Fearless Feminist Fundraiser

Pennsylvania NOW, Inc. is honoring six people, including myself on Friday, April 25 in Pittsburgh. Here’s my version of the invitation along with a link to the Eventbrite.com website for tickets. Come help celebrate with me and help out Pennsylvania NOW’s work to achieve equality in women’s lives in Pennsylvania. Thanks.


Pennsylvania NOW logo

3 Great NOW Leaders

2 Courageous State Legislators

1 Amazing Community Leader

GO! and help Pennsylvania Women

Join Pennsylvania NOW on Friday, April 25th, from 5:30-7:30PM

for our



Festivities will be held at the home of

Ron Graham & Scott Cavanaugh

6101 5th Ave.

Pittsburgh, PA 15206

Friday, April 25 from 5:30 – 7:30PM

All proceeds to benefit Pennsylvania NOW

and our programs to bring women into equal participation

in their communities and their government.

Tickets are $50.

Register through Eventbrite:


or send check payable to:

Pennsylvania NOW, Inc.

P. O. Box 4

Ft. Washington, PA 19034

Contact PennsylvaniaNOW@gmail.com to sponsor or place an ad in the program.  The deadline for inclusion in the program is April 9.

Fair Elections

vote button

Fair campaign finance reform is needed for our government. There are two bills in the US Congress that could do this at the federal level.

We need to support Fair Elections and return our government to one that’s of, by, & for the people–not bought & paid for by special interests. There are two bills in Congress that would make this happen – 1) the Government by the People Act (HR. 20) and 2) the Fair Elections Now Act (S. 2023).

The lead co-sponsors of The Government by the People Act (HR. 20) are House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.)This bill allows “everyday Americans [to take] a $25 refundable My Voice tax credit to help spur small-dollar contributions to candidates for Congressional office” and establishes “a Freedom from Influence Fund to multiply the impact of small-dollar donations ($150 or less).” There are 138 additional co-sponsors.  In addition, organizations such as Alliance for Justice, Americans for Democratic Action, Common Cause, Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and the Sierra Club have endorsed this bill. Currently, there are over 50 organizations who have signed on as supporters of this bill.  You can see the full list of Congressional co-sponsors and organizational endorsers here.

Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) has introduced The Fair Elections Now Act (S. 2023).  This bill that would allow Senate candidates to run for office by relying on small donations from people back home.  Currently, there are 15 additional Senators who are co-sponsoring this bill.  Organizations such as the Brennan Center for Justice, Credo Action, League of Conservation Voters, NAACP, and Working Families have endorsed this bill. Currently, there are 38 organizations that have signed on as supporters of this bill. You can see a full list of the Senatorial co-sponsors and organizational endorsers here.

You too can publicly support these bills.  Public Campaign and a coalition of organizations are working to return our government to one that is of, by, and for the people–not bought and paid for by special interests.  They have created a website for individuals and organizations to sign on in support of these bills.

As an individual, You can sign on the Government By the People Act / Fair Elections Now Act website as a “citizen cosponsor”  of the Government by the People Act. If you represent an organization, your organization can endorse the Government by the People Act here.

There is not a sign-up page on this website for signing on to the Fair Elections Now bill as either a citizen co-sponsor or as an organizational endorser.  I don’t know why. If you are interested in signing on in to the Fair Elections Now bill, I suggest you contact them and make this request as I believe both bills need grassroots support. They do have an email address where you can contact them via email at ofby@publicampaign.org or by sending a letter to Public Campaign, 1133 19th Street NW, 9th Floor, Washington, DC 20009.

In either case, you can also follow this campaign for fair elections on Twitter by following @ofbyus.

Let’s get this done. Return our elections to the people. Pass both the Government By the People Act and the Fair Elections Now Act.

Throwing Gun Safety Away in PA

Stop Violence Against Women NOW diamond

Stop Violence Against Women NOW

I received an email late last night from CeaseFirePA  regarding pending legislation in the Pennsylvania General Assembly.  Here’s the main part of that email regarding two bills designed to reduce gun safety within the state:

There has been a MAJOR development in our state House that is designed to seriously undermine our safety as Pennsylvanians. IT IS UP TO YOU TO ACT TODAY.

Our state House Judiciary Committee just released a surprise agenda for… March 18 and it’s a doozy. The legislators controlled by the gun lobby are trying to railroad five firearms related bills-at least two of which are extremely dangerous for Pennsylvania-through the legislature without giving the public time to weigh in on them. These dangerous Bills are:

-HB 921, which would eliminate Pennsylvania’s background check system (PICS)–a system that our state police swear by and that contains thousands of records, particularly mental health records and records of PFAs [Protection from Abuse orders]/domestic abuse, that are not included in the National Instant Check System (NICS);

-HB 2011, which would-for the first time EVER in Pennsylvania history-allow a special interest group (in this case, the gun lobby and groups like the NRA) and the interest group’s entire membership base special, automatic standing to sue towns and cities because the group does not like the ordinances that these towns have passed to increase the safety of their citizens, even when the ordinance has not been enforced against any member of that group.

—Rob Conroy, CeaseFirePA, Western PA Regional Director

Based on the Gun Safety resolution that both Pennsylvania NOW and National NOW passed, respectively, in January and February 2013, Pennsylvania NOW decided to oppose both of these bills.  [FYI for disclosure purposes, I serve on both of these organizations’ boards — as a member of the Executive Committee for Pennsylvania NOW and as a member representing the Mid-Atlantic Region on the National NOW Board of Directors]. For more information on this NOW policy, go to the end of this blog to see the text of the resolution passed on February 25, 2013 by the National NOW Board of Directors calling for Sensible Gun Safety Legislation; this policy passed following the many concerns raised by the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012.  My very first blog on this site was written the day of these shootings.)

Why Pennsylvania NOW Opposes these Bills

Pennsylvania NOW opposes HB 921 that eliminates PA’s background check for gun sales and increases the threat of gun violence to victims of domestic violence who have or want to seek out a Protection From Abuse (PFA) order.

Pennsylvania NOW also opposes HB 2011 since it allows special interest groups without legal standing to sue to overturn any local ordinance they don’t like.  This second bill could overturn not only local gun-related ordinances, but also other ordinances such as local anti-discrimination ordinances that have added marital status, familial status, family responsibilities, gender identity, and/or sexual orientation to the list of protected classes in preventing discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodations.

Status of these Bills

The members of the Pennsylvania House Judiciary Committee met at 10 am this morning.  I talked to Rep. Thomas Caltagirone’s (D-PA 127) office (he’s the Minority Chair of the House Judiciary Committee).  The woman I talked to said that his entire staff (except herself) was in the Committee meeting and she had no idea as to whether or not these bills had been voted on.  At 2 pm today, I checked the General Assembly’s website.  As of that time, nothing had been posted regarding a committee vote on these bills.

Based on the make-up of the Judiciary Committee, we suspect that both bills will be voted out if they haven’t already been.  So all members of the legislature need to be contacted to tell them to vote no on both bills when they come to the floor.

Be/Become an Activist for Gun Safety

We don’t need to throw away our gun safety laws.  We need, instead, to make sure gun safety rules are in place to protect our loved ones.

So, please take time to contact your legislator.  Here’s where to find your legislator’s contact info. Tell him/her to vote NO on HB 921 and HB 2011 to protect the lives of our loved ones from unsafe gun sales and preemption of local ordinances that improve our local communities.



WHEREAS, the National Organization for Women (NOW) “[E]nvision[s] a world where non‑violence is the established order”; and

WHEREAS, we, along with the rest of the nation, have witnessed in horror and, with deep sadness, the most recent massacre on December 14, 2012, by an individual with assault weapons, of his mother first, then innocent children and teachers at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut; and

WHEREAS, this horrific incident is the latest in a string of recent, shocking gun attacks, all of which have been perpetrated by individuals with assault weapons and which have mostly targeted women and children around the country, including at:

  • a shopping mall in Portland, Oregon in December 2012;
  • the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado in July 2012;
  • a shopping mall in Tucson, Arizona in January 2011, where Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was grievously injured, and where other casualties included the death of 9-year old Christina Taylor-Green; and
  • an Amish school in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania in October 2006 where 5 young girls were slaughtered and 5 more girls were seriously injured after the shooter released the boys and the adults; and

WHEREAS, according to the Congressional Research Services, there were more than 310 million firearms in private ownership in the United States in 2009, and another 5.2 million are manufactured annually and another 3.2 million imported annually, and according to the National Center for Health Statistics, more than 30,000 people in the US are killed each year by firearms, and the vast majority of female homicide victims in the U.S. are killed with handguns by intimate partners rather than by strangers; and

WHEREAS, we respect the rights conferred under the Second Amendment but believe that the right to bear arms does not mean that assault weapons—which are designed solely to kill people—should be sold to members of the public; and

WHEREAS, as President Obama said in Newtown, “These tragedies must end;”

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that NOW calls upon our federal- and state-level elected representatives to protect and defend our children, our communities and our nation from further gun violence by immediately implementing sensible gun safety  legislation, including:

  • Reinstituting the ban on assault weapons that was in effect prior to 2004; and
  • Banning the sale, transfer, transportation and possession of large clips of ammunition containing more than 10 bullets; and
  • Closing the “Gun Show Loophole” which allows individuals to purchase guns without a background check; and
  • Appointing a permanent position as Director of Tobacco & Fire Arms Department; and
  • Retaining the results of all Federal background checks for five years; and
  • Requiring universal background checks, including checks  for domestic violence for the purchase of any legal weapon; and
  • Creating a national gun registry that will allow law enforcement to track weapons; and
  • Requiring devices be added to weapons which would limit the use of any privately-owned gun to the registered owner; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that NOW encourages our chapters and members to:

  • Lobby their elected officials for effective legislation to end gun violence, with the NOW Action Center providing educational information to assist in such efforts; and
  • Contact entertainment providers and their sponsors to ask that they do not manufacture or sponsor video games, movies, television shows or music that glorify gratuitous violence; and
  • Lobby and/or protest professional organizations in the entertainment industry that honor exceptionally violent content; and
  • Advocate for programs and their funding in schools to teach tolerance and conflict resolution; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that NOW endorses actions advocating for solutions to end gun violence when it can be done in accordance with NOW’s Coalition Guidelines.

—Passed by the National NOW Board of Directors, February 25, 2013

Shenanigans in the PA Senate

Stop Violence Against Women NOW diamond

Stop Violence Against Women NOW

Shenanigans in the Senate. Yesterday, the Pennsylvania Senate Local Government committee added an amendment to HB1796. This bill passed unanimously out of the House of Representatives on January 14, 2014.  As it arrived in the Senate, it was designed to make it illegal for communities to evict a domestic violence victim from her home for calling 911 “too often.” The amendment that was added would outlaw local communities from passing/enforcing local paid or unpaid sick leave ordinances.

The amendment added by the  Senate Local Government Committee—shown in all caps here—basically guts this bill. On one hand, it protects victims of domestic violence from being evicted but, on the other hand, it threatens them with loss of their livelihood if they have to take off from work to protect themselves or their family members and cannot get paid or unpaid sick leave that goes beyond federal or state law.  Note, federal and state law only protect people who take sick leave who are employed by companies with 50 or more full-time equivalent employees.  Since the majority of employers have fewer than 50 employees, this amendment could threaten a victim of domestic violence in two ways:

  1. She could lose both of her livelihood and her home should she be unable to pay the rent as a result of her job loss.
  2. She might be forced into continuing the violent relationship should she want to leave if she fears losing her job and can’t take off time from work to productively deal with the violence and injuries that have been inflicted, even after having emergency service intervention.

Members of the Senate Appropriations Committee need to be contacted asap to ask them to strip the “paid/unpaid sick leave preemption” amendment out of the bill. See note below.

The members of the committee are as follows. You can get their contact info by either going to the Senate Appropriations page or by linking directly to your state Senator below.

Majority Chair of Senate Appropriations Committee

Minority Chair of Senate Appropriations Committee

Minority Members of Senate Appropriations Committee

Thanks for contacting your legislator if she/he is on the Appropriations Committee.  Tell her/him to call for the removal of the paid/unpaid sick leave amendment that was added to the bill in the Senate Local Government Committee and then send the clean bill to the Senate floor for a full vote.