August 13, 2021
The Equal Rights Amendment deadline removal bill, H.J. Res. 17, passed the House on March 17 (222-204) and has been placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar. It could be voted on at any time. However, there is the problem with the filibuster and steadfast Republican opposition. While it is likely that all 50 Democrats would vote for the legislation, plus the two Republicans that have signed on (Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Maine Sen. Susan Collins), we would still need eight more Republicans to overcome a threatened filibuster.
Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin (D), who is the lead sponsor of S. J. Res. 1, identical to the House version, has advised grassroots activists that if they recruit any co-sponsors, they must match a Democrat with a Republican co-sponsor. Currently, there are only four co-sponsors, in addition to Murkowski and Collins, Maine Independent Sen. Angus King, and Pennsylvania Democrat Sen. Bob Casey. Without the 60 votes necessary, the ERA deadline removal legislation will languish and perhaps die at the end of the 117th Congress – as happened in the 116th Congress. Should a miracle occur and the filibuster disappears, the bill could be passed very quickly with all Democrats and the two Republicans voting.
On the more hopeful news front, a letter signed by member organizations of the ERA Coalition, Including NOW, asks Attorney General Merrick Garland to withdraw a memorandum that was issued by the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), Department of Justice during the Trump administration. The memorandum concluded that the deadline had expired and that the Equal Rights Amendment was no longer pending before the states. Withdrawal of that memorandum could help pave the way for the eventual enshrinement of the ERA in the U.S. Constitution. The letter to Attorney General Garland is attached here, and National NOW is already a signer.
Thanks to Jan Erickson, Director of Government Relations, National NOW.
May 7, 2021
The intersectionality of the issue of reproductive rights will headline Maryland NOW’s Annual Conference set for Saturday, May 15th.
In examining the topic and how it affects so many women and men, a priority for the conference planners – Maryland NOW’s Young Feminist Task Force — was how to help diverse groups understand differing experiences about reproductive rights. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to be able to hear people’s stories firsthand.
We are pleased to announce our keynote speaker at the conference to set the stage for these conversations will be Kolieka Seigle, President/Executive Director of California NOW. Kolieka has organized chapters of young women in her state and has been a leader in our organization on the issue of ending racism. She has been a leader in bringing other NOW leaders together to share knowledge, insight, and experiences.
The conference agenda will feature two workshop sessions with two workshops in each session. We will cover topics such as “I don’t necessarily want this outcome, but…,” the Intersectionality of Age and Abortion, Plan B, and the Access of Women of Color to Reproductive Rights. Each workshop will begin with a short interview of the workshop moderator by a member of the Young Feminist Task Force.
March 9, 2021
We were very sad to learn of the death of Linda Mahoney, a past President and Treasurer of Maryland NOW. Linda died suddenly on Monday, March 8th, 2021.
Linda joined Maryland NOW and her local chapter, Montgomery County NOW, in 2007. She became our state president in 2010. serving three terms. and was Maryland NOW’s state treasurer from 2018-2020. She worked on numerous projects with our organization, one of her passions being women’s history.
Maryland BPW also benefitted from having her as a member, and she was honored in 2017 as their Woman of Achievement. She was a staunch supporter of the Maryland Women’s Heritage Center. Linda served on the board of the Maryland Legislative Agenda for Women. She had been a member of the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee. She supported many other organizations that championed women’s rights. She held a law degree from American University.
Linda’s family is from Arizona, Oregon, Mississippi and Quebec, Canada. Her wife and partner of 24 years, Edith Miller, died in 2018. As more information becomes available we will add it to this story.
January 20, 2021
You’d never know from watching the events of Wednesday, January 20th’s Inauguration that only two weeks prior, a mob attempting to locate and physically harm Vice President Mike Pence and numerous other members of the U.S. Congress — at the direction of then-President Donald Trump — attacked our U.S. Capitol building. Or that five people would lose their lives in the process. Or that within six hours of Trump’s mob’s insurrection, hundreds of Republicans would still refuse to vote to accept the results of the 2020 Election.
At the Inaugural everyone said all the right things and few commentators even mentioned the fact that 25,000 National Guard troops and miles of razor wire were protecting this “peaceful” transfer of power.
The bottom line – short and sweet – is that “eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” That means no one gets very much time off from the tension and trauma of the past 4 months or 4 years. We have a Supreme Court that is actually in step with the 1920s, paper-thin margins for our issues in the House and Senate, and a mountain of work to do. And the 2022 election cycle is taking shape – both across the country and here in Maryland.
Maryland NOW plans to be a part of it all and we hope you’ll be an active part of Maryland NOW, If you’re not a member please sign up to subscribe to our mailing list (click on “subscribe” on our homepage), and if you are a member please make sure we have your email address. Get in touch with a chapter near where you live (there’s a link to a list of our chapters on the homepage). If you’d like to work with the state on a committee or project, please let us know.
August 17, 2021
The humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan is beyond heartbreaking. Many groups – both internationally and in the U.S. – have been working over the past 20 years to try to help the women of Afghanistan find their voices and better the lives of their sisters. Now it appears that not only is all their work in jeopardy but the lives of many women are in danger because they are now targets of their new government – the Taliban.
An important organization well-known to NOW’s Global Feminist Committee is Women for Afghan Women (WAW). Women for Afghan Women (WAW) is a grassroots civil society organization dedicated to protecting and promoting the rights of disenfranchised Afghan women and girls in Afghanistan and New York. In particular, WAW works to help Afghan women and girls exercise their rights to pursue their individual potential to self-determination, and to representation in all areas of life—political, social, cultural, and economic. WAW relentlessly advocates for women’s rights and challenges the norms that underpin gender-based violence to influence attitudes and bring about change.
Their website – https://womenforafghanwomen.org/ – has more information about their work and ways to donate money. Please contribute any amount you can.
NOW’s Global Feminist Committee is co-chaired by Jan Stroud, who is also the President of Montana NOW, and Kolieka Seigle, President of California NOW. The above information came to us from them.
Note: the photo on our front page is from the Women for Afghan Women’s website.
August 13, 2021
8:00 a.m. Gathering at McPherson Square Park at 15th Street and H Streets, NW
9:45 a.m. Marching from McPherson Square past Black Lives Matter Plaza, passing the White House and the Washington Monument
11:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. Rally with the backdrop of the National Mall, entering 12th Street and Madison Drive, gathering from 7th Street to 14th Street between Jefferson and Madison Drives
The National Action Network (NAN) has 45 busses organized and ready to make the drive to D.C.
On August 28, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King led 250,000 people on a historic March On Washington. There, in front of the Lincoln Memorial, he delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, calling on the nation to rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed. At the time, Black Americans were living under the tyranny of laws—called “Jim Crow” laws— that legalized racial discrimination. His speech that day has become one of the defining moments in American history.
Today, state legislatures are pushing America back to the Jim Crow era with laws that reinstate systemic discrimination at the ballot box. That is why, on August 28, 2021—58 years to the day after his father’s march—Martin Luther King III will help to lead Americans on another march to demand federal voting rights protections.
Marching is a form of nonviolent protest, and protest is a form of democratic expression older than America itself. We march to shine the light of truth on what is happening in state legislatures, ensure that Americans understand what’s at stake, and give people a mechanism to demand action on this most urgent issue of our generation.
(Thanks to the March on Washington for Voting Rights for the above text.)
August 13, 2021
Women’s Equality Day Celebration across Maryland (WEDC) is a FREE, family-friendly, non-partisan celebration of the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment affirming women’s right to vote. Come together to honor the achievements and sacrifices of the suffragists, celebrate the power of women’s votes and women’s voices, and continue the fight for full equality.
Our goal is to get the widest, most diverse range of women across the state aware of and engaged in the Suffrage Centennial—especially, those outside the usual “activist/feminist” circles. WEDC is held in multiple counties so that all women have access to a celebration, wherever they live, from the Eastern Shore to the Western mountains of Maryland.”
So how are you planning to celebrate the Suffrage Centennial?
August 8, 2021
NOW elects national officers every four years. Our national board of directors is elected every two years in even-numbered years. This year was scheduled to be an election year for our national officers, but as was the case last year, the conference and elections had to be held virtually.
This year’s election carried some controversy as a slate of two younger women was denied the right to run through procedural votes of the National NOW Board of Directors and some controversial rulings and actions by NOW’s parliamentarian and presiding leaders of meetings at which these rulings were upheld. There were two teams that were approved – the incumbent officers and a team of two activists (Gay Bruhn and Beth Corbin). Maryland NOW members were mailed links to the campaign websites as well as a link to the site sponsored by the young women who tried to run.
Some challenges became apparent in the virtual format we have had to adopt the past two years. Under NOW’s election rules, each approved team or slate has access to the membership lists and can mail campaign materials as often as they choose. For members who want to raise issues that they believe aren’t being addressed, it became clear with this virtual format it was very hard to get such messages out to voters. The online sessions offered little opportunity to actually raise questions or have serious discussions about matters of concern to chapters and states.
Some Maryland NOW officers and members were part of a group questioning issues that really weren’t being addressed – problems with membership processing, a sharp decline in the number of our chapters nationwide, and how money due chapters and states through rebates was being paid out. The failure of the office staff to renew our fundraising permits (officially called Charitable Solicitation Certificates) and, consequently the organization’s inability to mail renewal notices to most members for between 6 and 9 months has had crippling repercussions throughout NOW, yet was never addressed by the incumbent officers. It’s fair to say that most members were not even aware of the problem.
The incumbents did prevail and won the election. They will serve for a four-year term.
Registrations for the conference numbered 746. Of that number, 577 cast ballots for one of the two teams. This meant that 169 members eligible to vote did not vote — 22.6%. The incumbent slate “Forward Together NOW” won with 368 votes cast, and the slate of “Empowering Voices NOW” received 209 votes.
Traditionally, the work of NOW is generally conducted in business sessions held on the last two days of the conference. Bylaws were to have been voted on in Saturday’s session, and Issue Resolutions (the organization’s “action plan”) were to have been voted upon in Sunday’s business session. With registration for the conference of 746 members, a quorum of 186 (or 25%) was needed to conduct business at these meetings. On both Saturday and Sunday, only about 60% of that number was present, so both sessions were canceled when it became apparent that no quorum would be present.
Resolutions can be taken up by the National Board of Directors at any National Board Meeting, but changes to National NOW’s Bylaws can only be considered at annual meetings.
July 30, 2021
(Paula was a member of the Veteran Feminist Histories Project and the following was written by her family and posted on the VFA website. Please watch her interview for VFA to hear her story.)
Paula Caplan, a pioneering psychologist who exposed how her profession had pathologized a wide range of female traits and social responsibilities, including motherhood, menstruation, and even shopping, died on July 21 at her home in Rockville, Md. She was 74. Her daughter, Emily Stephenson, said the cause was metastatic melanoma.
Starting in the late 1970s, Dr. Caplan merged a rigorous clinical analysis with a fierce feminist perspective to show how many of the problems that psychologists said were innate to women — and especially mothers — had in fact resulted from social structures and dis-crimination that forced them into difficult situations, then medicalized their inevitably negative responses.
For example, in a 1984 article, “The Myth of Women’s Masochism” (and in a subsequent book by the same title), she took aim at Sigmund Freud and his acolytes, who said women suffered from “moral masochism” — that is, that they took pleasure in the frustrations and guilt that often arose from their roles as mothers and spouses. Dr. Caplan demolished Freud’s claim, first by pointing out that most women get no joy out of such pain, and then by showing how such frustration and guilt were often the results of unfair expectations placed on them by a patriarchal society.
Dr. Caplan, the author of 11 books, was perhaps best known for her seven-year battle with the American Psychiatric Association as it planned the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the encyclopedic guide used by millions of doctors to make diagnoses and by insurers to pay for them. She took particular issue with the decision by the manual’s editors to include “premenstrual dysphoric disorder,” in effect a lengthy or intense instance of premenstrual syndrome.