STATE COLLEGE: League of Women Voters’ Candidate Forum for May 2015 Primary

This is an article about the Centre County League of Women Voters’ Spring Primary Candidates’ Forum.  It was held on Wednesday April 29.  I was one of the candidates participating in the forum.  A larger portion of this article in the Centre Daily Times covers the race for Bellefonte Borough Council.  And you will see a couple of photos of myself debating my incumbent opponent.

STATE COLLEGE: Candidate forum including shines spotlight on upcoming primary | CentreDaily.com http://www.centredaily.com/2015/04/29/4725701/candidate-forum-shines-spotlight.html

Same-Sex Marriage = Equal Rights

Marriage Equality We the PeopleThe Supreme Court is currently hearing the same-sex marriage case. This gives some background info on the first set of same-sex marriages forty years ago here in the USA. The live blog at http://live.scotusblog.com/Event/Live_blog_Obergefell_v_Hodges will help fill you in on the arguments being heard before SCOTUS.

Nel's New Day

Forty years ago, a young clerk in Boulder (CO) gave marriage licenses to six same-sex couples before the state attorney general discontinued the practice. Clela Rorex made history, and one couple, Anthony Corbett Sullivan and Richard Frank Adams, made more history when they sued the government after the U.S. government denied an application for Sullivan, an Australian, to stay in the United States although he was married to a citizen. The response on the denial read, “You have failed to establish that a bona fide marital relationship can exist between two faggots.”

The 9th Circuit Court ruled against Adams’ suit to obtain an immigrant visa for Sullivan, stating that Colorado might recognize the marriage but the federal government would not. The couple did quit: Sullivan filed a new suit, arguing that his deportation constituted an extreme hardship because ending his relationship with Adams would “cause him personal anguish and hurt.” He…

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Petition to Yellowstone Bar Association: Rescind Lifetime Achievement Award Being Given to G. Todd Baugh

Picture of a sign at the Window of Opportunity rally that says "End Rape Culture."

Sign seen at a rally in State College PA on a need to end rape culture around the country


On April 24, I posted a blog announcing that the Yellowstone Area Bar Association had announced that they will be giving G. Todd Baugh their annual “Lifetime Achievement Award” at the end of May.  I expressed outrage and said that I’d be back with another posting once “we finalize plans on how to deal with this outrageous decision to honor Baugh.”

This is our first step.  We have created a MoveOn.org petition calling upon the Yellowstone Bar Association to  immediately rescind this award.

Why is this so important?

Non-reporting by sexual assault victims is commonplace in our society. G. Todd Baugh’s victim blaming and rape myths have caused sexual assault victims to further question whether they should report their assault. We need to protect our sexual assault victims.

The Yellowstone Bar Association, as members of the legal profession, need to step up to the plate and make sure that bias in the judiciary does not stop victims from coming forward. Honoring someone who disses and blames victims creates a view that the legal system maintains a “Climate of Indifference” towards victims of sexual assault.

AND THAT’S NOT OK!

That’s why we created and I signed onto a petition to Jessica Fehr, President, Yellowstone Area Bar Association, which says:

Victim blaming and rape myths have no place in our society, especially by the judiciary. G. Todd Baugh engaged in such victim blaming and rape myths and was censured and suspended for these biased acts. We, therefore, call on the Yellowstone Area Bar Association  to rescind their Lifetime Achievement Award to G. Todd Baugh.

Will you sign this petition? Click here:

http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/yellowstone-bar-association
Thanks!

No, I Won’t Apologize for Being Angry

I hear ya!

The Feminist Pensieve

We call our warships “she.”  The earth is commonly named “Mother Earth” because of its ability to both create and destroy.  Women are routinely compared to black widows, vipers, lionesses and tigresses.  Pick any female comic book character, and you will see the innate power of the names given to these women.  They are called Black Widow, Poison Ivy, Asp, Black Mamba, Queen Bee, Cheetah, and Fatality.  All of these comparisons show the raging strength and power of women.  Why, then, are we expected to hold back in the “real world?”

There is an interesting double standard for men and women when it comes to showing rage and aggression.  When men break their cool facade in an explosion of anger, we naturally assume his feelings are valid and deserved.  We listen when a man is angry because we respect that anger.  When women become angry and project their feelings outward…

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Outrage! Baugh to receive Yellowstone Bar Association’s lifetime achievement award

Picture of a sign at the Window of Opportunity rally that says

Sign seen at a rally in State College, PA on the need to end rape culture around the country

In August 2013, G. Todd Baugh, then a sitting judge in Yellowstone County, MT, blamed the 14 year-old girl who was raped by her high school teacher for “looking older than her chronological age” when he sentenced the rapist to just 31 days in jail.  In 2014, the Montana Supreme Court overthrew that sentence and remanded the case back to a different judge in Yellowstone County who sentenced the rapist to 10 years in prison.  And at the same time, the Montana Supreme Court censured and suspended Baugh for his gender bias and failure to follow the sentencing guidelines for child rape.  For a summary of what happened in 2013 and 2014, click here.

Now we hear that the Yellowstone Area Bar Association is giving this biased and censured former judge a lifetime achievement award!?

Baugh blamed the rape victim. Now he is scheduled to receive the Bar Association’s lifetime achievement award? This is unconscionable

Read what we know so far.

This article is from the Billings Gazette (the local paper in Yellowstone County, MT): Judge Baugh to receive Yellowstone Bar Association’s lifetime achievement award.

And this article is by Ed Kemmick, the person who broke this story in a local Montana online media blog: ex-judge censured over rape comments to receive award. CBS, NBC and ABC are using this link for their info. This article also goes into a bit more detail on the award, date of the ceremony, and comments from the bar association. the Montana National Organization for Women and JusticeforCherice (the organization that was founded after Baugh blamed Cherice for the rape).

I’ll post more on this once we finalize plans on how to deal with this outrageous decision to honor Baugh.

So spread the word.  We will fight this decision — #NoHonor4Baugh.

The Sexism Is Everywhere, But Handling Hillary Clinton With Kid Gloves Isn’t Feminist; It’s Sexist

Erin Matson

No woman in the public eye symbolizes the tremendous change in opportunities for women more than Hillary Clinton. It is not in spite of this, but because of this, that she inspires passion and deep ambivalence. People love her, or people hate her. The media reports on and questions her style as if the entire credibility of constitutional democracy might rest on her cleavage, her hair, her pantsuits, her scrunchies, and now, her logo.

On substance, feminists are frequently told to judge her by the sexual mores of the man she married. Someone has yet to credibly explain how judging a woman by the actions of her partner, rather than her own actions, is feminist.

In the 2008 elections, the Democratic Party failed to treat Hillary with the respect she deserved. She was surrounded with calls to get out of the race while she was still ahead in the primary.

As one of my mentors…

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Cyberstalking and Online Threats

For the last month or so, I’ve been blogging about cyber bullying and harassment.  These blogs have focused on the posting of nude pictures of women without their consent by Penn State University’s Kappa Delta Rho fraternity, legislative proposals to deal with rape culture in cyberspace,and an announcement about a Congressional Hearing on cyber stalking.

These blogs are based on my work with a coalition of people concerned about online threats targeting mostly women and girls.  The participants in this coalition include members, professionals, and leaders at The National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the National Organization for Women, and the National Council of Women’s Organizations.

Last week, the Congressional briefing I posted about was seen by about 2,300 people via a live Twitter feed. This briefing was held by in coordination with The Victims’ Rights Caucus (Representatives Judge Poe (R-TX) and Jim Costa (D-CA), co-chairs) and Representative Katherine Clark (D-MA). Panelists included

  • Michelle Garcia, Director of the Stalking Resource Center;
  • Zoe Quinn, Video Game Developer and Co-founder of Crash Override;
  • John Wilkinson, Attorney Advisor at AEquitas: The Prosecutors’ Resource on Violence Against Women; and
  • Danielle Keats Citron, Professor at the University of Maryland School of Law and author of Hate Crimes in Cyberspace

This coalition of women’s organizations created and has now distributed a one-page flyer highlighting the problem of cyber stalking and online threats that mostly target women.  Here’s a photograph of that flyer.

photograph of the Fact Sheet on Cyberstalking and Online Threats

Fact Sheet on Cyberstalking and Online Threats

If you’d like a pdf version of this flyer, you can download it with this link: Cyberstalking-and-Online-Threats

Tell PA You Oppose Stripping Philadelphia’s Paid Sick Day Ordinance

If you live or vote Pennsylvania, tell your State Senator to oppose this sick leave preemption bill.

Women's Law Project Blog

We need your help.

In February, Philadelphia passed earned sick day legislation.

The ordinance was a long time coming and had been well-vetted with data. National Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that low-income workers, who are disproportionately women and minorities, have less access to paid sick leave than other workers. Women are disproportionately the primary caregivers in modern families and increasingly, the primary breadwinners, too. In a recent survey, 47 percent of women who stayed home to care for a sick child reported losing pay, a particularly difficult burden in tough economic times.

Nonetheless, Mayor Nutter convened a task force to further study the issue. The task force concluded that an earned paid sick day ordinance was a positive development for both Philadelphia workers and public health, with no significant economic drawbacks.

Almost immediately, conservative lawmakers in the Pennsylvania Legislature drafted a pre-emption bill that would prohibit other jurisdictions from…

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Equal Pay Day 2015: Same Old Same Old – Unfortunately

For the last three years, my local NOW chapter—Ni-Ta-Nee NOW—has organized community education events surrounding Equal Pay Day and paycheck fairness.  We have focused on this issue because of the continuing inequity in women’s wages as compared to the male coworkers.

A frequent question we have is, “What’s Equal Pay Day and why should I care?”  To help answer that question, we have done op-eds and interviews with the local press in the past (See here and here).  We also create a flyer that we update each year.  As President of Pennsylvania NOW, I wrote another blog on this issue in 2011. And last year, I commented on Equal Pay Day 2014  as well as the need for fairness in pay.

Like last year, my local NOW chapter will once again be distributing Equal Pay Day flyers in front of the gates of The Pennsylvania State University during the afternoon.

Why today? Because Equal Pay Day moves from year to year. For 2015, that day is today, April 14.

The following is a web-based version of this flyer updated from 2014 to reflect today’s stats and information. The hard-copy version focuses on Pennsylvania. I have kept that information here and added additional commentary and links for information and contacts in other states.

TUESDAY APRIL 14, 2015 is EQUAL PAY DAY

IT’S THE DAY ON WHICH WOMEN’S WAGES CATCH UP WITH MEN’S WAGES FROM THE PREVIOUS YEAR.

The wage gap is the ratio of women’s to men’s median annual earnings for full-time, full-year workers. Based on these earnings, women across the US earned just 83% of what men earned (IWPR, 2015).

Equal Pay Day symbolizes how far into the year a woman must work, on average, to earn as much as a man earned the previous year. Tuesday, April 14, 2015 is the day on which women’s wages catch up with men’s wages from the previous year. FYI, this is 6 days more than 2014, 5 days more than in 2013 and 1 day more than in 2011 when Ni-Ta-Nee NOW started tracking this date!

At the current rate of progress, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research estimates that it will be 2058 before women’s wages reach parity and Equal Pay Day will finally be on December 31 rather than somewhere in April of the following year!

THE WAGE GAP

Graphic of Women's wage inequity broken down by race and ethnicity

Equal Pay Day: How Women Fare

Nationally, Asian American women have the smallest wage gap, earning 94 percent of what the average white man earned in 2012. White women are next, earning approximately 82 percent of white men’s average income, African-American women (68 percent), and Hispanic women (61 percent) have the largest wage gaps as compared to white men (IWPR, 2015). A typical woman earns $431,000 less in pay over 40 years due to this wage gap. (Center for American Progress, 2012).

THE WAGE GAP IN PENNSYLVANIA

The wage gap is even worse in Pennsylvania. When ranked among the other 50 states plus the District of Columbia, Pennsylvania’s wage gap placed it 40th among the states (AAUW, 2015).

The median annual income for a woman working full-time, year round in Pennsylvania in 2014 was $38,368 compared to men’s $50,231 or 76% of what a man earns. This is a wage gap of 22 % (AAUW, 2015).

Centre County is part of Pennsylvania’s 5th Congressional District (CD). Women in the 5th CD earn    $31,615 compared to the $42,782 that men earn or 74% of what a man earns. We rank 15 out of 18 in the state in terms of the wage gap. This is a wage gap of 26%. Philadelphia’s 1st CD fares better than the rest of the state with a gap of just 1% (AAUW, 2015).

A typical woman in PA earns $459,000 less in pay over 40 years due to this wage gap. This gap rises to $722,000 for women who have earned college degrees (Center for American Progress, 2010).

WHAT CAN I DO??

If You are an Employer

If you are an employer, you can get help in examining pay practices by conducting an equal pay self-audit using the guidelines from the US Department of Labor (available at www.pay-equity.org/cando-audit.html).

If You Believe You Are Experiencing Wage-Based Discrimination

Tell your employer if you are being paid less than your male co-workers. Click here for some tips on negotiating for pay equity.

If there’s a union at your place of work, ask for their help.

If discrimination persists: There are three places to file complaints – at the federal level, at the state level, and at the local level.

At the Federal Level

You can file under federal law with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Go to this link and follow the instructions.

At the State Level

You can find your state’s anti-discrimination agency website and contact information in a pdf file created by Legal Momentum starting on page 28. Most of the agencies have a website address that you can copy and paste into your browser. All of the agencies have a phone number that you can call for assistance.

If you live in Pennsylvania, you can file a complaint with the PA Human Relations Commission in Harrisburg. Contact information is available by region.  Just go to their website and look for your county’s name.  The phone number and address for your regional office is listed directly above the names of the counties served by each office.

You should also check to see if your local county, city, or community has an ordinance providing similar protections for wage-based discrimination. You can also file under federal law with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

At the Local Level

There are a few communities throughout the country that have created local ordinances that include the state-based anti-discrimination protections and have also expanded coverage to other areas (such as protections based on sexual orientation, family status, and/or family responsibilities across the life-span). If so, you can more conveniently file a wage-based complaint at the local level. Check with your state’s anti-discrimination agency to see if there is a local ordinance in your community.

In Pennsylvania, there are about 30 communities with such an ordinance. Your regional office of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission can give you this information, along with whom to contact. Check with your state’s anti-discrimination office if you live in another state to determine if your state allows such local ordinances and if such an ordinance exists in your community.

As I just stated, there are about 30 communities in Pennsylvania that have such a local ordinance. One of the most progressive and expansive ordinances is in State College, PA, home of the main campus of The Pennsylvania State University. Their ordinance covers wage-based discrimination based on sex as well as color (race), religion, ancestry, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, familial status, marital status, age, mental or physical disability, use of guide or support animals and/or mechanical aids. Four of these categories – sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, familial status and family responsibilities across the lifespan, and marital status—are not covered under state law. State College is the only locality in Pennsylvania (and one of only a handful nationwide) that protects you in employment if you have family responsibilities for adult members of your family whether or not they live in the home with you. If you work within the State College, PA borough, you can file a complaint with the State College Borough under their Employment Anti-Discrimination Ordinance at 814.234.7110814.234.7110 (Side note: I was one of the people instrumental in crafting this ordinance).

If You Want to Support and Advocate for Pay Equity

Both the federal and many state legislatures are attempting to address the issue of pay equity.

The following summarizes the current status of the bills currently moving through Congress and the Pennsylvania General Assembly.

The Federal Paycheck Fairness Act

Ask your Congressional representatives to co-sponsor the Paycheck Fairness Act – HR 1619 in the US House of Representatives and both S 83—the Republican version entitled “End Pay Discrimination Through Information Act”— and S 862 —the”Paycheck Fairness Act”  identical to the House version—in the US Senate). These bills update and strengthen the Equal Pay Act of 1963. It gives women the tools they need to challenge the wage gap itself. HR 1619 was introduced by Rep. DeLaura (D-CT-3) on March 25, 2015 and currently has 190 sponsors; S 83 was introduced by Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) on January 7, 2015 and has five sponsors; and S 862 was introduced on March 25, 2015 by Sen. Barbara Mikulski  (D-MD) and currently has 25 sponsors.

Minimum Wage

Another method of reducing pay inequity is to raise the minimum wage since women are more likely to work in jobs paying either the minimum wage or work for tipped wages. If you are among the 75% of Americans who believe the minimum wage should be raised to at least $12.50/hour, you should take action.  So…

Tell your state & federal legislators to raise the minimum wage & the tipped minimum wage.   The minimum wage bill at the federal level is called “The Original Living Wage Act of 2015 (HR 122). It was introduced by Rep. Al Green (D-TX-9) on January 6, 2015 and currently has 19 sponsors.

Since states and local communities can set minimum wages higher than that required by the federal government, you might also advocate for higher minimum wages for all workers in your state  and/or community.

At the state level, California (SB 3), Colorado (House Concurrent Resolution 1001 and House Bill 1300), Connecticut (S.B. 858), Delaware, Illinois, Maine (L.D. 843), Massachusetts (SD 852/HD 2835), New York, Oregon (H.B. 2009), Pennsylvania, Rhode Island (H.B. 5074), and Washington state (H.B. 1355) either have bills introduced (links to these bills are shown here) or there have been campaigns initiated in the state to advocate for raising the minimum wage to either phase out the lower tipped minimum wage and/or to raise the overall minimum wage to at least $10.00/hour. Some of these bills and/or advocates urge raising the minimum wage up to $15.50/hour in high cost cities within their state. Links to all of these campaigns can be found at http://www.raisetheminimumwage.com/pages/campaigns/.

At the local level,  the first community to raise the minimum wage to $15.00/hour (more than double the current federal minimum wage which hasn’t risen in over a decade) was SeaTac, Washington; this new wage went into effect on January 1, 2014. After nine months of this higher minimum wage, the Washington Post reported that those that had originally opposed this increase admit that “there has been no calamity so far.” Since then, both Seattle and San Fransisco increased wages in 2014 in their cities to $15.00/hour; Washington, DC is considering doing the same thing.

For more information on the raising concerns about the minimum wage and what you can do, go to RaiseTheMinimumWage.com.

Finally…For More Information

Visit http://www.pay-equity.org – the website created by the National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE). NCPE is a coalition of women’s and civil rights organizations; labor unions; religious, professional, legal, and educational associations, commissions on women, state and local pay equity coalitions and individuals.” They are dedicated to ending wage-based discrimination and achieving pay equity.

Congressional Briefing on Cyber Stalking Announcement

picture of a sign that says "Stop Hate Crime"

Stop Cyber Bullying and Stalking

The National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence,

The National Organization for Women

and

The National Council of Women’s Organizations

Invite you to a Special Briefing

 Cyberstalking and Online Threats

 Wednesday, April 15, 2015

10:00 a.m.

2237 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC

 In coordination with The Victims’ Rights Caucus (Representatives Judge Poe (R-TX) and Jim Costa (D-CA), co-chairs) and Representative Katherine Clark (D-Mass)

Presenters Include:

Michelle Garcia, Director of the Stalking Resource Center

Zoe Quinn, Video Game Developer and Co-founder of Crash Override

John Wilkinson, Attorney Adviser at AEquitas: The Prosecutors’ Resource on Violence Against Women

Danielle Keats Citron, Lois K. Macht Research Professor and Professor of Law at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law and author of Hate Crimes in Cyberspace

For information and to RSVP:  Rachel Graber at rgraber@ncadv.org, (202)467-8714

 * Interested advocates who can’t attend the meeting can watch a live stream via twitter.  On Wednesday morning at 10 a.m., tune into the National Center for Victim’s of Crime’s twitter site @CrimeVictimsOrg. Go to the link in the post that says #Periscope and click on the random letters and the video should appear.

For folks who do not use Twitter, go to www.twitter.com and follow the instructions on the website to create an account. Once you have logged in, type @CrimeVictimsOrg into the search box in the upper right corner to find NCVC’s page. Each Tweet is similar to a Facebook post, but the number of characters are limited. Click on the link in the post that says #Periscope to view the video. Do NOT click directly on #Periscope; the link you want to click on is the string of random characters following the word.

 

Thanks to Pat Reuss, who works for both the National Task Force and NOW for forwarding this information regarding the briefing and for her work with members of NOW, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the National Council of Women’s Organizations, and the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence that are helping to spread the word about cyber stalking and bullying of women and who are advocating for improved legislation and law enforcement to end this form of abuse against women and girls.