, a global visual merchandising and retail design build firm. She leads business development, account management and creative vision for RPG and many distinguished clients. Rachel Laikind Justus, LCSW, a Social Worker in Women and Children’s Services at Mount Sinai Hospital since 1998, currently leads the Woman to Woman gynecologic oncology support program. Amy Frome Saperstein is the former Executive Director of Project Sunshine, which provides volunteer programming to hospitalized children and their families.

Gala Emcee

MBA 44-year veteran of television news, Maureen Bunyan anchors the 6 o’clock weeknight newscasts for ABC7-WJLA-TV/ She is known as a leader in the newsroom and an advocate for women and minorities in journalism. She is a founder of the International Women’s Media Foundation, which serves women in the media in 100 countries. She is also a founder of the National Association of Black Journalists, where she was inducted into the Hall of Fame in January of 2014.
In recognition of her significant contributions to broadcasting, Maureen has been honored with numerous professional and community service awards including begin named Washingtonian of the Year. In addition, she was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the Washington Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, The Silver Circle of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and the Broadcast Pioneers Club of Washington.
She has also been awarded seven local Emmys, and the “Ted Yates Award,” given to Washington, DC news broadcasters who are leaders in the profession. In June of 2014, she was knighted and inducted into The Order of Orange-Nassan, a Dutch order of chivalry. She was inducted for her longstanding commitment to build and strengthen ties between Aruba and the United States. She has an extensive record of serve to the community.
She attended the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Columbia University School of Journalism and holds a Master’s degree from Harvard University Graduate School of Education.
NOW members will recall her participation as the Emcee at the Intrepid Awards events honoring women for their significant achievements and leadership. She will be with us once again for the 50th Anniversary Gala on June 23.

quoted and photo credits as posted on www.now.org blog Gala Honoree’s

 

NOW_2016-Conference-Concepts_r6

Forward Feminism: National Organization for Women’s 50th Anniversary

Carrying the Torch Together

In June, NOW will commemorate 50 years of feminist grassroots activism with our 50th Anniversary Gala and Forward Feminism Conference at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill. On June 23, we will honor a stellar group of women with NOW’s Intrepid Awards. The Forward Feminism Conference will follow on June 24-26. We hope you can join us in celebrating 50 years of advocacy for equality and justice.

In addition to inspiring plenary speakers and informative workshops, attendees will also elect the 2016-2018 NOW National Board, debate and adopt the National NOW strategic action program, and debate and vote on a proposed bylaw amendment.
Held every June or July, the National Conference is the “supreme governing body of NOW,” as specified by the national bylaws. Decisions made at these conferences are binding to all members and sub-units of NOW.
Chapter and at-large delegates vote on a wide range of proposals (called resolutions) that address both external issues, such as legislative attacks on reproductive rights, and internal issues, such as membership recruitment practices. Every four years, conference delegates elect the national NOW officers.

StopViolenceAgainstWomenOrlando Shooting a Response Posted 06/13/2016 by & filed underActivism, Ending Sex Discrimination, Ending Violence Against Women,Health, LGBTQIA Rights, NOW.

The day of:
10am – When I see it, I’m holding hands with my girlfriend. I’m checking Facebook over Cheerios on a Sunday morning and I see headlines. 20 dead, in a gay nightclub in Orlando. My blood runs cold.
My girlfriend’s bus back to NYC leaves in three hours. I can’t deal with this right now. I hold her hand tighter and suggest a trip to a museum.

1pm – Her bus leaves. We wave, and blow kisses, and I wonder how much danger we are in. My hand curls around my pepper spray in my bag even as I kiss her goodbye.
2pm – I am sitting in a McDonald’s in Union Station. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. This is the worst mass shooting in the US. 50 dead. 53 injured. I wander Union Station in a daze. The worst mass shooting was against me, against who I am. I am not safe here. I felt safe yesterday, as queer people flooded the streets for the DC Pride Parade. I waved flags; I kissed my girlfriend on the street. I didn’t know that a few hours after the crowds left, police would flood a nightclub that was supposed to be a safe haven for people like me.
3pm – I make it home. I don’t remember getting there, just turning the key in the lock. I read an article about a victim of the tragedy texting his mother before he died.
Orlando_shooting_mom_1465831121281_1435508_ver1.0
I think about sending those texts to my mom. I text my mom, she doesn’t respond. I finally cry.
5pm – My friends say they feel empty. I can’t decide if I feel empty or angry. I wish I had someone here. I throw away most of the stuff I got from Pride. The rainbow flags, pins, buttons, stickers – they don’t protect anyone. I feel like I’m in danger. I go inside. I can’t stop checking the news. Every new name hurts.
There is a gay community. I know the feeling of seeing another lesbian couple holding hands in the streets. I know the elation of seeing myself represented in my favorite television shows, in music and movies. We support each other, keeping each other afloat. I know my community’s rich history and how we take anything that is thrown at us and make it our own. Instead of flinching at the slur queer, we took it back and made it something we call ourselves. We reclaim, carving out our space to exist. Hurt one, and the whole community feels it.
I don’t know how we’re going to reclaim this.
8pm – I read that the victims’ phones are ringing. The bodies are still in the nightclub, and their families are calling, calling, calling to see if they are alright. They aren’t alright.
Omar Mateen, the shooter, legally purchased his semiautomatic assault rifle a few days before the Orlando massacre. With that rifle, he was able to kill an unprecedented number of people. His ex-wife reported that he was a domestic abuser. The attack happened specifically during a Latin Night event, targeting not only queer people, but also people of color. Apparently he was motivated in part by anger seeing two gay men kissing in front of him. What if that had been my girlfriend and me? Who has seen me and thought of violence?
All these pieces fit together. They tell a story of lax gun laws, a culture that does not encourage women to report domestic violence, racism, and homophobia. This story ends in fifty people like me dead. I close my computer.
10pm – I Skype my girlfriend. She’s terrified to go to New York City Pride. We cry, together, across a grainy connection. We don’t talk much. I want to be there, to hold her and tell her everything will be okay.
I don’t know if it will be okay. A man was caught with three assault rifles, ammunition, and bomb materials on his way to LA Pride on Sunday. Will New York Pride be safe? Is anywhere safe?
Right now, America is the most accepting of LGBTQ people it has ever been. From Laverne Cox to Glee, gay and trans people see themselves represented in media. Pride celebrations occur in nearly every major city. LGBTQ people have support systems in the form of online communities, Gay-Straight Alliance clubs, and, yes, gay bars. Historically, gay bars have been a place of sanctuary where queer people can express themselves fully through drag shows, dancing, and an accepting atmosphere. Pulse was founded to honor the owner’s brother John, who died of AIDS, and has served as a gathering place for LGBTQ people in Orlando since its 2004 opening. The name of the club, Pulse, refers to John’s heartbeat, as a living memorial he would be proud of.
My pulse is too fast. I put on some Simon and Garfunkel to calm down.
“I turned my collar to the cold and damp
When my eyes were stabbed
By the flash of a neon light
That split the night
And touched the sound of silence”

That is the purpose of these queer spaces. They are places to split the night, break queer silence, to reach out of the closet. The neon lights of a club are there to shed light on you, on your own terms. To face danger together. To mourn, to celebrate, to take how different you are and shout it to the stars.
12am – I fall asleep. I will put myself back together in the morning, I will lift up my community, and we together will work to fix the issues that made this disaster possible.
For now, I dream of dancing in the dark without fear.

One Response to “Orlando Shooting: A Response”

Gay Bruhn June 18th, 2016
You have captured what many of us feel. Please know you are not alone. Thank you.

13315335_854840401327183_8870038217619448457_nMarriage equality isn’t just a political wedge issue, it’s the fundamental right to legal recognition and protection of a relationship with a life partner. The stories of people who love each other and those who support such loving relationships offer a powerful testimonial in support of marriage equality.
We want to share your stories about the emotions and love that strengthen your life as an LGBT-identified person or an LGBT ally.
We’re going to use these stories to change policy and make marriage equality a reality for all people.
TAKE ACTIONNOW

National Organization for Women – AZ – Political Action Committee (PAC) Federal Candidate Survey
 
Welcome to the AZ NOW PAC endorsement process!
TO SUBMIT YOUR APPLICATION:

  1. online via google survey link above
  2. print the completed pdf survey (from link) and mail to:
    NOW PAC AZ c/o Kathryn Baumgardner P.O. Box 45558 Phoenix, AZ 85064
  3. email completed survey to: nowpac.az@gmail.com

The National Organization for Women is a grassroots feminist organization. The strength of our endorsement lies with the support and enthusiasm that our members bring to the campaigns of candidates endorsed by NOW PAC. http://nowpac.org/category/latest-news/
All Arizona candidates seeking AZ NOW endorsement must fill out this application first to be considered for the AZ NOW PAC & AZ NOW Board. Some candidates may have a follow-up interview. Find out more at the NOW website: http://nowpac.org/endorsements-process/
Thank you for running for office! Aside from the obvious benefits of running for office, YOU are providing a model for young women to be a part of our democratic process.
On behalf of the AZ NOW Board and AZ NOW PAC, I wish you every success in your feminist campaign.
Kathryn Baumgardner, AZ NOW PAC Coordinator 2015-2017

2016 AZ NOW PAC Statewide Candidate Survey
Welcome to the AZ NOW PAC endorsement process!
TO SUBMIT YOUR APPLICATION:

  1. online via google survey link above
  2. print the completed pdf survey (from link) and mail to:
    NOW PAC AZ c/o Kathryn Baumgardner P.O. Box 45558 Phoenix, AZ 85064
  3. email completed survey to: nowpac.az@gmail.com

The National Organization for Women is a grassroots feminist organization. The strength of our endorsement lies with the support and enthusiasm that our members bring to the campaigns of candidates endorsed by NOW PAC. http://nowpac.org/category/latest-news/
All Arizona candidates seeking AZ NOW endorsement must fill out this application first to be considered for the AZ NOW PAC & AZ NOW Board. Some candidates may have a follow-up interview. Find out more at the NOW website: http://nowpac.org/endorsements-process/
Thank you for running for office! Aside from the obvious benefits of running for office, YOU are providing a model for young women to be a part of our democratic process.
On behalf of the AZ NOW Board and AZ NOW PAC, I wish you every success in your feminist campaign.
Kathryn Baumgardner, AZ NOW PAC Coordinator 2015-2017