The following e-newsletter is a joint communication from the Maine Women’s Policy Center and our sister organization, the Maine Women’s Lobby.
“Take care of each other. Love each other… An injustice towards one is an injustice towards all… We need to walk through this world constantly seeking justice.” –Bre’ Campbell of the Trans Sistas of Color Project at the We Won’t Wait Summit
We heard Bre’ say these words earlier this month and thought they were the perfect reminder for us all during these hectic fall days.
It’s been a busy month for Victoria Rodriguez, our new Community Organizer & Program Assistant. She’s been talking with women around the state about the importance of voting, helping them register to vote, and asking them to make a pledge to vote this year.
If you’re already planning to vote, sign our pledge to commit to ensuring voter turnout reaches record highs this year—and to urge candidates to embrace a comprehensive economic agenda that spells real change for women and our families. Go to bit.ly/Pledge2Vote16 to sign the pledge today! And learn more about how to vote in Maine and what’s at stake this year at bit.ly/mwlRoadmap16.
And if you want to make sure nothing keeps you from voting this year, consider voting by absentee ballot. You can request your absentee ballot at http://www.maine.gov/cgi-
WE’RE VOTING YES ON 3 AND 4!
In addition to the important races for President, Congress, the Legislature, and local offices, Mainers will be deciding the fate of five proposed laws that will appear as ballot questions this year. The Maine Women’s Lobby has endorsed two of these questions. We’ve just endorsed Question 3: An Act To Require Background Checks for Gun Sales. Eliza Townsend, our Executive Director, explained why this issue is important for Maine women:
“Since its founding, the Maine Women’s Lobby has focused on public policy issues that help women live safe and secure lives, free from violence. We know that requiring background checks for all gun sales is the most effective way to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers. WhileMaine is a safe state, violence against women is a persistent and deadly problem. Blocking domestic abusers from getting guns will help protectwomen.”
You’ve heard before why we are supporting Question 4: An Act to Raise the Minimum Wage. Increasing the minimum wage, gradually eliminating the subminimum wage for tipped workers, and linking future increases to the cost of living are critical to improving the economic security of women—who make up more than 60% of minimum wage earners and over 70% of workers who earn tips. Eliza Townsend, our Executive Director recently wrote an op-ed about the importance of voting #Yeson4: No woman who works full time deserves to live in poverty. Raising minimum wage can help.
WE WON’T WAIT
On September 19th and 20th, Kathy Kilrain del Rio, our Director of Program & Development, and Melissa Dunn, an activist from Lewiston, traveled to the We Won’t Wait Summit in Maryland. More than 1,500 women gathered to talk about the issues that are important to their families and communities.
These words from Audre Lorde were repeated throughout the Summit: “There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle, because we do not live single-issue lives.” That is what the women and organizations that participated want to stress during this contentious election year. We can’t fight for just one issue—we need to fight for all the issues that matter in women’s lives.
The importance of lifting up the experiences of women of color and transgenderwomen was also a focus of the event. This was exemplified with a vigil held at Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C. Participants were inspired by powerful words from Lucia McBath – the mother of Jordan Davis, Shante Needham – sister of Sandra Bland, Samaria Rice – mother of Tamir Rice, Alicia Garza of #BlackLivesMatter, and Monique Harris of Hand in Hand, among others. Read more about the vigil at Mothers of the Movement Commemorate Those Lost to ‘Violence and Indifference’.
Another highlight was women sharing stories about the need to earn paid sick days, paid leave, and higher wages as well as the need for access to abortion, comprehensive health care, child care, and racial justice. If you would like to share your story about any of these issues, contact Victoria at 207-622-0851 x5 or email@example.com.
OUR RIGHTS AT RISK
This week at the Bangor Public Library, the Maine Women’s Policy Center joined with Grandmothers for Reproductive Rights (GRR!) and Mabel Wadsworth Women’s Health Center to talk about the ways our rights depend on the future of the US Supreme Court and the entire federal courts system. Whatever issues you are concerned about—access to abortion, access to health care, voting rights, criminal justice, worker protections and rights, racial justice, or discrimination—the federal courts make decisions that affect all our lives.
Unfortunately, because Republican leaders in the US Senate refuse to let the Senate do its job, vacancies in the courts are a huge problem. As of today, there is already one vacancy on the Supreme Court and 91 additional vacancies throughout the federal courts. Judge Merrick Garland, Pres. Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court, has waited longer than any nominee in more than 100 years for a hearing on his qualifications. Now that the Senate has adjourned until after the election, his—and our—wait will continue.
As Eliza Townsend noted during the talk: “Today’s vacancies are not the full picture. The average age of retirement from the Supreme Court has been 79. Justice Ginsburg is 83, Justice Kennedy is 80, Justice Breyer is 78. If Merrick Garland is not confirmed by January 20, 2017, the next president could nominate as many as 4 Supreme Court justices.”
That’s why it’s essential to think about the federal courts when we’re thinking about our vote this election—both in terms of who the candidates for President will nominate, and in states with US Senate races, whether the candidates will actually do their jobs as laid out in the Constitution.
To learn more about these issues, check out https://scotustippingpoint.
ACCESS TO QUALITY, AFFORDABLE CHILDCARE
A new national study has found that childcare continues to be out of reach or a large financial drain for most families: “Full-time care in a center for children age 4 or younger costs more than average in-state college tuition, while an in-home caregiver costs 53 percent of U.S. median household income”. We know that won’t come as a surprise to many Mainers because we often hear from women around the state about the challenges they face in finding childcare for their families.
If you have young children, we’d like to hear about your experiences, too. You can use this online form: https://www.surveymonkey.com/
Read more about the study at Finding Good, Affordable Childcare Tough in Any U.S. State.
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Thank you for your support!