October 24, 2018
Two men accused of violence against women – one of harassment and one of sexual assault – are now Justices on the United States Supreme Court. For many of us, the month of September brought back painful memories of watching Anita Hill testify against Clarence Thomas before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1991. The bitter scenario that played out this time only reminded women that hard work to shift power in our government still remains.
The Trump Administration’s nominee to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court created with the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy was a long-time Republican political operative and judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals, Brett Kavanaugh.
As his name passed from a longer list to the short list of candidates to fill the seat, a woman now living in California named Christine Blasey Ford who had attended school in Montgomery County, Maryland at the same time as Brett Kavanaugh had a huge, life-changing decision to make. She had been deeply scarred when they were both teenagers by Kavanaugh who she believed sexually attacked her at a party and attempted to rape her. Should she irrevocably change her life by making the incident public, or stay silent?
Amid the circus of this appointment, given that any Administration appointment was certain to seat a solid conservative majority on the court that would be seated for at least several decades, Ford’s attempts to notify various Members of Congress did not reach daylight until shortly before the Judiciary Committee was to vote Kavanaugh’s nomination out for a confirmation vote in the Senate. After some days of political turmoil, the Republicans in control of the committee and Dr. Ford finally agreed to a hearing on September 27 at which only Ford and Kavanaugh would testify.
Ford’s testimony was strong, calm, and quite convincing. Kavanaugh, in sharp contrast, adopted a confrontation, partisan tone which in every way to even casual observers spoke to the fact that he was – for many reasons – unfit to serve as a Supreme Court Justice. He was ultimately confirmed by the second closest Senate vote for a confirmation of to the highest court in the country in our history.
It is small comfort to read through the lengthy listing of groups and prominent individuals opposed to his nomination and confirmation. As of this writing it is unclear how this highly controversial process and its outcome will affect the Midterm elections on November 6. For many women, this only adds to over two years of insults and verbal assaults on women from countless Republicans starting with the President of the United States. As the old saying goes, “Don’t get mad, get even.”
Maryland NOW’s Legislative Priorities for 2018
Sandy Bell, Maryland NOW Action Vice-President
Maryland NOW works with other women’s organizations in the state on women’s rights legislation through the Maryland Legislative Agenda for Women (MLAW).
A summary of the bills in this year’s agenda can be viewed at https://mdlegagendaforwomen.org/2018/05/01/2018-mlaw-legislative-agenda-final-report/
The legislation listed below are additional bills introduced during the legislative session and are ones on which Maryland NOW also worked. Maryland NOW worked on the legislation below in conjunction with other women’s organizations.
HB328/SB121/CH501: Family Law – Domestic Violence – Definition of Abuse
Sponsors: Delegate Dumais, Senator Zirkin
This law would expand the definition of “abuse” as it applies to petitions for domestic violence protective orders to include “misuse of telephone facilities and equipment, electronic communication or interactive computer service, revenge porn, and visual surveillance.” This bill simply aligns the domestic violence protective order definition of abuse with the peace order definition.
PASSED and approved by the Governor – Chapter 501
SB1010/HB1597: Labor and Employment – Sexual Harassment – Contractual Waivers and Reporting Requirements. Also known as #Me Too Maryland
Sponsor: Senator Zucker, Delegate Valderrama
The purpose of this bill is to provide that a provision in certain employment contracts, policies, or agreements that waive certain rights or remedies to a claim of sexual harassment, discrimination, or retaliation is null and void as being against the public policy of the State; prohibiting an employer from taking adverse actions against certain employees; providing that employers are liable for attorney’s fees; requiring certain employers to submit a report to the Commission on Civil Rights on or before a certain date each year; requiring the Commission to publish and make accessible to the public on the Commission’s website the reports; defining certain terms generally relating to sexual harassment in the workplace.
PASSED Enrolled and approved by the Governor – Chapter 739
SB965/HB1152: Family Law – Age of Majority – Jurisdiction of Court
Sponsors: Senator Lee, Delegate Hill
This bill would allow child support to continue past the age of 18. An equity court would retain jurisdiction for the purpose of awarding child support, in accordance with the child support guidelines, for a child who has attained the age of 18 and who is enrolled in secondary school; providing that an equity court shall retain jurisdiction for the purpose of awarding support for a young adult who has attained the age of 18 and who is not enrolled in secondary school; etc.
Unfavorable Report by Judicial Proceedings, withdrawn; and Unfavorable report by Judiciary
HB664/SB543: Labor and Employment – Payment of the Minimum Wage Required (Fight for Fifteen)
This bill would gradually increase the minimum wage – based on the annual growth in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers for the Washington-Baltimore metropolitan area – to $15 per hour by 2023; beginning July 1, 2026, the bill would also prohibit an employer from including the tip credit amount as part of the wage of certain employees.
No movement in either chamber past hearings.
HB797/SB598: Correctional Services – Inmates – Menstrual Hygiene Products
Sponsors: Delegates Queen & Dumais, Senators Lee & Kelley
This bill requires all corrections facilities in the state of Maryland to provide menstrual hygiene products to inmates free of charge and in the quantities they need.
PASSED and approved by the Governor Chapter 254 & 255
SB170/HB388: Criminal Procedure – Violation of Conditions of Release
Sponsors: Senator Lee, Delegate A. Miller
This bill expands the list of charges that someone being charged with a crime is prohibited from engaging in during the pretrial or posttrial release. The change specifically addresses actions against a victim who is a minor, and prohibits contact, harassment, or abuse of the alleged victim or going in or near the alleged victim’s residence or place of employment.
PASSED and approved by the Governor Chapter 427 & 428
October 22, 2018
2018 Maryland NOW PAC Endorsements
Ben Jealous and Susie Turnbull – Governor and Lt. Governor
Brian Frosh – Attorney General
Maryland State Senate
Ron Young (District 3) Frederick County
Katherine Klausmeier (District 8) Baltimore County
Katie Fry Hester (District 9) Howard County
Delores G. Kelley (District 10) Baltimore County
Clarence Lam (District 12) Howard County
Sarah K. Elfreth (District 30) Anne Arundel County
Holly Wright (District 37) Talbot County
Bill Ferguson (District 46) Baltimore City
Maryland State House
Karen Lewis Young (District 3A) Frederick County
Carol L. Krimm (District 3A) Frederick County
Lois Jarman (District 4) Frederick County
Ysela Bravo (District 4) Frederick County
Darrin R. Smith (District 4) Frederick County
Emily Shank (District 5) Carroll County
Natalie Ziegler (District 9A) Howard County
Jay Jalisi (District 10) Baltimore County
Adrienne A. Jones (District 10) Baltimore County
Dana Stein (District 11) Baltimore County
Shelly Hettleman (District 11) Baltimore County
Eric Ebersole (District 12) Baltimore County
Jessica Feldmark (District 12) Howard County
Shane Pendergrass (District 13) Howard County
Joseline Peña-Melnyk (District 21) Prince George’s County
Erek L. Barron (District 24) Prince George’s County
Kris Valderrama (District 26) Prince George’s County
Jason T. Fowler (District 27C) Calvert County
Edith Patterson (District 28) Charles County
Julia Nichols (District 29C) St. Mary’s County
Karen Patricia Simpson (District 31B) Anne Arundel County
Sandy Bartlett (District 32) Anne Arundel County
Tracie Cramer Hovermale (District 33) Anne Arundel County
Pam Luby (District 33) Anne Arundel County
Heather Bagnall (District 33) Anne Arundel County
Ronnie Teitler Davis (District 35B) Harford County
Dan O’Hare (District 37B) Wicomico County
Melissa Wells (District 40) Baltimore City
Samuel I. Rosenberg (District 41) Baltimore City
Sachin Hebbar (District 42B) Baltimore County
Pat Young (District 44B) Baltimore County
Brooke Lierman (District 46) Baltimore City
For Montgomery County NOW PAC endorsements please see:
January 25, 2015
By Connie Hickey, Montgomery County NOW Member, Past President of Montgomery County NOW
With regret we note the recent passing of Marlys Becker, a longtime member of Montgomery County NOW who served as president of Maryland NOW from 1976 to 1979, and as a member of the Montgomery County Commission for Women from 1980 to 1982.
November 17, 2014
I could be mad that the ERA wasn’t in place well before my birth. And sometimes I am.
I could be mad that the resounding effort to pass it in the 70’s and 80’s wasn’t successful. And sometimes I am.
I could be mad that so many are proud of the work they did so long ago on the ERA rather than the work that they might be doing now. And sometimes I am.
I could be mad that not enough is done to pass it quickly now. And sometimes I am.
I could be mad that so many don’t even know that there isn’t an ERA. And sometimes I am.
I could be mad that so many don’t even know enough to be mad that there is no ERA. And sometimes I am.
But I think that all of my energy should be channeled into passing the ERA in my lifetime – for my generation, for my children’s generation, for my grandchildren’s generation, and all to follow.
One more expression of equality would give us all one more thing to be happy – and not mad – about. And I hope that one day that will be.
October 1, 2014
Rosie Comes to Life: Women’s Fight for Rights on the Homefront is a documentary that tells the tale of how propaganda helped influence how women were treated prior, during, and after the war. It includes quotes from several Rosies themselves, history on the National Organization for Women and stellar examples of the propaganda used during the war. Not only this, but clips of an interview with NOW members Jeannette Feldner and Linda Mahoney and United4Equality’s Carolyn Cook who are three extraordinary women is featured.
— Robyn Fohouo and Cecilia Hornyak
September 26, 2014
By Emeline Boehringer, Haley Parsley, and Kory Sanders
It’s not common to see brave, empowered women strutting the streets of Baltimore carrying signs and sporting little to no clothing. No, this rare gathering is reserved for one day out of the year, the day of SlutWalk Baltimore. On this day, September 6, 2014, amid enthused college students and the leaders of influential organizations such as Maryland NOW and Hollaback! Baltimore, we stood with other girls who write for our zine, “Beast Grrl,” strategizing about whom to interview about the day’s event. As high school sophomores, we started “Beast Grrl” as a forum for our feminist ideas, but before we went to SlutWalk it was just us, a small group of teenagers, excited about feminism and Riot Grrl. We knew there were other feminists around us, but we hadn’t connected or formed a community with any of them. SlutWalk changed all of that. We were awestruck at how many people around our age were excited about feminism, just like us. When we’re talking about our zine, we are more often than not trying to pitch feminism, to convince people to care, so it was a welcome experience to be surrounded by people who we knew believed in feminism and would be supportive of those beliefs. Despite the slightly controversial nature of the walk, the women there made us feel comfortable and safe.
SlutWalk started in Toronto, Canada in 2011. The Executive Director of SlutWalk Baltimore, Rachel Perry-Crook, says of its beginnings that “[SlutWalk] started when a police officer addressed a group of college girls saying that in order to not be victimized, they shouldn’t dress like sluts…. The goal is to end victim-blaming and rape culture.” SlutWalks are organized in many major cities, as far apart as Johannesburg, South Africa and Washington, D.C. In Baltimore, armed with signs and chants, the march circled past Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, through the Red Light District, and ended with a series of speeches in front of City Hall. Though we were intimidated when we first arrived, during the walk we started to connect with SlutWalk and its mission in a visceral way. Yelling chants such as, “Whatever we wear, wherever we go, yes means yes and no means no!” and “Whoever you are, whatever you do, rape should never happen to you!” we felt connected to the cause in a way that sitting in a small circle and writing articles about feminism simply hasn’t supplied. It’s hard to articulate how much of a difference SlutWalk made in our relationship with feminism. Writing a zine is a great way for us to talk about our ideas, but it pales in comparison to the tangibility of marching and chanting next to sisters who are there to accept and support each other.
SlutWalk not only provides a forum for women excited about feminism to share ideas and take action, but also helps survivors of rape and sexual assault to find support. Once all the participants had arrived at City Hall, people began to give talks. After speeches by powerful women including the president of Maryland NOW, Sara Wilkinson, one of the site leaders of Hollaback! Baltimore (an organization dedicated to stopping street harassment), Mel Keller, and Mriga Rao, the chair of the Young Democrats of Maryland Women’s Caucus, the mic was opened to all walk participants. Many people came forward to speak to the group about how SlutWalk gave them the confidence to share their stories of sexual assault. A student from Goucher College told us that when she was raped as a freshman, her report of the attack to the college was denied. Her rapist received no punishment and is still allowed to attend school with her. Another Goucher College student, a freshman male, stated “I’m not okay with the fact that in our society my gift as a college freshman was a forty-pack of condoms, and my sister’s gift was a siren, a whistle, brass knuckles, and pepper spray.” As students who will be entering college in three years, fighting sexual assault in colleges has become incredibly important to us, and is another reason why SlutWalk’s message is so crucial for young women.
As young writers, SlutWalk changed the way that we think about activism in our community. SlutWalk sends a powerful message to women and men to end rape culture and victim blaming. If there’s any one thing that someone should take away from SlutWalk, it’s that whatever you wear, no matter where you go, yes means yes, and no means no.
This article was written by Emeline and Haley, two young feminists in Baltimore City who write for and publish “Beast Grrl”, a feminist zine with original art, poetry, and essays.“Beast Grrl” is sold at Red Emma’s in Baltimore City. If you wish to purchase a copy of “Beast Grrl” or would like to contribute to it, you can contact the zine at email@example.com. You can check “Beast Grrl” out on Facebook or at beastgrrlzine.tumblr.com.
September 15, 2014
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, September 15th, 2014
Maryland National Organization for Women PAC Asks Gubernatorial Candidates Larry Hogan, Anthony Brown, and Shawn Quinn to Explain their Positions on Women’s Health
SILVER SPRING, MD – Today, the Maryland National Organization for Women PAC (MDNOW PAC) formally requested that Republican Larry Hogan, Democrat Anthony Brown, and Libertarian Shawn Quinn answer the following five simple questions about their position on several critical issues impacting women’s health:
1. Will you commit to appoint a secretary of Health and Mental Hygiene that will fairly enforce Maryland’s current licensing procedures for medical professionals and facilities that provide abortion services, including speedy licensing and relicensing?
2. Will you maintain Maryland’s current balanced regulations for Maryland abortion clinics and oppose additional burdensome, excessive regulations on these facilities?
3. Will you commit to appoint judges and an insurance commissioner that will uphold Maryland law that ensures access to contraceptive coverage in private health plans; and protect women’s right to choose safe, legal abortion?
4. Will you commit to (at a minimum) maintain current funding levels for programs that provide reproductive health and contraceptive services to Maryland women – including the Family Planning and Reproductive Health Program?
5. Will you oppose legislative or executive action to create a “human life amendment,” which would outlaw common forms of birth control, like the pill and IUDs, and also ban fertility treatments?
July 8, 2014
Maryland NOW, Anne Arundel County NOW, and national NOW, along with many other national and local organizations, recently signed onto a letter to the U.S. House Majority Leadership supporting immigration reform, including fixes for victims of domestic violence. You can see a copy of the letter here: National DV-SA sign-on LTR in support of Immigration Reform-6-27-14.
Below is information for advocates to use to get Congress to act on immigration reform.
July 6, 2014
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 4, 2014
MARYLAND NATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR WOMEN (MD NOW)
STATEMENT REGARDING RECENT SCOTUS DECISIONS
In July 1776, the Continental Congress signed the Declaration of Independence asserting: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.” Over the generations since, we have expanded these unalienable rights, extending protections and participation to include more and more Americans. Unfortunately, the promise of the Declaration remains unrealized even as we celebrate Independence Day, thanks in no small part to the U.S. Supreme Court.