In this issue:
• New National NOW Officers Begin Work
• NOW President Condemns White Supremacist Violence
• Women’s Equality Day Events Planned – What is Your Chapter Doing?
• New Items Available in the NOW Rounds Store
• Sharing NOW Petitions
• Chapter Highlights
• ACA Amazingly Survives Repeated Efforts to Repeal– But It’s Not All Over
• August Anniversaries for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid – Vital Programs Are Under Attack
New National NOW Officers Begin Work
Newly elected NOW president, Toni Van Pelt, and vice president, Gilda Yazzie, started working at the National Action Center in Washington, DC, on August 1. Toni brings decades of experience fighting for women’s rights, holding NOW leadership positions on the local, state, and national levels. Gilda has served on NOW’s national board since the early 2000s.
Thanks to Terry and Bonnie - A big thank you again to immediate past president, Terry O’Neill, and vice president , Bonnie Grabenhofer, for eight years of strong feminist leadership.
NOW President Condemns White Supremacist Violence
New NOW president, Toni Van Pelt, issued a statement in the wake of racist violence in Charlottesville, Va., stating that the white supremacists who launched a brutal protest against the city’s plan to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee must be held to account for their violence and hate speech.
Charlotte Gibson, president of Charlottesville NOW, said, “The White nationalists, neo-Nazis, armed militias and racist extremists who came to Charlottesville and tried to hijack democracy today will not succeed. Their rhetoric is never acceptable in a civilized society, and their embrace of violence must never be tolerated.”
Trump Recants – Racists, Extremists Thrilled - On Tuesday, Donald Trump recanted an earlier statement condemning the extremists at the Charlottesville Unite the Right event by claiming that there was violence on both sides. He also criticized efforts to remove monuments to the Confederacy, questioning in a false equivalence, “are we going to remove statues of Washington and Jefferson?” There was widespread condemnation of this latest statement, but it’s clear that Trump is speaking to his 34 percent of supporters who will overlook all of his outrageous statements and destructive policies. Former KKK leader David Duke praised Trump for his “honesty and courage” and white supremacist leader Richard Spencer tweeted that Trump was “fair and down to earth.”
Women’s Equality Day Events Planned – What is Your Chapter Doing?
We will celebrate Women’s Equality Day, August 26, the anniversary of the certification of the 19th Amendment recognizing women’s fundamental right to vote. August 26 was officially designated Women’s Equality Day in 1971, when Rep. Bella Abzug’s (D-NY) bill recognizing the day passed.
For the observance the National Action Center will be directing attention to the continuing need to fully ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). The lack of equal protection for women in the U.S. Constitution results in varying court decisions related to equal pay, hiring and promotion, pregnancy accommodation, reproductive rights, and many other areas. With renewed energy and commitment by grassroots activists in a number of unratified states since the March 22 adoption by the Nevada legislature of a ratification measure, we are focusing on building ERA strength in Illinois, Virginia and North Carolina, primarily. We only need two more states!!!
To increase public attention on the ERA, numerous events are being planned across the country for Women’s Equality Day. If your chapter or state organization needs creative suggestions on organizing for that special day, the National Women’s History Project
has many great suggestions; check their ideas out at, http://www.nwhp.org/resources/commemorations/womens-equality-day/
A sample proclamation that your mayor or governor may want to issue for that day, an account of the history behind Women’s Equality Day, and other resources are available on that webpage.
D.C. Events Slated
- In Washington, D.C., there are plans for a series of events, beginning on Friday, August 25, including a 9 a.m. press conference in the Cannon House office building and an activist lobby day training on ERA legislation (S. J. 5/ H.J. 53)
that would remove the historic deadline for ratification of the ERA. Lobby visits to Senate and House offices will follow. (By the way, fact sheets and talking points are on the NOW Website (http://now.org/nap/era/
) as part of NOW’s National Action Program, if you want to try to meet with members of your Congressional delegation while they are in home districts or come to DC to participate in events here.)
If your chapter has special plans for Women’s Equality Day, please share them with National NOW! You may email Elissa Blattman, our Chapter Services Specialist, at firstname.lastname@example.org
New Items in the NOW Rounds Store
We have added new items to the NOW Rounds Store
. The new signs read, “Intersectional Feminism,” “End Voter Suppression,” “Respect Women of Color,” and “LGBTQIA+ Equality.” These square, black and white signs measure 12” x 12”. We passed these smaller signs out at the Women's March in January, and they have been a big hit with members since then. We have received multiple requests from chapter leaders to make them available for purchase, so they can be given out to their members. The signs are being sold in bundles of 20 for $20.
Our NOW logo rounds and all future-printed rounds will now be 18” in diameter, as opposed to the previous 22”. This smaller size allows for rounds to be packed in suitcases, and makes them easier to manage when traveling, taking them on public transportation, and holding them for long periods of time at a march, rally, or protest.
We are also working on designs for new and updated NOW rounds, including a new LGBTQIA+ round. Keep an eye on the store for these new designs in the coming months.
Sharing NOW Petitions
We have received requests from chapters to post NOW petition emails on our website, so it might be easy to share. This has been a request we have received in the past, but has proven to not be the most efficient way to share these petitions. Instead of sharing the email, we promote sharing the petition itself, which has already-crafted language to make posting to social media more efficient.
Southeast Kansas NOW made a donation earlier this year to the Mount Carmel Foundation at Via Christi Hospital in Pittsburg, Kans., for SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) training. Currently there is a shortage of people trained to do the exams, especially on minors age 14 and under. This can result in victims having to wait, or ride two hours in a cab to another hospital, which puts a further burden on someone who has already been traumatized.
Santa Fe NOW
has started a new fundraising effort called NOISE FOR NOW
. NOISE FOR NOW is a national initiative that enables musicians and performers to connect with, and financially support, grassroots organizations that are dedicated to empowering women, and protecting women’s health and abortion rights. Their first benefit concert, which will be held on September 9, is already sold out.
Chicago NOW recognizes two women each year who are making a positive impact on the lives of women and girls in the city. This year, they will be honoring State Representative Sara Feigenholtz and Tamar Manasseh, Founder and President of MASK (Mothers/Men against Senseless Killings), at their upcoming Women Who Dared award reception on September 27.
ACA Amazingly Survives Repeated Efforts to Repeal – But It’s Not All Over
We were holding our collective breath for the July 28 Senate vote on a Republican “skinny repeal” version of the Affordable Care Act that would have led to an estimated 15 million persons losing health insurance in the following year and an increase of 20 percent in premium rates for persons buying individual plans. Funding for Planned Parenthood would have been stopped for one year, states could waive requirements that insurance plans cover maternity care and prescription drugs and the legislation would have ended funding for a wide range of prevention and public health plans.
Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R–AK) and Susan Collins (R-ME) promised to vote against the legislation causing a tie, so the White House sent Vice President Pence cast the deciding vote in favor of passage. But Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) voted thumbs down against the measure because, as he indicated, the Senate needed to proceed with any health care legislation under regular order with hearings, debate and amendments. The Senate Republican’s goal of passing a skeletal bill was to get it to a conference committee with House conferees when, in our view, the final bill would likely have been imparted a devastating blow to the millions who have accessed affordable coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
Many insiders believe that the Republicans who for seven years tried to repeal the ACA are not totally giving up. Currently, there is a small group of bipartisan senators working on “fixes” to specific problems in the ACA and to take action to stabilize certain health insurance markets. That legislation may be unveiled soon. Or, Republican leadership could come back next year with a destructive fifth (or is it the sixth?) version of repeal/replace and have lined up all the necessary votes. So, please stay tuned.
August Anniversaries for Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid – Vital Programs Are Under Attack
Social Security turned a young 82 years old on August 14, while both Medicare and Medicaid recently observed their 52nd anniversaries. Social Security serves 61 million retirees, persons with disabilities, and families of disabled or deceased workers. Medicare, the health care program that covers seniors, serves more than 55 million persons, and Medicaid plus CHIP (Child Health Insurance Program) serves 75 million person (60 percent of adult beneficiaries are women).
Trump and Republicans Aim to Undermine - Even though these programs remain overwhelmingly popular with the public and necessary to the survival of millions of individuals and their families, the Trump administration and conservative allies are moving forward to undermine all three. Recently, the administration offered an early buyout to a quarter of Social Security Administration (SSA) employees eligible to leave – which if they all take the offer -- would seriously constrain the agency’s effectiveness. Already 60 field offices and 500 mobile offices have been closed. A commission to address Social Security’s long-term solvency is being promoted —something NOW opposes because it would be a cover to cut benefits, an action that would disproportionately harm women, and to promote private accounts.
Republican repeal and replace bills for the Affordable Care Act proposed to take billions away from future Medicare funding. House appropriations measures are attempting to block grant (and begin serious reductions in funding) of Medicaid programs. Republicans will also propose to convert Medicare to a voucher program where if your medical bills exceed the voucher amount – too bad! All proposals should be defeated.
Democrats Plan to Strengthen Social Security - In the meantime, Democratic leaders in Congress are working on numerous bills that would expand Social Security, address long term fiscal strength by lifting the cap on the payroll tax so that the rich pay their fair share, improve benefits across-the-board, adopt a caregiver credit, improve SSA’s service and make other improvements. NOW is a leading organization in a large coalition effort to update this vital program and is urging that improvements be made to reduce poverty among elderly women. The issue promises to be central in the 2018 election campaigns.