Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Letter: Amendment would ensure equal rights for women

COMMENT - And Amen to that!

by  Hailey Auglair
student, New Orleans

In the 21st century, it is appalling that this country still does not provide equal rights for women. Over the years, women have proved themselves more than capable of living a life of equality with men. Why does it seem that the many feats that women in this country have overcome become overlooked when the discussion of equal rights comes up? Do the names Rosa Parks, Nellie Bly, Amelia Earhart, Maya Angelou and Susan B. Anthony not say enough by themselves?

The famous argument proposed by Phyllis Schlafly, an Equal Rights Amendment opponent that “ERA would take away women’s traditional exemption from military conscription and also from military combat duty,” can easily be countered. Alice Paul Institute retaliates that the opposers’ arguments are unsound: “In fact, the lack of an ERA in the Constitution does not protect women against involuntary military service. Congress already has the power to draft women as well as men, and the Senate debated the possibility of drafting nurses in preparation for a possible invasion of Japan in World War II.”

If this is the soundest argument given by ERA opposers, a fear that already has the ability to become true, then why is there even a fight? It is necessary for the ERA to be passed to ensure the equality and protection of all citizens, not just men.  MORE

Monday, November 9, 2015

Civilities: Why Houston’s repeal of the ‘bathroom bill’ isn’t surprising

From:  Washington Post


Actress Sally Field, left, with Houston-area women leaders, speaks at a Human Rights Campaign news conference in Houston. (Michael Stravato/Ap Images For Human Rights Campaign)

Was I surprised by the fear-mongering campaign waged by those against Houston’s equal rights ordinance? Unfortunately, no. I’m old enough to recall anti-LGBT vendettas playing out in state and local politics decade after decade and, sadly, this kind of backlash can get ugly.

Last week, Houston voters overwhelmingly repealed the city’s law that guaranteed protections based on an individual’s sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as on sex, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, familial status, marital status, military status, religion, disability and pregnancy.

The cruelty of the opposition to this fair-minded ordinance reminded me in particular of singer Anita Bryant’s effort in 1977 to repeal the Miami-Dade County, Fla., ordinance outlawing discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, housing and public services. Bryant, along with the organization she headed, Save Our Children, sought to depict “homosexuals” (as we were then referred to) as amoral, promiscuous and child predators. Infamously, Bryant said: “Some of the stories I could tell you of child recruitment and child abuse by homosexuals would turn your stomach.”  MORE

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Springfield writer writes play for women's equality

From:  SJ-R.com

By Tara McClellan McAndrew, Correspondent

Posted Oct. 28, 2015 at 10:30 PM

In 1840, some of America’s top female abolitionists traveled to London for the World’s Anti-Slavery Convention. To their dismay, the men running this important event barred them, saying women shouldn‘t be involved with men‘s business and the like. They let the women sit in a closed-off, women-only gallery so the abolitionists could hear the proceedings, but not see or be involved with them.
About 135 years later, Springfieldian Carole Kennerly was similarly crushed. She had worked fervently for the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment, which would give equal rights for women in America. It failed.
Her disappointment led Kennerly to write a play about women’s struggle for equality called “Rising Up of the Springdale Ladies Aid Society.” A staged reading of it will be performed this Sunday at the Hoogland Center for the Arts.  MOVE

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Meryl Streep's Suffragette Premiere Interrupted by Women's Rights Protesters

From:  People

10/07/2015 AT 08:00 PM EDT

Sisters Uncut at Suffragette Premiere
Tristan Fewings/Getty
A group of women's rights protesters interrupted the premiere of Meryl Streep's new film, in which she plays a women's rights activist.

The protesters, who are part of a group called Sisters Uncut, laid their bodies on the red carpet at the London premiere of Suffragette on Wednesday, and had to be carried away by security. It's unclear if Streep was present at the time of the protest.

According to the group's Facebook page, the demonstration was meant to express their outrage over Parliament's recent decision to cut funding for domestic violence services.   MORE

Monday, October 5, 2015

Jennifer MacLeod

Jennifer is the founder of the ERA Campaign Network.  

 It was 2000, 212 years after the Constitution was ratified when Jennifer, a retired executive, gave a presentation to a group of Girl Scouts on the Equal Rights Amendment. The excited girls asked if Dr. Macleod could help them do a project on the ERA.   

Women were still excluded from  their full rights full rights under the Constitution.

Jennifer, an expert in survey research, prepared a simple poll and showed the girls how to conduct it. Later, Macleod would admit that she expected the poll would reflect mixed opinions to the idea of equality for women. She was wrong. 

Jennifer expected the Girl Scouts, polling their classmates, teachers, and parents, to find a range of opinions on equality for women. Instead, they found close to unanimous support for the idea that all of us are born possessed of inherent rights, as recognized in the Declaration of Independence. 

Dumbfounded, Jennifer Macleod arranged for a national survey professionally conducted in July 2001, among American adults all across the country. 

The findings? 96% answered "yes" to the question, "In your opinion, should male and female citizens of the United States have equal rights?"; 88% answered "yes" to the question.

 "In your opinion, should the Constitution make it clear that male and female citizens are supposed to have equal rights?"; and, demonstrating a public lack of knowledge, 72% mistakenly answered "yes" to the question. 

"As far as you know, does the Constitution of the United States make it clear that male and female citizens are supposed to have equal rights?" The results were similar for both men and women, and in all age groups, educational levels, regions of the country, racial categories, and household composition. 

 While the legislatures of 15 states had refused to ratify the ERA Americans had done so in their hearts and minds.

Jennifer MacLeod Explains the ERA and the U.S. Constitution


The rights of the citizens of the United States are based in its Constitution, a remarkable document that can be printed on just two newspaper pages. It was adopted in 1789 after the 13 English colonies in America won their war against the rule of the England's monarchy, and founded the United States of America. The Constitution originally consisted of seven "articles," or sections. They set out the structure and functions of a new form of government, devised to draw its power from, and be continually responsible to, the people -- not monarchs, hereditary ruling families, theocracies, or military victors. The government was designed to have three branches -- the executive (the elected president, and his cabinet and staffs), the legislative (the elected members of the two houses of Congress), and the judiciary (the federal judges and Supreme Court justices, nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate). The three branches, each with its defined functions and powers, form a system of checks and balances to prevent power being too concentrated and thus potentially tyrannical.

The fifth Article specifies the process by which the Constitution can be amended (added to) when the people, through their elected representatives, see a pressing need to do so. There are now 27 amendments in the Constitution, starting with several early ones, the "Bill of Rights," that explicitly addressed the rights of the new nation's citizens. Americans take their Constitution very seriously, constantly examining laws and practices in the light of the Constitution -- particularly with regard to governmental actions and the rights of individuals and groups. The ultimate authority on the interpretation of the Constitution lies not with the President or Congress, but with the Supreme Court, the highest court in the land.

A recent scientific survey showed that 96% of American adults believe that male and female citizens should have equal rights. Almost as many -- 88% -- believe that the US Constitution should make it clear that male and female citizens should have equal rights. These views are so widely accepted that 72% believe that the Constitution already does state that male and female citizens are entitled to equal rights. 

Yet the US Constitution does NOT contain any such guarantee. All male citizens, including former slaves, were granted by the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments (in 1868 and 1870) the constitutional right to equal protection of the laws, and the right to vote. But all WOMEN were still excluded: The female citizens of the nation remained subordinate to men, with no vote and no voice in the nation's laws to which they were nevertheless subject. It took many decades of struggle for women to win the right to vote, in 1920, when the Eighteenth Amendment was added to the Constitution.

But the right to vote was not enough. Severe discrimination against women in almost every aspect of society and its institutions and laws continued, ensuring that women remained second class citizens in almost every regard. With no constitutionally guaranteed citizens' rights except the right to vote, women would still had to toil mightily, usually with greatly inferior resources, against the many discriminatory laws and practices that so handicapped their lives.

In an effort to remedy that grievous inequality, women proposed the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA): "Equality of rights shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex." It was not until 1972 that the ERA was finally passed by two-thirds of both Houses of Congress and sent to be ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths or more of the states, as required by the Constitution. The same Congress imposed an unrequired ratification time limit of seven years on the ERA; it was later extended three years by another session of Congress.

Strong and well-funded opposition to the ERA quickly arose, particularly from corporations and other institutions that did not want to give up the economic advantages of having a vast supply of greatly underpaid female employees, arbitrarily almost entirely excluded from betterment or advancement. While dedicated women and their male supporters achieved ratification by 35 of the 50 states within the time limit, that fell short of the required 38. The ERA appeared dead.

Since then, American women's status and opportunities have greatly improved. But this has been the result of their continually and painstakingly working to convince Congress, legislators, and the courts, issue by issue, often state by state, that they should be accorded the equal rights with men that should be their birthright under the Constitution.

Even when anti-discrimination laws are passed, they (unlike Constitutional Amendments) can be weakened, changed, or even overturned by a simple vote of Congress or a state legislature -- and often are. Women's rights supporters therefore continue to reintroduce the ERA in every new session of Congress, starting the amending process over from the beginning. There has been encouraging progress; Representative Carolyn Maloney is currently leading the effort in the House, and Senator Edward Kennedy in the Senate.  

There is another strategy, however, by which the ERA may be achieved. Certain legal analyses and precedents support the view that any session of Congress could extend or eliminate the earlier time limit. Thus the 35 existing state ratifications would remain valid, and only three more state ratifications will be required. There are many thousands of people around the United States supporting and working for the "three-state" strategy. And -- a most exciting development -- one of the not-yet-ratified states, Illinois, is expected to ratify the ERA this year. This will turn the three-state strategy into a two-state strategy, and other unratified states are organizing to reach the goal of 38.

Even though the women of the United States have more rights and opportunities than those in a great many nations around the world, they are unwilling to accept anything less than what they deserve as citizens in a democracy: full equality with men, backed by an explicit Constitutional guarantee. The Equal Rights Amendment, once added to the Constitution, will finally provide that guarantee.

Joyce C. Kathan

Joyce passed on but left a legion of memories for her work and loving presence among us. 

Her family made a memorial slide show, sharing Joyce's life from the time she was a baby until her death.   Scroll to the bottom to what this beautiful memorial to a life well and truly lived.  Thanks to her daughter, Nancy, her  son, David, and her loving husband, Boardman (Barney) for sharing these tributes with us.

This article appeared in the Hartford Courant on August 17, 2014 celebrating Joyce's extraordinary life in service to her family, her community and the environment.



From: Hartford Courant

Extraordinary Life: An Advocate For Seniors, And Environmental Activism

  • Joyce Kathan, a longtime resident of Prospect, was a leader in the senior center movement in Connecticut, lobbied for seniors at the Capitol, was a pioneer in seeking greater options for women and worked hard to preserve the environment. Above all, she sought to get others involved in causes they believed in. Kathan, 82, died of kidney failure on June 18.
Joyce Kathan, a longtime resident of Prospect, was a leader in the senior… (Courtesy of Nancy Lee Kathan )
August 17, 2014|By ANNE M. HAMILTON, 
Special To The Courant
Joyce Kathan was a leader in the senior center movement in Connecticut, lobbied for seniors at the Capitol, was a pioneer in seeking greater options for women and worked hard to preserve the environment. Above all, she sought to get others involved in causes they believed in.
She received numerous awards for her work, including one from the United Nations Association of the United States of America for her efforts toward women's equality.
Kathan, 82, a resident of Prospect, died of kidney failure on June 18.
Joyce Marie Clark, the daughter of Herbert and Mabel Clark, was born on Oct. 28, 1931. She grew up in Middletown, where as a teenager she played the organ at the local Methodist church.

She was still in high school and the leader of a church youth group when Boardman Kathan, a young Wesleyan student, began attending the group's meetings.

Joyce graduated from high school and started college, intending to become a teacher, but volunteer work at the Wheeler Clinic in Hartford changed her mind, and she decided to work with older people. Her experience taking care of two grandmothers also helped confirm her career choice.

By 1951, her friendship with Kathan had grown enough that they became engaged. By that time, he was attending Yale Divinity School and about to go to the Netherlands on a Fulbright Scholarship for a year, but Joyce still had not finished college. They didn't want to postpone their marriage, and her father agreed that college could wait.

So, they were married in 1952, and four days later they sailed for Europe.
During their time in Leiden, Joyce learned Dutch while her husband studied 17th century Dutch religious history.

After their return, Boardman Kathan, known as Barney, finished divinity school and was ordained as a minister in the United Church of Christ. He served with several churches in the Midwest, where Joyce undertook the role of the minister's wife and raised their three children. He later worked for the UCC state conference in Boston, and then for an interfaith organization in New York before returning to Connecticut in 1973.

Joyce went back to college, and graduated with a degree in social work from Southern Connecticut State College in 1976. She became director of the Woodbury Senior Center in 1976, where she developed many innovative programs.

The Kathans also were among the founders of the Connecticut Association of Senior Center Personnel.

"She was one of the leaders in the senior center field," John Hogarth, the former director of the Meriden Senior Center said of Joyce Kathan. "She was a pretty selfless person. She was very committed to advocacy for seniors."

Joyce Kathan suffered significant hearing loss for many years, and she developed an award-winning program to teach senior citizens to read lips. For years, she lobbied the town of Woodbury to provide a new facility for the senior center — a goal that wasn't achieved until after she retired in 1997.

Joyce also was involved for many years with the League of Women Voters; she was president of the Cheshire chapter and served on the state board. She was an active member of the American Association of University Women, and served on many levels, including chapter president and state vice president, and as a member of the national legislative committee.
She persuaded the national AAUW to set environmental priorities, and organized a network of people around the country to work on environmental issues. In 1983, she was sent to the Netherlands to lead a seminar on the environment.

She also helped lobby at the state and federal level for equal pay for women, and for reproductive rights. She deplored the lack of women in the sciences, and, together with a friend, developed Brighten Your Future, an AAUW project that sent girls to college for a week in the summer to study math and science.

Kathan became active in the Coalition on Aging, a non-profit group that advocates for increased programs and services for older people. She published their newsletter, set up an annual program, and organized the Capitol Corps — older people who would go to the state Capitol every week to visit lawmakers and attend committee meetings. She also was a national coordinator in the effort to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution.
As part of her environmental activism, she wrote "A Citizen's Guide to Environmental Action," contributed a chapter on the role of citizens and private organizations in combating health hazards to "Management of Hazardous Agents," and also wrote the first recycling handbook for the town of Cheshire. She also served on the state environmental committee of the United Church of Christ.

"She was a wonderful example of a dedicated community volunteer you could count on to do a good job," said Helen Raisz, an AAUW friend.

Kathan liked to see her ideas turn into action. "She was always a leader, always upfront," said her husband. "She took no back bench."

Joyce Kathan Memorial Slide Show from David Kathan on Vimeo.
Joyce Kathan Slide Show