The anniversary of the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution giving all women the right to vote is August 26. According to Charlotte Klasson, President of the Louisiana Chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW), “This is the only constitutionally guaranteed right women have.” Originally called Women’s Suffrage Day, the date has been designated by Congress as Women’s Equality Day.
“This is a misnomer,” says Klasson. “As long as women have to fight year after year for equal pay legislation to guarantee the right to redress for inequities in salaries between men and women, equality for women is not a reality. Women in Louisiana make sixty-nine cents for every dollar a man makes doing the same work. This is not equality.”
Klasson said that federal pay equity legislation has been re-introduced in Congress several times. “But as long as the current Congressional climate is resting on a cloud of political posturing instead of representing the needs of constituents, we are not going to see equality for women on the federal level.” The Louisiana Legislature adopted pay equity legislation in the 2013 Session, but, according to Klasson, the legislature restricted the coverage of protections to only state employees even though the original bill was drafted to include all employees. “It is significant,” she said, “that there was resistance to extending the law’s application to all employees in Louisiana.”
“Louisiana NOW celebrates the anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment and the Constitutional right of women to vote, but,” Klasson says, “full constitutional equality for women is still elusive and the mere designation of a day as Women’s Equality Day does not bestow equality to women.”
Klasson added that an additional piece of legislation, which NOW will be monitoring carefully, passed in the form of House Concurrent Resolution No. 145, which established a Fair Pay Task Force. The Task Force is charged with studying the extent of wage disparities between men and women in the workforce, developing policy recommendations and legislation likely to lead to the prevention and elimination of wage disparities between the sexes, and submitting a final report on its findings by March 1, 2014.
Friday, August 23, 2013
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
NOW Activists Buoyed by SCOTUS Decisions on Equal Marriage
Statement of NOW President Terry O'Neill
June 26, 2013
The National Organization for Women is elated for the many same-sex couples whose loving, committed relationships will now be recognized in law a result of today's Supreme Court rulings on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California's Proposition 8. While we still have not achieved a full constitutional right for same-sex marriage, we are buoyed by the court's decisions to strike down the discriminatory DOMA and to allow the federal trial court's overruling of Proposition 8 to stand. A longtime supporter of marriage equality, NOW has opposed DOMA and Proposition 8 from the start and has sought to advance the rights of those treated as second-class in our society.
Today's DOMA decision represents an enormous victory and a joyous day for married same-sex couples and their families -- and for the promise of equal justice under the law. Put simply, the court will impose a "careful consideration" standard of review on laws that treat couples differently based on sexual orientation. For thousands of same-sex couples, today's ruling means that they can better protect one another and their children by ensuring equitable access to the federal safety net.
In advocating to overturn Proposition 8, NOW has staunchly maintained that state constitutions are meant to defend the rights of minorities, even (or especially) when the majority threatens to eradicate them. Discriminatory legislation such as Proposition 8 has no place in a nation dedicated to equal rights for all people. With Proposition 8 now a thing of the past and same-sex marriage soon to be fully recognized in California, equal marriage rights cover over 30% of the country's population. Obviously, our struggle is far from over.
With these decisions adding to the momentum for marriage, NOW and our allies will continue working to win the freedom to marry throughout the United States.
Friday, March 8, 2013
Statement of NOW President Terry O'NeillMarch 8, 2013
On International Women's Day, the National Organization for Women calls upon leaders in the United States to firmly reject the austerity model that has been economically devastating to our sisters in Europe. Call it what you like -- austerity, sequester, deficit reduction, balancing the budget. I call it a stealth attack on women.
The headlines tell the story of what's happening abroad: "Women are paying the price for economic austerity." "Greek crisis hits women especially hard." "Women bearing the brunt of austerity in Britain."
In both the U.S. and many European countries, women make up the majority of employees in the public sector, and women also rely disproportionately on social service programs. Cuts to government spending invariably target these areas for a number of shameful reasons. First and foremost, women, people of color, people with disabilities and all of those struggling to get by are underrepresented in the halls of power and therefore easy scapegoats. Second, the proponents of such cuts are often beholden to big business, the wealthy and the military industrial complex, so those money-hoarders are off the hook. And third, shredding the safety net is already at the top of these guys' agenda, so they're only too happy to use government debt as an excuse to slash even deeper.
In the coming days and weeks, NOW and women across this country will speak out loudly against this latest assault on our livelihood. The U.S. must not make the same mistake as Europe. Now is not the time to cut spending. Now is the time to invest in the people of this country by putting women and men back to work with livable wages, good benefits and equal pay for work of equal value. Balancing the budget on the backs of those who can least afford it is not only counter-productive, it's immoral.
Monday, March 4, 2013
New Orleans NOW president blasts Scalise for no vote on Violence Against Women Act
WASHINGTON - The president of the Greater New Orleans National Organization for Women is taking Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson, to task for voting against a bill reauthorizing and expanding the 1994 Violence Against Women Act. The bill passed 286-138 last week, with 87 Republicans joining 199 Democrats in voting yes."Shame on him, is all we can say," said Charlotte Klasson, the NOW New Orleans president. "We are just relieved that women have the protections they need without his support."
Scalise, in a statement, said that, as a father and a husband, he was happy to vote for a GOP version of the bill, which didn't include some of the modifications incorporated into the Senate bill that won House approval last week despite his opposition.
He said the Senate version "promoted an extreme liberal social agenda and, like the Family Research Council (FRC) pointed out, was more focused on weakening laws and denying grants to some of the organizations that are best equipped to fight human trafficking simply because of their religious affiliations."
The conservative FRC, in a letter to House members, warned that the Senate bill could block groups like the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops from receiving federal grants to combat violence against woman because of their religious objections to abortion. It also complained about a U-visa provision that protects victims of some violent crimes from deportation by granting them legal status and work authorization.
The bill, the research council said, "uses the Violence Against Women Act as a vehicle to advance the expansion of tribal jurisdiction, immigration visas and unnecessary anti-discrimination laws."
The Senate bill provides services to the victims of domestic and dating violence, adding protection no matter their sexual orientation or gender. It also allows Native American tribes to prosecute non-Indian defendants for crimes related to domestic violence.
The bill also authorizes programs to prevent human trafficking, sexual assault on college campuses, and for dealing with shortages of rape kits used for victims of sexual assault.
Scalise and two other Louisiana Republicans who voted against the bill voted for a GOP alternative, which removed language related to gender identity and sexual identification and giving the national American tribes the authority to try non-Indian defendants.
That measure failed 257-166, with 60 Republicans voting no.
Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans, said the GOP-led House, which failed to pass the Senate bill in the last Congress, did the right thing by enacting it now.
"This is a major accomplishment in the fight to protect and provide assistance to the victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and dating violence," Richmond said. "We have an obligation to ensure the protection of women in Louisiana and across the nation from senseless acts of violence."
Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Wisc., a victim of domestic and sexual violence, said that all victims, regardless of race or sexual orientation, deserve protection. She said the rights of gay victims aren't protected in the GOP alternative.
"As I think about the L.G.BT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) victims who are not here, the native women who are not here, the immigrants who aren't in this bill, I would say, as Sojourner Truth would say, 'Ain't they women? Ain't they women?"
Klasson of the New Orleans NOW Chapter praised Richmond and other supporters of the bill, but said that Scalise, instead of "listening to the Family Research Council in Washington, " should have consulted women in his own district who would tell him the Senate bill he opposed provides important protections.
President Barack Obama has promised to sign the bill into law.
"Over more than two decades, this law has saved countless lives and transformed the way we treat victims of abuse," the president said. "Today's vote will go even further by continuing to reduce domestic violence, improving how we treat victims of rape, and extending protections to Native American women and members of the LGBT community."