Oregon voters could get say on Equal Rights Amendment to state constitution | OregonLive.com

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SALEM — The Oregon Legislature may give voters the chance to amend the Oregon Constitution to include an Equal Rights Amendment for women.

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House Joint Resolution 35 would refer the issue to voters on the May 2014 ballot. It’s scheduled for a hearing Wednesday in the House Rules Committee. Proponents say it would solidify protections against gender discrimination.

“When you have your rights expressed in the Constitution, they’re as secure as they can be,” said Leanne Littrell DiLorenzo, the president of VoteERA.org, which requested the legislation.

Others say the amendment isn’t necessary and that elevating gender equality into the Oregon Constitution might make it appear more important than banning discrimination based on race, sexual orientation and other categories.

A state Supreme Court ruling already ensures strong gender equality protections, said David Fidanque, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon. A national Equal Rights Amendment is needed because the federal government treats sex discrimination differently than racial and other forms of discrimination, he said, but that’s not the case under state law.

The ACLU is remaining neutral on the state resolution after opposing two similar proposals introduced earlier this session. Fidanque said he’s not sure the state amendment would do anything new.

“We have argued that it’s not necessary from the standpoint of the law and the constitution,” he said. “It will provide insurance in case the Oregon Supreme Court ever changes its interpretation” of the constitution.

The state Constitution has not been amended since its passage in the 1850s to expressly protect the equality of the sexes, argues Littrell DiLorenzo.

It’s the same state Constitution that “wouldn’t let women vote. Women couldn’t own property, and women couldn’t work the same number of hours,” she said. “What we’re trying to do is to secure equality between the sexes, established in the Constitution.”

The campaign to pass a state amendment coincides with a revived national campaign to pass a federal Equal Rights Amendment. That amendment, approved by Congress in 1972, never went into effect because it fell three states short of the minimum 38 states that needed to ratify it.

In Oregon, similar legislation introduced earlier this session attracted broad support from Democrats and Republicans.

“The Oregon Constitution is very protective of individual rights, much more than the federal constitution,” said Rep. Jennifer Williamson, D-Portland, who has a Ms. Poster advocating for women’s rights on her office wall. Williamson supports an Oregon amendment, which she said would be “a safeguard to ensure that Oregon’s higher standard of protection continues.”

Rep. Julie Parrish, R-West Linn, said an Oregon Equal Rights Amendment is important in light of ongoing equity issues, such as the wage gap for women.

“There are folks who say we’re already there, but we’re not there,” said Parrish, who sponsored a similar resolution earlier this session. “As a mom, I’ve got three boys, and what I’ve said before is that I want my boys to grow up and understand that women can do anything, and the little girl they sit next to in class could be their wife, their friend, their boss. It’s important to memorialize that.”

— Yuxing Zheng

Mallory Hagan: Announcing the Miss America Foundation STEM Scholarship

Today, as I leave the US Capitol Building, I am very excited to announce along with our Chairman & CEO Sam Haskell, III the new Miss America Foundation STEM Scholarship through the Miss America Foundation that will further cement our leadership in educational opportunities for young women.

We thought moving back to our Atlantic City roots in September would be the most exciting part for our 12,000 participants each year. What better way to commemorate our return than with what we do best — funding scholars — helping women secure countless professional opportunities that a STEM education ignites. When Miss America began, it was a bathing beauty contest to extend the life of summer past Labor Day. That was then. This is now. Today, Miss America is about service and scholarship.

I traveled 20,000 miles each month this year to spread the word that young women need to make their own dreams come true through a good education. I have the opportunity to talk about the importance of STEM education and to share our organization’s efforts in advocating for the importance of education.

The Miss America Foundation is the world’s largest provider of assistance to young women, totaling more than $45 million in scholarships each year. 12,000 young women, in towns and cities across this country, participate in this program each year and each one who participates in Miss America receives scholarships that they then use for their education. I am testament to the strength of the scholarship program, as I have earned over $50,000 to finish my college education after my year of service.

Recently, I was so pleased to see Sharon Stone’s interview when we were both invited to the White House Correspondents Dinner in April. Sharon praised the Miss America program and told the interviewer that the only reason she was able to attend college was through a local pageant scholarship. Our scholarships are for medical school, military awareness, performing arts and now we can add STEM to that unique list.

As thousands of high-school seniors have now proudly counted themselves among the graduating class of 2013. For many students, whether from big cities or small towns, the possibilities seem endless. But they are also faced with the reality of affording a college education. As higher education costs soar across the country, a generation of young Americans will be forced to make personal and financial decisions that can impact their lives for decades as they make their college decisions.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who I will meet with next month during the Let’s Read, Let’s Move event, has stated that while a generation ago the United States had the highest college graduation rate in the world, today it ranks 12th among developed countries in the percentage of young adults with college degrees.

As Miss America 2013, I have been a strong advocate for children and now would like to represent students from my generation who want to make America stronger through education. Through our scholarship program, I hope to continue to help young women achieve their dreams through the power of the Miss America Foundation.

Please join me in advocating for young women to pursue a college education and make their lives and their families stronger for the future.

For more information, go to www.missamerica.org.

via Mallory Hagan: Announcing the Miss America Foundation STEM Scholarship.

Doctors’ Group Slams Anti-Abortion Laws For ‘Imposing A Political Agenda On Medical Practice’

pThe American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, a national organization representing thousands of women’s health experts, has publicly come out against the state-level abortion restrictions that impact the way doctors are allowed to treat their patients. The group’s Executive Board has issued an official statement opposing all laws that “unduly interfere with patient-physician relationships” and […]/p

via Doctors’ Group Slams Anti-Abortion Laws For ‘Imposing A Political Agenda On Medical Practice’.

By Tara Culp-Ressler on Jun 10, 2013 at 2:45 pm

(Credit: Patheos)
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, a national organization representing thousands of women’s health experts, has publicly come out against the state-level abortion restrictions that impact the way doctors are allowed to treat their patients. The group’s Executive Board has issued an official statement opposing all laws that “unduly interfere with patient-physician relationships” and compromise patients’ health care for political gain.
“Given the relentless legislative assault on the patient-physician relationship that we’ve seen in the past few years — and unfortunately continue to see — we were compelled to issue a formal Statement of Policy,” the group’s president, Dr. Jeanne A. Conry, explained in a press release. “A disproportionate number of these types of laws are aimed at women’s reproductive rights and the physicians that provide women’s health care services.”
In its formal statement, the doctors’ group criticized specific pieces of anti-abortion legislation that comes between women and their doctors — including forced ultrasound laws that require women seeking abortions to look at an image of their fetus before continuing with the medical procedure, “disclosure” laws that require doctors to tell women about the scientifically disputed link between abortion and breast cancer, and laws that require doctors to use an outdated procedure for administering the abortion pill.
The OB-GYNs point out that these type of laws allow legislators, instead of doctors, to set medical protocol. When doctors aren’t allowed to follow the current accepted medical practice because of a politically-motivated law, they aren’t able to provide their patients with the best quality of care. That dynamic has contributed to a serious shortage of women’s health doctors in states with harsh abortion restrictions, since medical professionals would rather avoid situations in which they may have to choose between providing their patients with the best health care and following a complicated state law.
“We are speaking out not just on behalf of OB-GYNs, but for all physicians and patients,” Dr. Conry noted. “Many of these laws are dangerous to patients’ health and safety. As physicians, we are obligated to offer the best evidence-based care to our patients. Government should stay out of imposing its political agenda on medical practice.”
This isn’t the first time that the College has weighed in on an area of women’s health that has become overly politicized by elected officials. Last fall, the group came out in support of improving women’s access to birth control by allowing them to buy it over the counter. It has repeatedly encouraged doctors to help reduce unintended pregnancies by providing teens with long-lasting contraception like IUDs. And, as the Obama Administration has continued to advocate imposing age restrictions on over-the-counter emergency contraception, OB-GYNs have reiterated that they don’t support preventing young teens from buying Plan B without a prescription.

A Ladydrawers History of Women’s Rights: Part I Earnings and Yearnings

A Ladydrawers History of Women's Rights: Part I Earnings and Yearnings.

Tuesday, 08 January 2013 09:12
By Anne Elizabeth Moore and Corinne Mucha, Truthout | Graphic Journalism

With this strip, Corinne Mucha and Anne Elizabeth Moore launch a new miniseries for Ladydrawers: a history of women’s rights. In it, they’ll look at some of the ways that the historic lack of women’s participation has led to inequities in legislative policy that have damaged everyone. This edition, “Earnings and Yearnings,” traces the birth of the women’s rights movement and the lingering wage gap.

Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.

http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/13746-a-ladydrawers-history-of-womens-rights-part-i-earnings-and-yearnings

Sexism’s Puzzling Stamina – NYTimes.com

Sexism’s Puzzling Stamina – NYTimes.com.

By FRANK BRUNI
Published: June 10, 2013 357 Comments

This month the Supreme Court will issue raptly awaited decisions about affirmative action and gay marriage. But what’s been foremost in my thoughts isn’t race, sexual orientation or our country’s deeply flawed handling of both.
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Earl Wilson/The New York Times
Frank Bruni

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For Op-Ed, follow @nytopinion and to hear from the editorial page editor, Andrew Rosenthal, follow @andyrNYT.

It’s gender — and all the recent reminders of how often women are still victimized, how potently they’re still resented and how tenaciously a musty male chauvinism endures. On this front even more than the others, I somehow thought we’d be further along by now.

I can’t get past that widely noted image from a week ago, of the Senate hearing into the epidemic of sexual assault in the military. It showed an initial panel of witnesses: 11 men, one woman. It also showed the backs of some of the senators listening to them: five men and one woman, from a Senate committee encompassing 19 men and seven women in all. Under discussion was the violation of women and how to stop it. And men, once again, were getting more say.

I keep flashing back more than two decades, to 1991. That was the year of the Tailhook incident, in which some 100 Navy and Marine aviators were accused of sexually assaulting scores of women. It was the year of Susan Faludi’s runaway best seller, “Backlash,” on the “war against American women,” as the subtitle said. It was when the issue of sexual harassment took center stage in Clarence Thomas’s confirmation hearings.

All in all it was a festival of teachable moments, raising our consciousness into the stratosphere. So where are we, fully 22 years later?

We’re listening to Saxby Chambliss, a senator from Georgia, attribute sexual abuse in the military to the ineluctable “hormone level” of virile young men in proximity to nubile young women.

We’re congratulating ourselves on the historic high of 20 women in the Senate, even though there are still four men to every one of them and, among governors, nine men to every woman.

I’ll leave aside boardrooms; they’ve been amply covered in Sheryl Sandberg’s book tour.

But what about movies? It was all the way back in 1986 that Sigourney Weaver trounced “Aliens” and landed on the cover of Time, supposedly presaging an era of action heroines. But there haven’t been so many: Angelina Jolie in the “Tomb Raider” adventures, “Salt” and a few other hectic flicks; Jennifer Lawrence in the unfolding “Hunger Games” serial. Last summer Kristen Stewart’s “Snow White” needed a “Huntsman” at her side, and this summer? I see an “Iron Man,” a “Man of Steel” and Will Smith, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and Channing Tatum all shouldering the weight of civilization’s future. I see no comparable crew of warrior goddesses.

Heroines fare better on TV, but even there I’m struck by the persistent stereotype of a woman whose career devotion is both seed and flower of a tortured private life. Claire Danes in “Homeland,” Mireille Enos in “The Killing,” Dana Delany in “Body of Proof” and even Mariska Hargitay in “Law & Order: SVU” all fit this bill.

The idea that professional and domestic concerns can’t be balanced isn’t confined to the tube. A recent Pew Research Center report showing that women had become the primary providers in 40 percent of American households with at least one child under 18 prompted the conservative commentators Lou Dobbs and Erick Erickson to fret, respectively, over the dissolution of society and the endangerment of children. When Megyn Kelly challenged them on Fox News, they responded in a patronizing manner that they’d never use with a male news anchor.

Title IX, enacted in 1972, hasn’t led to an impressive advancement of women in pro sports. The country is now on its third attempt at a commercially viable women’s soccer league. The Women’s National Basketball Association lags far behind the men’s N.B.A. in visibility and revenue.

Even in the putatively high-minded realm of literature, there’s a gender gap, with male authors accorded the lion’s share of prominent reviews, as the annual VIDA survey documents. Reflecting on that in Salon last week, the critic Laura Miller acutely noted: “There’s a grandiose self-presentation, a swagger, that goes along with advancing your book as a Great American Novel that many women find impossible or silly.”

I congratulate them for that. They let less hot air into their heads.

But about the larger picture, I’m mystified. Our racial bigotry has often been tied to the ignorance abetted by unfamiliarity, our homophobia to a failure to realize how many gay people we know and respect.

Well, women are in the next cubicle, across the dinner table, on the other side of the bed. Almost every man has a mother he has known and probably cared about; most also have a wife, daughter, sister, aunt or niece as well. Our stubborn sexism harms and holds back them, not strangers. Still it survives.

I invite you to visit my blog, follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/frankbruni and join me on Facebook.
A version of this op-ed appeared in print on June 11, 2013, on page A23 of the New York edition with the headline: Sexism’s Puzzling Stamina.

NOW Applauds Obama Administration’s Movement toward Allowing Access to Over-the-Counter Emergency Contraceptive Without Age Restrictions

NOW Applauds Obama Administration's Movement toward Allowing Access to Over-the-Counter Emergency Contraceptive Without Age Restrictions.

June 11, 2013

The National Organization for Women is encouraged by the Obama administration’s promise to federal district court Judge Edward R. Korman that it will withdraw its appeal of his ruling, in which the FDA was ordered to make all forms of emergency contraception available over the counter without age restrictions. With access to this safe and effective product, women of all ages will be able to take immediate action to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex.

Study after study has demonstrated that emergency contraception is an effective and safe way of preventing unwanted pregnancies. After a decade of wrangling over access to this medication, it is time for common sense and science-based medicine to win the day. NOW calls on the Obama administration to comply with Judge Korman’s order without delay and without qualification.

Buoyed by this victory, NOW activists across the country will continue to work to advance reproductive justice and defeat the radical right forces that play politics with women’s lives.

Sen. Shaheen announces push for young women to focus on engineering | New Hampshire NEWS02

Sen. Shaheen announces push for young women to focus on engineering | New Hampshire NEWS02.

By KIMBERLY HOUGHTON
Union Leader Correspondent

Doug Howe, professor of precision manufacturing at Nashua Community College, provides a tour of the school’s Advanced Manufacturing Center to U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and others on Monday. (KIMBERLY HOUGHTON PHOTO)
NASHUA — Announcing the launch of the Senate STEM Education and Workforce Caucus, U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen said Monday that more females should be pursuing engineering fields.

“We have got to get more young women involved in STEM subjects,” Shaheen told a small crowd gathered at Nashua Community College’s Advanced Manufacturing Center.

Shaheen has become a strong supporter of STEM education, an acronym for science, technology, engineering and mathematics. She will be co-chairing the Senate’s new STEM caucus, which will attempt to raise awareness of STEM education and workforce issues to improve the nation’s economic prosperity and global competitiveness.

In order to do that, Shaheen said more females must begin to show an interest. While women make up about 48 percent of the nation’s workforce, only 24 percent of the jobs in STEM fields are occupied by females, according to Shaheen.

If New Hampshire hopes to have 43,000 STEM graduates by 2018, women need to get excited about the opportunities in various STEM careers, the senator said.

“We have got to change the stereotypes,” Shaheen said, adding groups such as Merrimack High School’s Chop Shop 166 robotics team are setting new pathways for young women interested in engineering jobs. Shaheen told a small group of local and state officials about her legislation, the Inspiration Innovation School Grant Program, to boost access to STEM educational opportunities.

Mark Conrad, Nashua’s superintendent, stressed the importance of introducing young students to hands-on opportunities in these fields when they are still at the elementary level.

The more opportunities students have to think about their future careers, the better chance they will have at being successful, Conrad said.

“Watching those kids, it is amazing how excited they get and how talented they are,” he said of various programs such as the FIRST robotics initiative.

It is also critical to make the STEM subjects fun and interesting so that young students are excited rather than afraid of math and science. The Nashua School District is currently a part of a national pilot program designed to rethink how teachers instruct math to elementary students.

“We have a real commitment here in Nashua,” he said of boosting grades and interest in STEM subjects. Conrad mentioned Deepika Kurup, a city student and winner of the 14th annual Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge, the nation’s premier science competition for middle school students.

Kurup has found an innovative solution to harnessing solar energy for water purification, a technology she believes has the power to save millions of lives throughout the world.

While there are several amazing students like Kurup doing work in STEM areas, Conrad maintained that Nashua and New Hampshire still need more.

Mayor Donnalee Lozeau agreed that it is important to begin promoting STEM jobs at an early age. Companies hoping to relocate or expand into Nashua are searching for a skilled workforce, she said, commended BAE Systems’ mentor program.

“Unless you start early, this is not going to have an impact,” she said.

Brittany Lacy, a senior at Nashua High School North, will enter college this fall with a major in aerospace engineering.

“Up until this year, I was the only girl in my engineering classes,” said Lacy, acknowledging she has always had an interest in building things. “People often think of mechanical engineering as dirty work, but there is a lot more to it than getting your hands a little dirty.”

khoughton@newstote.com