June 2016 – Call to Action – Women Demand Control Over Our Reproduction

Women are the Experts: National Week of Action for Abortion and Birth Control
June 3-10, 2016

#thisoppresseswomen #notmyclinic #shoutyourabortion

Call to Action – Women Demand Control Over Our Reproduction

Controlling our reproduction is a basis of women’s freedom. On May 16, 2016, the Supreme Court decided Zubik v. Burwell and is expected to decide Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt next month. Whatever the outcome, the Court will change women’s access to abortion and birth control – and we’re expected to passively wait to see how our lives will be affected.

Enough already!  We demand control over our reproduction.  Join us for a Week of Action.

Speaking out is a powerful tool. In Florida and New York, we’ll host women testifying on their experiences with abortion, birth control, and pregnancy scares. We will distribute a packet on how to host a speakout- and we hope that women around the country will also organize events where women can testify on their need to control their reproduction.

Abortion rights were won by organized women- not simply given to us by the Supreme Court. In the United States, abortion rights were won by everyday women who joined together in groups and dared to tell the truth publicly about their own illegal abortions or their fears of the consequences of unwanted pregnancy.

We saw this first in New York where, on February 13, 1969, women won greater access to abortion from the state legislature after a group of radical feminists who would soon take the name Redstockings disrupted a New York City hearing on abortion reform.  The New York legislature planned to create reform based on the opinions of a panel of “experts”—consisting of 13 men and a nun. But we know that women are the experts. These feminists demandedthat the hearing members listen to the real experts–women!  Women interrupted the hearing and bravely testified about their then-illegal abortions. The women demanded what they really wanted–the repeal of all abortion laws, meaning no restrictions.  About a month later, Redstockings held its own “hearing,” an open meeting in the Washington Square Methodist Church where twelve women testified about their experiences with illegal abortion or the fear that they could be pregnant. The disruption and the hearing that followed resulted in New York becoming the first state to legalize abortion. The NY law became the model for Roe v. Wade. It was a win, but with Roe v. Wade we got reform, instead of abortion law repeal.

Their fight is still ours today. For women, the right to birth control, including abortion, is a cornerstone of women’s freedom. Women must control if and when we have children to determine the direction of our lives and be on equal footing with men. Without an organized, strong feminist movement making radical demands and keeping up the pressure, our victories have been attacked and eroded. We need to strengthen the radical movement to turn this around!

In the Zubik case, the Supreme Court was supposed to decide whether employers could completely block their employees’ access to birth control by blocking them from the Affordable Care Act’s birth control funding. The court didn’t stand with women. Instead, it ordered the government and employers back to the lower courts to find a compromise.

In Whole Woman’s Health, the Supreme Court will decide whether to permit the state of Texas to require medically unnecessary regulations that will close nearly every abortion clinic.  The Supreme Court’s decision will have reaching effects because many states have passed laws similar to the Texas law.

We are calling for a national week of speak outs for abortion and birth control, Friday, June 3rd–Friday, June 10th. Women are the experts—we know what we need and don’t need.  We don’t need additional “safety” regulations on abortion.  We don’t need employers deciding whether we get birth control. Women need unrestricted access to free birth control and abortions. Women, speak out!

http://womensliberation.org/index.php/events/324-june-2016-call-to-action

Film “Trapped” to Be Shown at Bijou May 14

ONE SHOWING ONLY!  SATURDAY, MAY 14, 2016 @ 11 am

BIJOU THEATER

1624 NE Highway 101, Lincoln City, OR 97367

Tickets:  $6.00

Sponsored By Central Oregon Coast NOW  Foundation

At least half of American women will experience an unintended pregnancy by the age of 45.  But, American abortion clinics are in a fight for their survival as they battle the spread of state laws designed to restrict access to abortion.

Trapped follows two Southern clinics, capturing their struggle as they continue to provide care in the face of an increasingly hostile legal climate.

Trapped is a powerful new documentary that focuses on TRAP laws (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) and clinics that struggle to comply with them. The Supreme Court is scheduled to announce its decision in the case of Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt surrounding these controversial laws in June.  Its decision could have an impact on Roe v. Wade, the ruling that made abortion in America legal in 1973.

Winner of a Special Jury Award at Sundance, this ONE TIME ONLY SHOWING of Trappedfollowed by discussion, is an excellent backdrop to understanding the Supreme Court’s decision when it is announced.


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/154385195″>TRAPPED – Trailer</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user3002186″>Dawn Porter</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>

Issue Advisory – A Look Ahead: Important Upcoming Supreme Court Cases

By Hannah Brown, NOW Government Relations/Public Policy Intern October 8, 2015

The U.S. Supreme Court will consider a number of high profile cases this term – cases that cover a broad swath of American life, from access to reproductive health care, to affirmative action, public sector unions, voting rights, and (again) contraceptive insurance coverage exceptions under of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). They are nearly all products of conservative legal advocacy organizations that have been strategically selected and guided to the Supreme Court as part a larger right wing agenda to erode workers’ rights, make access to abortion care difficult, restrict citizens’ access to the courts by limiting class action law suits, reduce access to higher education for students of color, and enhance conservative Republican candidates’ electoral chances by changing the way that election districts are formed.

Because of the conservative majority on the Roberts’ Court, prospects for what NOW and our allies would find as good outcomes are dim. It could well be that burdensome limitations on abortion access will be upheld; affirmative action in university admissions will be banned; political representation of areas with large Hispanic communities will be undermined; public sector unions could be gutted; and some women’s access to affordable contraception could become more complicated. In one year. Deep breaths, and here we go.

The Future of TRAP Laws: Texas and Mississippi

Since 2011, hundreds of TRAP (Targeted Regulations of Abortion Providers) laws have been adopted in 44 states – all going beyond what is necessary to ensure patients’ safety,http://www.guttmacher.org/statecenter/spibs/spib_TRAP.pdf .These laws, part of a right-wing, anti-choice strategy to severely limit access to abortion, unfortunately, have been very effective. Some have forced women’s health clinics to close, particularly in southern states like Texas and Mississippi. Bit by bit they are chipping away at women’s access to a vital component of modern women’s healthcare.

Two types of TRAP laws — those that require abortion providers’ facilities to meet the regulations for an ambulatory surgical center and those that require the facility to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital — have become an especially popular tactic and resulted in widespread clinic closures across many states.

Two potentially upcoming Supreme Court cases (they have both petitioned for the Court to hear their cases, but cert has not yet been granted in either case) challenge such TRAP laws. Both involve a requirement that the abortion providers have admitting privileges at local hospitals, and the Texas case also involves a requirement that the facility meet building specifications for ambulatory surgical centers. The American Medical Association (AMA) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) oppose these requirements.

The first, Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole, regards Texas’ stringent anti-abortion bill, HB 2, which passed in 2013 and requires all abortion clinics to meet the standards for an ambulatory surgical center (ASC) and to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital (especially problematic as hospitals can refuse on moral or ethical, not legal, grounds). About half of the state’s 44 pre-HB 2 clinics have closed down as a result of the law; only ten would remain if those last two provisions were fully enforced. Texas is a big state — if the law were fully enacted, many women in Texas would be hundreds of miles from the nearest abortion provider. Of course, that is exactly what conservative, anti-abortion rights lawmakers want.

The second case, Currier v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, challenges one of Mississippi’s TRAP laws, an admitting privileges requirement which was aimed at shutting down the only abortion provider in the entire state.

These cases will likely hinge on Justice Anthony Kennedy’s vote (his record on abortion rights is shaky) and the Court’s possible application an element of a decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992). The justices ruled in Casey that a law which restricts abortion access is unconstitutional if it imposes an “undue burden.” Undue burden is defined as a “substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion before the fetus attains viability.”

According to ACOG, abortion is one of the safest medical procedures, with less than 0.5% of abortions involving major complications. Yet, in many states, it has been increasingly and unnecessarily regulated. Procedures that are also low-risk – like colonoscopies — have not been similarly scrutinized or restricted. Abortion rights opponents are not trying to improve the quality of women’s healthcare; this is all part of the ongoing campaign to regulate abortion into oblivion. More information is at http://www.reproductiverights.org/project/targeted-regulation-of-abortion-providers-trap

In the Wake of Hobby Lobby: More Barriers to Birth Control Access

Another case, Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged v. Burwell, may be another step in fleshing out exceptions and “accommodations” to the contraceptive coverage mandates in the Affordable Care Act. Hobby Lobby determined that for-profit corporations, if they are “closely held” by owners who have sincere religious objections to certain kinds of medical care (even if those objections are scientifically bogus), may choose to opt out of directly paying for it and instead make their objections known to HHS, which then modifies their insurance contracts so their insurers cover the objected-to items.

Little Sisters (an order of nuns), however, object even to the act of signing off on their religious objection. They argue that doing so makes them complicit in sin. It seems that the Sisters, and other organizations like them, are willing to go to what is an extreme and some would say “irrational” length to avoid the very idea of contraception. Perhaps they are not aware that the vast majority of Catholic women of child-bear age use or have used contraception.

Little Sisters along with dozens of other religious non-profits were recruited by right wing legal advocacy groups – and some say that the Catholic bishops had a heavy hand in this – bring a lawsuit against the ACA’s contraceptive coverage insurance mandate. These actions tie in with a related campaign of claiming objections based on religious beliefs to certain laws and policies under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). Read more about this atHobby Lobby Strikes Again as Christians Seek Exemptions from Birth Control and Marriage Laws,http://www.rawstory.com/2015/10/hobby-lobby-strikes-again-as-christians-seek-exemptions-from-birth-control-and-marriage-laws/

The Little Sisters case will determine whether requiring an organization to state their religious objection to a form of medical care (with the knowledge that this will allow for other arrangements for employees to obtain the care) poses a “substantial burden” on their faith. Lower courts have held that it does not. If the Supreme Court upholds the 10th Circuit Court’s decision, employers will have to sign off on their objections and, however indirectly, provide contraceptive insurance coverage for their employees.

Affirmative Action: Will It Last?

In 2003, the Supreme Court ruled in Grutter v. Bollinger that, while universities cannot use a quota system to ensure racial diversity in their student bodies, they may still consider race, among other factors, as part of a holistic admissions approach. Now that ruling may be in danger as Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin returns to the Supreme Court. While race is the focus of this and other lawsuits, it should be noted that affirmative action initiatives have also significantly benefitted women applicants to universities and professional schools.

The University of Texas adapted to Grutter primarily by adopting a “top ten” admissions policy, whereby any Texas student in the top ten percent of their graduating class may be offered admission to the University. While this policy has done wonders to increase racial diversity at UT Austin, other applicants — those from out of state or those, like Ms. Fisher, who were not in the top ten percent of their graduating class — are admitted through a more traditional, holistic admissions policy, which does take race into account.

In 2013, a lower court ruled against the plaintiff, a young woman who was denied admittance to UT Austin and filed a lawsuit against the university, citing its affirmative action admission policy as the cause for her rejection. The case was then appealed to the Supreme Court, which remanded it back to the 5th Circuit Court because it had not, in the Supreme Court’s opinion, used strict enough scrutiny when deciding the case (strict scrutiny, the highest level of judicial scrutiny, is to be used when examining any policy that distinguishes individuals based on race). The lower court again ruled in favor of UT’s admissions policy, the case was appealed again, and this term the Supreme Court will finally hear the case.

Said Judge Patrick E. Higginbotham, in the lower court’s majority opinion, “we are persuaded that to deny UT Austin its limited use of race in its search for holistic diversity would hobble the richness of the educational experience.”

As with so many other cases, the deciding vote will likely be Justice Kennedy’s. He has never voted to uphold affirmative action. Justice Kagan will again recuse herself, as she did in 2013, because she worked on the case as Solicitor General before her appointment to the Supreme Court.

Should the Court choose to overturn the 5th Circuit Court’s decision, it just may be the end of affirmative action as we know it. The case will be argued on Oct. 26. More information on this case, The Mystery of Fisher II,http://www.scotusblog.com/2015/07/the-mystery-of-fisher-ii-review/

Consumer Protection and Class-Action Lawsuits

Class-action lawsuits, at one time an effective means for ending systemic patterns of discrimination or exploitation, are under fire. The Supreme Court, in recent years, has increasingly refused to review class-action lawsuits and Republicans in Congress have attempted to pass legislation limiting conditions under which such lawsuits can proceed. This term, the Court may approve of a limitation that would stymie class-action lawsuits by further empowering corporate interests.

Campbell-Ewald v. Gomez will address a practice wherein defendants in a class-action suit may redress the grievances of a plaintiff before a class claim is certified (thus effectively ending the suit); the Court will decide whether the case then becomes moot or whether it must proceed as other injured parties were meant to be represented. Essentially the outcome of Campbell will either allow defendants in class-action lawsuits (generally corporations) to head off a suit by simply paying damages to the principal plaintiff or it will limit such activity, as it occurs at the expense of all those who would have been represented had the case gone forward. The Court will hear arguments for this case on October 14th.

In Tyson Foods, Inc. v. Bouaphakeo, the Supreme Court will revisit class-certification standards. The case will decide whether, in a class-action lawsuit, damages may be awarded based on statistics that assume all class members are identical to an average observed in a sample or whether damages must be determined on an individual basis for each and every class member; it will also determine whether a class action suit may be certified or maintained under the Fair Labor Standards Act when many members of the class suffered no injury and are not legally entitled to damages at all. Should the Court rule in favor of Tyson, the ability of individuals to collectively take action against large entities will again be curbed. The case will be argued on November 10th.

One Person, One Vote?

In a surprising turn of events, Conservatives are actually asking the Supreme Court to limit states’ rights, specifically their right to draw voting districts in whichever manner they choose. The case, Evenwel v. Abbott, will determine who exactly deserves equal protection under the law in the context of voting — eligible voters, or the people who will be represented by elected officials, regardless of voting eligibility (children, non-citizens, felons).

Conservatives are pushing for an end to raw population being used to determine districts in favor of just voting population. This would result in many districts — especially those that are urban, poor, or mostly nonwhite — to effectively lose their ability to elect a candidate that represents the broader community. Ruling in favor of the plaintiffs could ultimately favor rural areas since a higher proportion of rural residents vote and result in more Republican-leaning districts.

Though partisan politics may carry the day, as they sometimes do in the Court, legally this case will hinge on precedent (which doesn’t explicitly tackle this issue) and justices’ readings of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment (whose right to equal representation is greater: eligible voters or everyone being represented?). A date for oral argument has not been set.

The Uncertain Future of Public-Sector Unions

The future of public sector employees’ ability to benefit from union intercession on their behalf may hinge on the Supreme Court’s decision in an upcoming case, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association. When women join unions, or otherwise enjoy union protection on their behalf, they have better job security, higher wages, and more benefits. This particular case, moreover, is particularly relevant to women’s lives as women comprise the vast majority of employees in the education field.

The Center for Individual Rights is behind Friedrichs and it asks the Court to overrule a 1977 case that affirms as constitutional the collection of union fees (not dues) in the public sector from all employees, even from non-members – if a majority has chosen union representation. It is believed that wealthy right-wing political interests, like the Koch brothers, have funded this and other cases that are coming before the Supreme Court. If California Teachers Association loses, many fear that this may be the death knell for the large public sector unions. Additionally, some say that this will result in a serious erosion of progressives’ organizing and effectiveness.

Currently, when a majority of workers at a job site or in a particular occupational sector vote to form a union, that union is required by law to represent everyone in the workplace regardless of their membership status. Employees who do not belong to a union may still be required to pay “agency or fair share fees” for the cost of their representation. As all public employees enjoy the benefits that the union negotiates, all employees must contribute to the union.

The Court already decided in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education (1977) that it is constitutional for unions to collect agency “fair share” fees from employees who choose not to join the union but whom the union is required to represent. Agency fees may not be used for politics or supporting political candidates — workers may be required to contribute to the union that represents them, but they cannot be compelled to monetarily support a policy or politician. But in 2012 case, Knox v. SEIU the Supreme Court went out of its way to paint the Abood ruling as an “anomaly” (even though that precedent has followed, cited and relied upon hundreds of times) and suggested that the Abood ruling approaches (if not crosses), the limit of what the First Amendment can tolerate.”

(Note: the First Amendment claim is being used to knock down other precedents and policies, such as most recently in McCullen v. Coakley buffer zone case.)

The Court was able to take “potshots” at Abood in the case of Harris v. Quinn (brought by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation) when the Supreme Court struck down an Illinois statute (similar to ones in nine other states) that gave a million home health care providers better pay and the ability to address common workplace concerns. A particularly cruel ruling, it should be said.

Friedrichs is the case that may allow the Court to declare fair-share fees as unconstitutional, erasing 40 years of precedent. If the Court overturns Abood by ruling in favor of the plaintiffs in Friedrichs, many protections that public employees receive will vanish. The case has not yet been scheduled for argument. It is not at all clear how the case will proceed. Alito, along with most of the conservative side of the court, seems poised to rule against the unions. Scalia, usually a staunch conservative, has previously written about the problem of free-riders in a system where unions are compelled to represent nonmembers in such a way that his decision is not so easily foreseen, as it normally is. Kennedy is a swing voter; the liberal side of the court will likely vote to uphold union privileges.

Further Reading about the Supreme Court:

The Right Sees 2016 as a Chance to Take Over the Supreme Court, Reverse Marriage Equality,

http://blog.pfaw.org/content/right-sees-2016-chance-take-over-supreme-court-reverse-marriage-equality

Judgement Day: 2016, http://www.pfaw.org/media-center/publications/judgement-day-2016-future-supreme-court-critical-issue-2016-presidential-e

http://now.org/resource/issue-advisory-a-look-ahead-important-upcoming-supreme-court-cases/

Supreme Court Sides With Pregnant Workers

People wait in line outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Monday, March 23, 2015, in hopes to gain admittance for oral arguments. (AP Photo/Molly Riley) | ASSOCIATED PRESS

People wait in line outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Monday, March 23, 2015, in hopes to gain admittance for oral arguments. (AP Photo/Molly Riley) | ASSOCIATED PRESS

 

Posted: 03/25/2015 1:36 pm EDT       

WASHINGTON — In a victory for pregnant women in the workplace, the Supreme Court ruled Wednesday in favor of a worker who sued shipping giant UPS for pregnancy discrimination, sending her lawsuit back to a lower court where she had previously lost.

The case, Young v. United Parcel Service, hinged on whether or not UPS was justified in putting Peggy Young on unpaid leave after she became pregnant, even though other workers were commonly offered “light duty” for on-the-job injuries or to satisfy requirements under the American with Disabilities Act. The justices ruled 6-3 in favor of keeping Young’s lawsuit alive, with Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito joining the traditionally liberal members of the court.

Justice Stephen Breyer, writing for the majority, said the question the lower court needed to ask was “why, when the employer accommodated so many, could it not accommodate pregnant women as well?”

The decision essentially vacates a 2013 ruling by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that threw out Young’s case.

Samuel Bagenstos, a lawyer for Young, called the ruling a “big win” in a tweet shortly after the decision came out.

“The Court recognized that a ruling for UPS would thwart Congress’s intent. It adopted most of our key arguments,” Bagenstos said, in an apparent reference to the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. The 1978 law says that companies cannot treat pregnant workers any differently from other workers who are “similar in their ability or inability to work.”

The question at the heart of the case was whether the Pregnancy Discrimination Act requires companies to offer light-duty options to pregnant workers if they already do so for non-pregnant workers in other situations.

UPS had maintained that its light-duty rules were “pregnancy neutral,” treating a pregnant worker like Young the same as anyone else. Under its collective bargaining agreement with the Teamsters, UPS said it didn’t have to accommodate workers with “off-the-job injuries or conditions,” except for cognitive disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The company tried to claim a partial victory after Tuesday’s decision, saying in a statement that the Supreme Court “rejected the argument that UPS’s pregnancy-neutral policy was inherently discriminatory.” UPS said it was “confident” it would prevail in the lower courts, where Young’s case may now go to trial.

Whatever the outcome of Young’s lawsuit, the Supreme Court case has reflected poorly on UPS. Young sued the company in 2008 and lost her case without a trial. That decision was upheld by the 4th Circuit in 2013, leading Young to appeal to the Supreme Court. Last year, not long before oral arguments were set to begin, UPS announced that it was changing its accommodation policy for pregnant workers, after years of defending it in court. As of Jan. 1, 2015, pregnant UPS workers are entitled to light duty.

Young, who was interviewed by The Huffington Post in October, was delivering packages for UPS in Maryland when she became pregnant in 2006. Her doctor recommended she not lift more than 20 pounds for the first 20 weeks of her pregnancy. Although light duty was common for many workers, UPS told Young that such accommodations wouldn’t apply to an “off-the-job” condition, which is how it classified her pregnancy.

“I wanted to work,” Young told HuffPost. “I all but begged for them to let me work.”

Young received support for her lawsuit from across the ideological spectrum, with 23 anti-abortion groups lining up behind her alongside the American Civil Liberties Union and the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce. As the anti-abortion coalition noted in its brief, “economic pressure is a significant factor in many women’s decision to choose abortion over childbirth.”

My Country is on Life Support and the Prognosis Is Not Good

My Country is on Life Support and the Prognosis Is Not Good

April 3rd, 2014 By ReneeDavis Posted in UniteWomen.org

Yesterday was one of the most emotionally charged days for me that I have had in a long time. I sat here behind my laptop screen crying and enraged about the SCOTUS ruling inviting corporations and the 1% to take over more of our government and elected officials. Make no mistake about it – this has been coming and in the plans for decades. These corporations don’t care one damn about the PEOPLE of this country and SCOTUS, well over half them, they don’t give a damn either. Our entire system has been sold to the highest bidder and the PEOPLE of this country have been left to gather scraps from the floor. I have said this for a long time – the distractions of the legislative attacks on women, minorities, and the middle class has been nothing compared to the real goal of these people – to take over the government. I think we all realize that very soon corporations are also going to be granted religious freedom to discriminate against women as well.
Here is what most people don’t get – this isn’t about birth control, abortion, marriage equality, etc. This is about distracting Americans while establishing legal personhood protections for corporations. Corporations are no longer a company, a business, a non-person. They have been, and are gaining full Personhood Status in the country. I do know this though – this fall’s mid-term elections will be the final hammer hitting the nail into our coffins. IF we do not get people out to vote and educate people on the difference between a corporate government and a government of the PEOPLE for the PEOPLE it is all over – Check Mate. Short of a full on revolution with people in the streets, our government and our country will no longer serve the PEOPLE of this country the way our Founders intended.
Civilizations come and go throughout history, as well as governments. The Constitution of the United States is widely recognized as the world’s oldest working Constitution; since it took effect in 1789. It seems as if that time is slowly coming to an end as well. Our Constitution has always been a living, breathing, evolving document but at this time it is on Life Support and the prognosis is not good.
We cannot put all the blame onto the corporations and the elected officials working for their interests instead of ours. You see it is our fault as well. It is our fault for every time we were too busy to vote. It is our fault for every time we said “I don’t want to discuss politics or to ignore what is going on.” It is our fault when we decide reality television, movie star’s and musician’s lives are more important than our own. It is our fault because we sat on the sidelines for far too long thinking someone else would step up and take care of things.
Well…someone did step up to take care of things and those “someones” were the corporations and the 1%. So what are you going to do now? What are WE going to do now? We will rant and rage online, share meme’s about the assholes in office and the corporate stooges on the Supreme Court. We will circulate petitions and eventually we will bury our heads in the sand and throw our hands up in defeat. That is what we do.
Pledge to Corporations
That is what THEY expect us to do and I for one am not known for doing what is expected and I am NOT going down without a fight. I love my country and I love what my country is suppose to represent. I will NOT go down without a fight and I will NOT stand idly by while those who care nothing about her try to take her over and take her dignity away. If you care at all for this country then this is what I am asking you to do.
1. Register to Vote. Also check to see if you have not been purged from your voter rolls. With the recent changes in voting laws across the country there are many who have been dropped. FIND OUT NOW before you show up to vote and are turned away.
2. Help others to register to vote. Sign up to be trained to do voter registration or join an organization that is working to registering people to vote like UniteWomen.org ACTION, League of Women Voters or others.
3. Educate yourself on the candidates and the issues and FOLLOW THE MONEY! Do not limit yourself to a candidate based on his/her stance on ONE issue – you have to know where they stand on multiple issues and FIND OUT WHO IS FINANCING their campaigns. If they are part of the Koch Brothers, Americans For Prosperity, ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) or other corporations or corporate controlled organizations, then they are NOT the candidate to vote for. That type of candidate stands for corporations – not PEOPLE.
4. Educate others on the issues and candidates. Stop saying you won’t discuss politics at the table, parties, or the office. THESE ARE OUR LIVES and if YOU don’t start discussing these things and backing away because the discussion is hard, then you are not helping. It doesn’t have to be confrontational – learn the facts, speak the truth and do it without being confrontational. Yes it is an art to do but after doing it several times you will find your groove and be effective in talking to others. Have house parties to strategize with neighbors in your community on how to get your candidate elected and to reach the voters with the TRUTH.
5. Volunteer to work on candidate’s campaigns who represent the PEOPLE. Not the ones who say they do while voting in favor of corporations.
6. Vote Early – in states where you can vote early – DO IT! That way you have no lines to wait in and you can volunteer to help on voting day by driving voters to the polls.
7. VOTE and help others get to the polls. If you can’t vote early then make sure that you GET OUT TO VOTE on election day. No Excuses, No Justifications – JUST DO IT – VOTE! Take 3-4 people with you when you go to vote who may not have a ride. Work that day? Call in sick or be late to work. I know many will say “oh I can’t do that, I’ll lose my job.” Let me ask you this – what is going to happen to that job if you don’t vote? Do you think corporations are suddenly going to stop shipping our jobs overseas? Do you think corporations are going to suddenly say they are going to create more jobs here or give you a raise? Call in sick, go in late, do WHATEVER it takes BUT GO VOTE!
This is it people. This is our last chance to hold our country together. This mid-term election is the last chance we have to stop this pendulum from swinging to the extremism of the Corporations and the American Taliban that support them. We have to give this election everything we have. I know that some may think this is paranoia and over-reacting but I ask you this – if I’m wrong what does it matter? IF I am wrong and you do these things what will it hurt? On the other hand IF I am right then it means EVERYTHING.
Are you willing to take the risk? I’m not.
So WAKE UP, take your head out of the sand and actually DO SOMETHING to STOP this CORPORATE TAKE-OVER OF OUR COUNTRY.
IF we wish to regain our natural-born rights as American Citizens then we must FIGHT for THEM! Join us in this fight! No matter the outcome, we go down FIGHTING TOGETHER!
A New Declaration of Independence by the People, for the People, April 3, 2014
The unanimous Declaration of the United States of America Citizens from Corporation Control
When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Citizens, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security… In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince (aka Corporation), whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people… We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We, therefore, the PEOPLE of the United States of America… appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these United States, solemnly publish and declare, That these United States are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the Corporations, and that all political connection between them and the States of America, is and ought to be totally dissolved; … And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Citizenship and Freedom from Corporations, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor to live free lives without the interference and corruption of Corporations controlling ourselves and our government.
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Renee Davis is the Executive Vice President of Political Action and sits on the Board of Directors for UniteWomen.org Action. She has been with the organization from it’s inception and has served as a Co-State Director of Louisiana, a Regional Director, Outreach National Director, Executive Vice President of Programs and created our UniteWomen.org Campus Division. Renee is a dedicated and fierce activist for women’s rights and equality for all.

http://www.unitewomen.org/my-country-is-on-life-support-and-the-prognosis-is-not-good/

Same-sex couples to receive equal federal tax recognition nationwide

Posted by Justin Snow                           
August 29, 2013  2:32 PM    |  Permalink

Jack Lew.jpg

Same-sex couples married in jurisdictions that recognize their right to wed will be considered married for federal tax purposes regardless of where they currently live following a ruling announced Thursday by the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service.

According to the Treasury Department, the ruling applies to all federal tax purposes that take marriage status into account, including income and gift and estate taxes, filing status, claiming personal and dependency exemptions, taking the standard deduction, employee benefits, contributing to an IRA and claiming the earned income tax credit or child tax credit.

“Today’s ruling provides certainty and clear, coherent tax filing guidance for all legally married same-sex couples nationwide. It provides access to benefits, responsibilities and protections under federal tax law that all Americans deserve,” said Treasury Secretary Jack Lew in a statement. “This ruling also assures legally married same-sex couples that they can move freely throughout the country knowing that their federal filing status will not change.”

The ruling applies to any same-sex marriage legally entered into one of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, a U.S. territory, or a foreign country. It does not apply to registered domestic partnerships, civil unions or similar formal relationships recognized under state law. According to Evan Wolfson of Freedom to Marry, that fact in particular “highlights the need for an America where everyone can marry the person they love in any state, and have that marriage respected at all levels of government.”

With the statute of limitations for filing a refund claim set at three years from the date the return was filed and two years from the date the tax was paid, the Treasury Department says same-sex couples can still file refund claims for tax years 2010, 2011 and 2012. Moreover, some taxpayers may be able to file refund claims earlier than that depending on special circumstances, such as whether an agreement was signed with the IRS to keep the statute of limitations open. 

A release from the Treasury Department states, “employees who purchased same-sex spouse health insurance coverage from their employers on an after-tax basis may treat the amounts paid for that coverage as pre-tax and excludable from income.”

The ruling comes just over two months after the Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act defining marriage as between a man and a woman. Edie Windsor, the 83-year-old lesbian widow at the center of that case, sued the federal government to recoup about $363,000, the federal estate tax she was forced to pay on her “inheritance” following the death of her wife in 2009. Prior to today’s ruling, lawfully married same-sex couples were forced to declare themselves “unmarried” when filing their federal tax returns. 

“With today’s ruling, committed and loving gay and lesbian married couples will now be treated equally under our nation’s federal tax laws, regardless of what state they call home,” Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said in a statement. “These families finally have access to crucial tax benefits and protections previously denied to them under the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act.”  

The ruling is the latest, and perhaps broadest, implementation of the DOMA ruling by the federal government to date. Earlier today, the Department of Health and Human Services issued a memo clarifying that the beneficiaries of private Medicare plans have access to equal coverage when it comes to care in a nursing home where their legally-recognized same-sex spouse lives, no matter where they live.

“We urge all federal agencies to the greatest degree possible to join the Treasury Department and the IRS in recognizing the legal marriages of all same-sex couples,” Griffin added. “No family should have to worry about losing important federal rights and benefits, simply because they live in a state that doesn’t recognize them as equal under the law.”

[Photo: Jack Lew. Credit: U.S. Treasury Department photo.]

2013 National NOW Resolution #2: THE VOTING RIGHTS ACT (THE ALICE PAUL/FANNIE LOU HAMER RESOLUTION)

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WHEREAS, American women have historically experienced denial of their voting rights because of their sex, race and/or national origin; and

WHEREAS, the U.S. Supreme Court has many powers, but not the right to rescind the inviolable protections of any Constitutional Amendment; and

WHEREAS, the 15th Amendment guarantees citizens the right to vote regardless of race, color, or previous condition of servitude, and the 19th Amendment guarantees all American women the right to vote, which cannot be denied or abridged; and

WHEREAS, the right to vote for women and people of color will be disproportionately denied and abridged due to name changes throughout their life cycle, barriers to proving or verifying identification, decreased access to polling places due to age or disability, and increased restrictions placed upon absentee ballots, weekend and early voting;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the National Organization for Women (NOW) calls on Congress to uphold the 15th and 19th Amendments by remedying the recent Supreme Court decision, Shelby County v. Holder, which eviscerates section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that NOW work to make the media aware about the significant impact on women and people of color who are disproportionately affected; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that NOW support legislation to guarantee the right to vote as a federal right and not subject to local or state authority; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that NOW support litigation and action against gerrymandering and gendermandering that violates the principle of one person, one vote; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that NOW chapters are encouraged to work in coalition in their own states and local communities to push back against this denial of rights for women and people of color.

NOTE:  Every year at the National Conference of the National Organization for Women (NOW) Resolutions are drafted and presented to the assembly for vote.  2013 was no different.  These Resolutions are hotly debated, and rarely is the final wording of the Resolution the same as the original draft.  2013 saw the passage of ten (10) Resolutions.  These Resolutions will be presented individually on this Central Oregon Coast NOW website/blog over the next couple of weeks.   For a list of Resolutions:  https://centraloregoncoastnow.org/2013/08/25/2013-national-now-conference-resolutions/

Texas Defends Voting Laws: “We Don’t Want Democrats To Vote”

Oh, Texas.  What to do with you.

So mere hours after the Supreme Court struck down Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, Texas wasted no more time and re-instituted the same redistricting plan the courts had already ruled as unconstitutional.  The same with their new voter suppression bill.

Attorney General Holder was having none of it, however.  Texas was the first lawsuit to be filed by the Justice Department under Section 2 of the Voting Right Act.  

And now Texas is presenting its defense. It is using two main arguments.

And boy, are they doozies.

Jump below the Chee-to for more:

First, says Attorney General Greg Abbott, the redistricting is not about race.  Oh no.  It’s about not allowing DEMOCRATS to vote.  White Democrats too.

From their brief:

DOJ’s accusations of racial discrimination are baseless. In 2011, both houses of the Texas Legislature were controlled by large Republican majorities, and their redistricting decisions were designed to increase the Republican Party’s electoral prospects at the expense of the Democrats….The redistricting decisions of which DOJ complains were motivated by partisan rather than racial considerations, and the plaintiffs and DOJ have zero evidence to prove the contrary. It is perfectly constitutional for a Republican-controlled legislature to make partisan districting decisions, even if there are incidental effects on minority voters who support Democratic candidates.

Translation:

“So, basically, we just want to fuck over all Democrats, and if the Black and Brown people are also hurt, well, they shouldn’t vote for Democrats, should they?  It’s only collateral damage”

You know, having them actually come right out and say it–that they don’t want Democrats to vote–is somehow not surprising.  But it’s good that they’re doing it at last.  

But wait!  There’s more. To address the actual accusations of racial bias and discrimination, Texas is using the argument that “Yeah, there may be an isolated incident or two, but it’s NOTHING like it was in 1965”.  

From the article, which says it better than I can:

Furthermore, the state claims, even if Texas did discriminate, and the state stresses that it did not, it was nothing as bad as “the ‘pervasive,’ ‘flagrant,’ ‘widespread,’ and ‘rampant’ discrimination that originally justified preclearance in 1965.” So as long as Texas skies aren’t alight with flames from burning crosses, what’s the big whoop?

So, according to this, Texas is arguing that Section 2, and in fact the entire reasons for preclearance are all based on conditions in 1965.  And that since “things are better than in 1965” then Section 2 is null and void.

I think the fact that Texas is second only to Mississippi in Section 2 lawsuits is the basis for this particular argument.  

However, there is a danger here.  Texas is arguing that ONLY conditions that existed in 1965 would justify Federal supervision of the elections process.  Sort of like an “originalism to the extreme” argument.  

And that can be dangerous because there are those on the Supreme Court that would like nothing more than the total eradication of the Voting Rights Act.  

Not to mention the 13th 14th and 15th Amendments, but that’s another story.

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/08/13/1230932/-Texas-Defends-Voting-Laws-We-Don-t-Want-Democrats-To-Vote