It’s Been A “Safe Home” For Women Sold For Over 100 Years, Now It Has Been Sold

    Associated Press/Al Behrman – Sherene Julian, right, hugs her friend Robin Howard outside the Anna Louise Inn, in Cincinnati on Thursday, May 16, 2013. The two are residents of the home for struggling women. In a deal with Western & Southern Insurance Group, who bought the 104-year-old inn for $4 million, the women now living there will remain where they are for two years as a new facility for them is built. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)  less 



By AMANDA LEE MYERS | Associated Press – Sat, May 18, 2013

CINCINNATI (AP) — For more than 100 years, the Anna Louise Inn in downtown Cincinnati has been a safe, serene place that thousands of struggling women came to know as home.

But after losing a two-year fight with a Fortune 500 company determined to buy their beautiful, 104-year-old property and turn it into a boutique hotel — even though it wasn’t for sale — the women of the Anna Louise Inn have to leave the neighborhood.

While most of the 60 women living there are relieved that the fight with Western & Southern Insurance Group appears over, they can’t help but also feel sad and angry.

“I’m upset with them that they would be that greedy to take away what’s been here for so long for women,” said Robin Howard, 55, who has lived at the Anna Louise for more than two years after fleeing an abusive relationship. “We have rights, too. This is home. It’s a safe haven.”

For Wendy Gonzales, 25, the Anna Louise has allowed her to escape an addiction to methamphetamine and an abusive husband who she said forced her into prostitution.

“I thank God for the Anna Louise Inn. Without it, I don’t know where I would be,” said Gonzales, who now works as a housekeeper at a hotel within walking distance. “It’s quiet, it’s peaceful. Looking out here, you don’t see your average thugs walking down the street. … It’s just nice to walk out and know that you’re safe.”

The Anna Louise has been housing women since 1909 in the same charming, dormitory-style building that looks like a plantation home. Although it began by helping young, ambitious types who were pouring into then-booming Cincinnati, it later became geared toward women who needed a fresh start; some have left abusive husbands, others are transitioning from foster care to adulthood while others are recovering prostitutes and drug addicts.

The historic downtown Cincinnati neighborhood where the women live, known as Lytle Park, became an important part of their recovery, since most were coming from dangerous parts of the city where it’d be easier to slip back into their former ways of life.

Western & Southern executives, whose headquarters sit across a park from the Anna Louise, offered to buy the Anna Louise for $1.8 million several years ago, less than half its value. The Anna Louise declined and won $12.6 million in federal and state tax credits to renovate the home, where some rooms are smaller than 100 square feet and all the women have to share bathrooms and one kitchen.

Days before the renovation was to begin, Western & Southern sued over a zoning issue and a judge ordered an immediate construction halt until the legal fight was resolved. The Anna Louise and its supporters didn’t back down, vowing to fight Western & Southern with everything they had — until last week when they inked a deal with the company to sell the home for $4 million.

Leaders at Cincinnati Union Bethel, the nonprofit that runs the Anna Louise, said they sold reluctantly because they couldn’t afford to fight any longer.

Under the deal with Western & Southern, the women living at the Anna Louise will stay there until a new building for them is finished, in about two years. It will be located in a shabby neighborhood on a busy street 2 miles north of where they are now. The nearest park is a 1.5-mile walk away, over a freeway.

“Western & Southern had the money to fight and the Anna Louise Inn didn’t,” said Howard, who is about to receive a degree in social work, which she wants to use to help women flee abusive relationships. “When you have that much money and you want something, eventually you’re going to get it.”

The Anna Louise will now be among a bevy of properties in the neighborhood owned by Western & Southern, which developed Cincinnati’s tallest building in 2011 and has renovated a handful of historic properties in the area, including an upscale hotel.

Company CEO John Barrett has long said it was time for the women at the Anna Louise to leave the neighborhood to make way for economic development. He plans to turn the building into a boutique hotel and envisions transforming the neighborhood into a hub of activity with restaurants and bars.

“This truly is a win for everyone and will make Lytle Park a destination like no other,” Barrett said in a Monday news release announcing the Anna Louise sale.

Barrett, who has repeatedly declined requests for an interview, has become a loathed figure at the Anna Louise, not only for his tireless efforts to acquire the property but also for the way he has talked about the women living there, repeatedly referring to them as recovering prostitutes and saying they just don’t belong in the neighborhood.

“That hurt. To be categorized,” said Sherene Julian, 48, who escaped decades of drug addiction and prostitution when she moved to the Anna Louise. “It made me feel that I was lesser than.”

Julian, who recently moved in with her boyfriend but still gets medical services at the Anna Louise, said a part of the women’s home will always be with her.

“To me it’s sacred ground because that’s where I was able to turn my life around,” Julian said. “I know for a fact if the Anna Louise did not intervene in my life I would probably be dead.”

Tatiana McCormick, 24, who lived at the inn after leaving Ohio’s foster care system six years ago, said she’s angry about the home’s sale.

“A lot of these ladies now have to worry about their living situation,” she said. “This was something that was going well for people and it’s been there for three generations. To have it happen like this, it’s just outrageous.”


New Path to Ratify the ERA: Three-State Strategy Bill Introduced!

New Path to Ratify the ERA: Three-State Strategy Bill Introduced!.

May 9, 2013

By Terry O’Neill, NOW President
Advocates of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) were cheered Thursday when a bipartisan resolution was introduced by Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Ak.). The legislation would remove the original deadline specified in the 1972 bill which gave ERA advocates only seven years to attain ratification by three-fourths of the states. That deadline was extended to 1982, but by then only 35 of the required 38 states had ratified the amendment.

NOW and our many allies will work hard for passage of this crucially important legislation. With so many efforts by conservatives to turn back the clock on women’s rights, guaranteeing women’s equal rights in the U.S. Constitution is essential. Polls show that the public overwhelmingly supports a constitutional guarantee of equal rights for women and now is the time to get the ERA ratified. Rep. Rob Andrews (D-N.J.) has introduced an identical version of the resolution in the House; his bill currently has 32 co-sponsors. Andrews has sponsored similar legislation — referred to as the three-state strategy — in previous years. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D- N.Y.) will soon introduce a traditional or “start over” ERA bill.

NOW supports both the three-state strategy and the traditional ratification process: Women need the ERA whatever the path. Conservative politicians ‘war on women’ is a stark example of why women must have stronger legal protections. A push for an equality guarantee in the Constitution can be an effective tool in countering attacks on women’s access to health care and their attempts to slash funding for government programs that disproportionally serve and employ women. And it’s a safe bet that if women were equally represented in leadership roles throughout society — in government, business, the arts and nonprofits — our country would soon see more policies to end poverty, reverse climate change, protect the environment, ensure full civil rights for all in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, end gun violence, and support the rights of workers to form unions.

With the gender pay gap stagnating at 77 cents, it’s obvious that women need much better protections. Women of color, in particular, would benefit from the ERA with the gender pay gap for African-American women at 64 cents and for Latinas at 56 cents. Sex-discrimination is still a factor in many areas and the ERA would heighten the legal standard to strict scrutiny, enabling women to more successfully press their cases in court. Additionally, the presence of an equal rights amendment in the constitution would more broadly discourage discriminatory practices by employers, law-makers and government agencies.
An excellent history of the Equal Rights Amendment with a discussion of current ratification issues as prepared by the Congressional Research Service, appears on the NOW website here. The Cardin-Kirk resolution appears on our website here.

Co-sponsors of the Cardin-Kirk resolution include: Democratic Sens. Tom Harkin (Iowa), Carl Levin (Mich.), Robert Menendez (N.J.), Barbara Boxer (Calif.), Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Dick Durbin (Ill.), Frank Lautenberg (N.J.), Chris Murphy (Conn.), Debbie Stabenow (Mich.), Martin Heinrich (N.M.), Tammy Baldwin (Wis.), Mark Begich (Ak.), Mary Landrieu (La.), Sherrod Brown (Ohio) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

More information on the ERA can be found here.

Read more about constitutional equality for women

There Is a Lot to Celebrate for Women’s Health on the Third Anniversary of Obamacare | Center for American Progress

There Is a Lot to Celebrate for Women’s Health on the Third Anniversary of Obamacare | Center for American Progress.

This month marks the third anniversary of the enactment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the landmark health care reform legislation that was a victory in many ways for women’s health. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, women’s access to high-quality, affordable health care will increase dramatically, as key reforms are implemented and the country moves toward near-universal health coverage.
Due largely to the high cost of health care coverage—especially for women without access to employer-based coverage—19 million American women between the ages of 18 and 64 were uninsured in 2011. Uninsured women receive lower-quality care, and they generally have poorer health outcomes than insured women. Beginning October 1, 2013, however, millions of Americans will be able to shop for health insurance and compare plans through marketplaces known as exchanges, where some consumers may also be eligible for subsidies to help them afford coverage. The reform has also expanded access for low-income women by expanding Medicaid, and many states have already agreed to expand coverage under the program.
Below are the top three achievements to celebrate, the top three things to look forward to, and the top three items that we need to put on our agenda in order to advance women’s health through the Affordable Care Act.
3 achievements to celebrate now
Most of the law’s benefits will begin to take effect in 2014, but the law is already having an impact in a number of ways. Here are the top three benefits that have taken effect so far.
No-cost coverage for contraception and other preventive services
Since August 1, 2012, the Affordable Care Act has required all new, nongrandfathered health care plans to provide women with no-cost coverage for all methods of contraception and sterilization approved by the Food and Drug Administration, as well as host of other preventive services, including annual well-woman visits; lactation consultation and supplies; screening and counseling for interpersonal and domestic violence; screening for gestational diabetes; DNA testing for the human papillomavirus, or HPV, for women ages 30 and older; counseling for sexually transmitted infections; counseling and screening for HIV; and more.
Nearly 27 million women have already accessed at least one of these no-cost preventive services as of March 2013, and millions more are expected to access these services when the law’s major coverage expansions are implemented in 2014.
Protections for children
Women make the majority of health care decisions for themselves and their families. They can now rest a little easier knowing that there are fewer barriers to getting the coverage and care that their children need.
The Affordable Care Act has already made it illegal to deny children coverage because of a pre-existing health condition. In other words, plans may not exclude children who are under the age of 19 based on a health problem or disability that the child developed before a parent applied for coverage.
In addition, the law has already allowed young adults to stay on their parent’s health insurance policy until they are 26 years old, which has benefited young women who would otherwise be uninsured. More than 3 million young people have gained coverage though this provision, and the rate of insurance coverage for young women ages 21 to 25 increased from 71.2 percent to 77.5 percent since the law went into effect.
Finally, the law requires plans to cover preventive services for children such as vaccinations and well-baby and well-child visits without a co-pay.
Increasing affordability and consumer protections
Prior to the passage of the Affordable Care Act, 39.5 million women and 28 million children were enrolled in health insurance plans that had lifetime limits on their coverage. Women were hit especially hard by these limits, as they are more likely than men to suffer from chronic conditions. This meant that a woman who was diagnosed with a chronic condition or serious illness such as breast cancer, or a woman who had a child with a serious condition, would find that her insurer would cover only a fixed amount of medical costs and refuse to cover any additional expenses. These families would essentially lose coverage for their medical care precisely when they needed it most.
The Affordable Care Act has already prevented insurance companies from imposing lifetime limits on coverage, and it has begun phasing out annual limits on coverage, which have had a similarly detrimental effect. Beginning in 2014 annual limits will be eliminated entirely.
3 things to look forward to
Here are the top three reforms for women that are in the pipeline for 2014.
Ending discriminatory exclusions against women in the health insurance market
Prior to the Affordable Care Act, women were denied coverage for certain gender-specific conditions such as breast cancer or having had a Caesarean section. Even sexual assault and domestic violence were sometimes categorized as pre-existing conditions. But as of 2014 it will no longer be legal to deny women coverage because of a pre-existing condition.
Ending gender rating
In 2014 the Affordable Care Act will also end gender rating, a common practice in the individual insurance market where insurers frequently charged women as much as 150 percent more for their premiums solely because of their gender. One study found that women were charged $1 billion more per year in premiums for the same coverage as men. The new provision, however, will ensure that women have coverage for the care that they need without receiving this discriminatory treatment.
Ensuring that women have access to coverage for maternity care
Having a baby is an expensive endeavor. One study found that the average cost of a healthy birth in the United States is more than $8,000 for prenatal care and delivery alone—and costs only increase for complicated deliveries. Prior to the Affordable Care Act, 88 percent of individual-market insurance plans did not cover maternity care, which has created a significant barrier to obtaining needed care during pregnancy.
Beginning in 2014, however, all nongrandfathered health plans in the individual market will have to offer an essential-health-benefits package that includes coverage for maternal health services. Having this coverage will make a tremendous difference in women’s ability to access the care they need during pregnancy, protecting their own health and the health of their children.
3 items to add to the agenda in 2014 and beyond
While many accomplishments have been made in the area of women’s health since the Affordable Care Act was enacted, there is still plenty of work to be done to ensure that women have the coverage and care that they need. The following are three items that must be on our health care reform agenda in order to continue the progress that we have made for women’s health.
Push for Medicaid expansion in every state
Low-income Americans, and women in particular, face significant health disparities relative to more affluent Americans in large part because of inequitable access to insurance coverage and health care.
To ensure that low-income Americans can gain access to the health insurance coverage that they need, the Affordable Care Act expanded Medicaid eligibility to all people with incomes up to 138 percent of the poverty line—$14,856 a year for individuals—regardless of whether they are pregnant or parenting. Of the 17 million uninsured Americans who could become newly eligible for coverage under the Medicaid expansion, at least 7 million are women. But at least 4 million of those women live in states that have rejected the expansion or have not yet decided whether to expand coverage.
Without access to Medicaid coverage, low-income women in these states will have nowhere to turn to for health insurance and will continue to be at greater risk for poor health outcomes. We must continue pushing for all states to expand their Medicaid programs to ensure that these women’s health needs are not ignored.
Fight to ensure abortion will be covered in the health insurance exchanges
The Affordable Care Act includes language that allows states to pass legislation prohibiting private insurance plans in their exchanges from offering abortion coverage. In at least 21 states already, women will be prohibited from buying a private insurance plan that covers abortion in their health insurance exchange, and some of these states have gone so far as to ban abortion coverage in all private insurance plans in their state, including those remaining outside of the exchanges.
Creating this additional barrier to abortion coverage will hinder access to abortion for all women, but it will especially work to further increase disparities for lower-income women. We must keep fighting for abortion coverage to be included in the exchanges.
Defend against attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and decimate Medicaid coverage through block grants
There have been almost constant efforts by lawmakers on Capitol Hill to repeal some or all of the health care law. Some Republican lawmakers have also worked to replace guaranteed federal funding for Medicaid with block grants to the states, which would dramatically reduce federal spending on Medicaid and force states to cut back on coverage and benefits.
Both of these proposals would harm women around the country by turning back the clock on the gains made to improve access to quality health care. We cannot allow these erosions to occur.
After just three short years, women have already benefited significantly from the Affordable Care Act, and there is a great deal more to which we can look forward. But there is still a lot to be done to ensure that women have access to affordable and high-quality health care as we continue with the implementation of this historic law.
Lindsay Rosenthal is a Research Assistant with the Health Policy program and the Women’s Health and Rights program at the Center for American Progress.

Transphobia Has No Place in Feminism

Transphobia Has No Place in Feminism.

Sunday, 19 May 2013 11:31
By Lauren Rankin, PolicyMic | Op-Ed

Bigotry is often born out of fear and confusion at those whose identities we don’t understand. We fear that their difference reflects on our sameness, and in a rush to blanket ourselves in the comfort of conformity, we demonize their difference. Progressives often bemoan the bigotry underlying the policies and political positions of those on the right, but the sad truth is that bigotry exists even in progressive and feminist spaces. And nowhere is that more evident that in the transphobia, both latent and outright, that underwrites many facets of the feminist movement
The Twitter hashtag #RadFem2013 is littered with a small but acerbically aggressive sect of online feminists who have hijacked radical strands of feminism, rooted in challenging patriarchal structures and oppression, as a means to belittle, condemn, and berate members of the trans community. They contend that because trans women were born male, that they are not women. They actively exclude trans women from feminist spaces. They demonize trans women as female impostors and violently libelously label them as supporters of “corrective rape.” They harass trans women online and often publish the full names and addresses of trans women in online spaces. And yet, while they are perhaps the most visible perpetrators of transphobia within feminism, they are not the only ones.
Often, mainstream feminists simply avoid talking or writing about trans women. Trans woman and activist Sophia Banks emphasizes that while she identifies as a feminist, her experience within the feminist community has been largely mixed. “Intersectional feminists have been great but many radical feminists have been really hurtful towards me,” she says, highlighting that many feminists work within the confines of gendered language, and, perhaps unknowingly, operate from an assumption that cisgender women (cisgender means someone who identifies with the gender they were born with) are their target audience.
Any assumption that cisgender women are the only true women is a blatant form of bigotry. And honestly, it’s in direct violation of Feminism 101. After all, Simone De Beauvoir said more than half a century ago “One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman.”
Feminism is predicated on the idea that gender is a social construct, that women are not defined by their biology, and that the category of “woman” is informed and constructed by social gender norms. If women are more than what’s between their legs, why do some feminists continue to perpetuate a patriarchal notion that biology is destiny?
Feminism cannot be a movement to create boundaries about who is an acceptable woman and who is not. Feminism cannot be a means of promoting bigotry and isolation. Feminism is a movement for social change, one that challenges the gender binary and works to end the patriarchal oppression of women. Feminism is supposed to critique and combat bigotry, not perpetuate it. That is precisely what “rad fems” and any other transphobic feminists are doing; perpetuating bigotry against trans women while cloaking themselves in feminist rhetoric.
Any time that cisgender feminists fail to include trans women, that is transphobia. Those within feminism (or anywhere, for that matter) that perpetuate the demonization of trans people are purveyors of transphobic bigotry. Perhaps it’s the fear of losing privilege, of confronting the reality that we are not women because we are born that way, but because we choose to be. But those “Rad Fems” who dwell in the blind comfort of their own bigotry, who attack and stigmatize trans women, and who maintain that feminism is only for cisgender women, they need to understand that their bigotry will not be tolerated within feminist spaces.
Cisgender feminists must include and advocate for trans women. Rather than maintaining a myopic focus on trans women’s bodies, one that reiterates the same biological determinism we are trying to avoid, Ph.D candidate and queer activist Ricky Hill advocates that cisgender feminists should “focus more on highlighting and engaging the experiences and accomplishments of trans women into the rubric of feminism.” Cisgender feminists must not only make space for trans women within feminism, but enable their voices, perspectives, and stories to be disseminated and promoted. And as Sophia Banks emphasizes, it is just as important that cisgender feminists refute transphobia whenever they hear it, whenever they see bigotry and hatred pointed at any member of the trans community.
Trans women are women. How do I know that? Because they say they are women. Because they identify as women. Because your gender expression is not dictated by the gender with which you were born. Because I, and many other cisgender feminists, trust trans women when they say they are women. Because women are women, and that’s really all there is to it.
This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.

Republican Texas judge orders lesbian couple to live apart or lose children | The Raw Story


Republican Texas judge orders lesbian couple to live apart or lose children | The Raw Story.

A Republican Texas Judge has ordered a lesbian couple to live apart or give up custody of their children. According to Think Progress, Judge John Roach of McKinney, Texas has given Page Price 30 days to move out of the home she shares with Carolyn Compton and Compton’s two children from a previous marriage because he does not approve of Compton and Price’s “lifestyle.”

Roach has placed a “morality clause” in Compton’s divorce papers, which forbids Compton from having anyone she is not related to “by blood or marriage” in her home past 9:00 p.m. if the children are present. Same sex marriage is illegal in Texas, so by law, Compton cannot live with Price if she wishes to retain custody of her children.

Compton said that she and Price have been together for three years. Compton’s ex-husband rarely bothers to see the children and was previously arrested on charges of third-degree felony stalking in 2011, charges that he was able to plea down to criminal trespassing, a misdemeanor.

In a post on Facebook, Price wrote that Roach had inserted the morality clause into the divorce agreement when Compton’s ex-husband Joshua Compton attempted to gain custody of the children in 2011. The judge wrote that he disapproved of the two women’s “lifestyle.”

“Our children are all happy and well adjusted. By his enforcement, being that we cannot marry in this state, I have been ordered to move out of my home,” Price wrote.

The two women are working with attorneys to figure out what steps they can take to fight the state’s notoriously conservative court system.

Ken Upton Jr., senior staff attorney for Lambda Legal’s Dallas office, told the Dallas Voice newspaper that morality clauses are a holdover from a time when judges tried to keep people with children from living together outside of marriage. Courts often insert the clauses without telling the people involved, particularly in backward, conservative areas like Collin County, Texas.

“What the clause has become is an extra burden on gay people because they’re no more likely to violate it than straight people,” Upton told the Voice. “It’s a problem that continues with homophobia.”