Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Women's Rights Advocacy Groups File Amicus Brief in Equal Rights Amendment Litigation

Amicus Brief in Virginia v. Ferriero (D.C. Cir.)

SUMMARY OF ARGUMENT

The fight for constitutional equality is a long-term project, andprogress has been painfully slow. For the first 144 years of our Nation’s history, women were denied the most basic right of citizens in a democracy: the right to vote. Women who otherwise met all criteria for voting found themselves barred from the polls, simply because of their sex. Their absence from the polls contributed to the development of laws and institutions that persistently discriminate against women.

Today, women serve with distinction in the C-suite, on the floor of Congress, on the soccer field, in the White House, and in combat. Yet women still face persistent inequality in nearly every sphere. Women are consistently underrepresented in positions of power and overrepresented among those in poverty. Women are still paid only 82 cents for every dollar paid to men—and, for women of color, even less than that. Women also face an epidemic of domestic and sexual violence. These problems are particularly acute for Black women, Latinas, indigenous and Native American women, immigrants, lesbians, trans women, and single mothers.

In the face of this persistent inequality, the Equal Rights Amendment is as relevant today as it ever was. The ERA declares that “[e]quality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” Drafted by Alice Paul and other suffragists in the 1920s, the ERA passed through Congress in 1972 with broad, bipartisan support. After the number of state ratifications stalled at thirty-five in the late 1970s, the fight for equality pressed forward, achieving steady progress on many fronts, including in public opinion. Today, Americans overwhelmingly support including an ERA in our Constitution. Three quarters of the States have now voted to ratify the ERA—satisfying the constitutional threshold—and there are active ratification efforts in every one of the unratified States. Yet the Archivist asks this Court to send the fight for constitutional equality back to square one.

This Court should reject that argument. The painfully slow progress toward equality makes it particularly important in this context to respect the plain text of Article V, which establishes a process for amendment that leaves no room for time limits. The ERA satisfied Article V’s amendment process in January 2020, when Virginia became the thirty-eighth State to ratify. Now that the ERA has been adopted, federal law requires the Archivist to publish it. See 1 U.S.C. § 106b. The seven-year time frame that Congress imposed in 1972 does not and cannot alter the process in Article V. The ERA’s time frame does not appear in the amendment itself; Congress placed it only in the resolving clause of its joint resolution. At a minimum, that choice means that Congress reserved for itself the power to change the time frame in a subsequent joint resolution—as it did in 1978.

More fundamentally, however, a time frame imposed unilaterally by Congress cannot stand in the way of an amendment that has met all the requirements for ratification under Article V. The validity of an amendment depends on the plain text of Article V, which provides that an amendment becomes “valid to all intents and purposes . . . when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several States.” Although the Framers did not recognize women as equal, they created a process for amending the Constitution that could reflect changes in our Nation’s understanding of equality, even when those changes evolve over many years. The ERA reflects such a change.

Publication by the Archivist is an important step forward. To be sure, the legal effect of an amendment does not depend on any action by the Executive Branch, which has no role to play under Article V. But the Archivist’s current refusal to publish the ERA is itself an inappropriate intrusion of the Executive Branch into the ratification process. One of the practical consequences of that refusal is its impact on the ongoing efforts by activists to press for revision of state statutes that continue to discriminate on the basis of sex. Although some States may be willing to make those revisions even without federal recognition of the ERA, others will not. In that respect—among others—the district court was wrong to assume that publication by the Archivist will make no difference.

 

January 12, 2022 in Constitutional, Courts, Legal History, Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

At least 7 states propose bills limiting rights of trans and nonbinary youth

At least 7 states propose bills limiting rights of trans and nonbinary youth

Officials in at least seven states have already proposed laws that would limit the rights of transgender and nonbinary youth in the first week of the year.

Lawmakers in Arizona, Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Oklahoma, New Hampshire and South Dakota this week introduced at least nine bills that would curb trans and nonbinary youths’ access to things like school sports and restrooms, and gender-affirming care.

“It is January which means states will be starting legislative sessions soon and we will again see gratuitous attacks on trans people, particularly trans youth,” Chase Strangio, the Deputy Director for Transgender Justice at the ACLU, wrote this week on Twitter.

Other trans advocates say they are preparing for another year full of proposed anti-LGBTQ+ legislation. States in 2021 enacted a “record-shattering” number of anti-LGBTQ+ policies, making it the worst year in recent history for LGBTQ+ state legislative attacks, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

January 11, 2022 in Gender, Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

State Legislatures Poised to Legislate Both For and Against Reproductive Choice

AP, State Legislatures in US Poised to Act on Abortion Rights

Early in the new year, the Vermont House of Representatives is due to begin debate on an amendment that would enshrine the right to abortion in the state constitution and send the question to voters in the fall.

 

Because the process began two years ago, it’s a coincidence that Vermont lawmakers will be considering the Reproductive Liberty Amendment while the U.S. Supreme Court is considering a case that could severely erode a right that has stood for half a century.

 

The pending decision in that case, expected in mid-2022, means it’s not just Vermont with abortion on the legislative agenda. State legislatures across the country will be responding to the possibility of seismic change to the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion across the U.S. Republican-led legislatures are ready to further restrict or ban abortions outright while Democratic-led ones are seeking to ensure access to abortion in their state law.***

 

A far different approach is being considered in Kansas. Republican state lawmakers have placed on the state’s August 2022 primary ballot a proposed constitutional amendment that would overturn a 2019 state Supreme Court decision. That ruling declared abortion access a “fundamental right” and part of a woman’s inherent right to bodily autonomy.

 

The amendment would say that the state constitution provides no right to abortion and that the Legislature can regulate it however lawmakers see fit — which means if Roe v. Wade is overturned, Kansas lawmakers could ban abortion completely.

 

In California, lawmakers are expected to consider a plan in the coming year to make the state a “sanctuary” for those seeking reproductive care. That could include paying for travel, lodging and procedures for people from other states where abortions have been restricted or perhaps outlawed.***

 

At least 20 states, mostly across the South and Midwest, already have laws that would severely restrict or ban abortion if the high court overturns Roe and leaves the issue up to the states, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive rights think tank.***

 

More than a dozen states, plus the District of Columbia, have statutory protections in place for abortion rights, said Elizabeth Nash, a state policy analyst with the Guttmacher Institute. That includes Massachusetts, where the Democrats who control the legislature earlier this year approved a bill over the veto of Republican Gov. Charlie Baker codifying abortion rights into state law.

 

December 29, 2021 in Abortion, Legislation, Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 9, 2021

First Law of "Momnibus" Mothers' Legislation Passed by Congress, The Protecting Moms Who Served Act

First "Momnibus" Bill Signed Into Law, and Others Could Follow

The day she introduced the “Momnibus” in March 2020, Rep. Lauren Underwood (D-Ill.) warned of a public health crisis that would not abate unless lawmakers took action: Black birthing parents were dying at unacceptable rates, she said.

 

“While maternal mortality rates continue to drop around the world, they are rising in the U.S., leaving behind devastated families and children who will never grow up knowing their moms,” Underwood said in a statement introducing the Black Maternal Health Momnibus, a legislative package with an unprecedented focus on Black moms.

 

“This crisis demands urgent attention and serious action to save the lives of Black mothers and all women across the country,” Underwood added.

 

When Underwood made those remarks on Monday, March 9, 2020, she was unaware that in two days, the entire landscape of public health in America would change. By Wednesday night, the World Health Organization had declared covid-19 a pandemic, prompting cities to ban large gatherings, close schools and send many office workers home.

 

Still, Underwood and other members of the Black Maternal Health Caucus, which was established in 2019 and assembled the wide-ranging Momnibus, kept their eye on maternal care. They continued trying to lobby the 12 bills and weave in maternal health resources within other covid relief packages, Underwood said.

 

Now, they’re celebrating a big first step.

 

Last Tuesday, nearly 17 months after the Momnibus was unveiled, the first bill from the package was signed into law by President Biden: the Protecting Moms Who Served Act, which puts $15 million into boosting maternity care for military veterans. The bill’s co-sponsors included 41 Democrats and two Republicans. (Biden signed three other bills supporting the country’s veterans that day.)

December 9, 2021 in Family, Healthcare, Legislation, Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0)

Proposed California Legislation Would Position State as Refuge for Abortion Rights

NY Times, California Positions Itself as a "Refuge" of Abortion Rights

Political leaders in California said on Wednesday that they would work to make the state a sanctuary for women seeking abortions if a Supreme Court ruling allows the procedure to be banned in more conservative parts of the country.

 

The proposal, which was released with the backing of Gov. Gavin Newsom and the leaders of California’s two legislative chambers, calls for increasing funding for abortion providers and dozens of other measures to make it easier for clients to access abortion services and providers to get paid. It also includes a recommendation to fund the procedure for low-income women who come to California for abortion services.***

 

“We consider this an incredibly critical moment in the history of women’s rights,” Ms. Atkins said in an interview. “We want to let people know that we are going to be part of the solution, that we are a beacon.”***

 

Twenty-one states have anti-abortion laws already in place that could be put in effect if Roe is overturned, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that advocates abortion rights.

December 9, 2021 in Abortion, Constitutional, Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, regarding Mississippi abortion law, to be heard by SCOTUS on December 1

Explainer: Abortion At the Supreme Court

On Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case out of Mississippi that could eliminate a pregnant person’s constitutional right to an abortion. The law in question bans abortion at 15 weeks gestation, significantly before viability. With this case as a vehicle, the Mississippi attorney general has explicitly called on the high court to strike down Roe v. Wade

The case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, turns on the issue of viability. Supreme Court precedent protects the right to abortion before a fetus can survive outside of the womb, usually around 24 weeks; states can’t pass laws that present an “undue burden” for someone seeking an abortion before that point. While a total ban before viability would undermine Roe, many experts think the Supreme Court might allow it anyway. Because the one clinic in Mississippi only performs abortions up to 16 weeks, lawyers may argue, a 15-week ban does not constitute an undue burden.

. . .

Between the Texas and Mississippi cases, this is an unprecedented term for abortion on the Supreme Court.

November 30, 2021 in Abortion, Constitutional, Family, Gender, Healthcare, Legislation, Reproductive Rights, SCOTUS | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 29, 2021

Anti-Trans Legislation Refusing To Say "Transgender"

The 19th reports in its article The word missing from the vast majority of anti-trans legislation? Transgender on both the spike in anti-trans legislation and also the trends in language usage: 

Over three special legislative sessions this year, Texas legislators introduced 47 proposed bills that aimed to restrict transgender kids’ access to sports or gender-affirming care, plus three bills that would block birth certificate updates for minors. The word “transgender” didn’t appear in any of them. * * * 

More anti-trans bills were introduced in state legislatures in 2021 than in any previous year on record. The 19th reviewed the text of 102 bills in seven states that were primarily designed to restrict access to sports or gender-affirming care for trans youth, like hormones and puberty blockers, and only seven bills mentioned the word “transgender.” Only eight passed, primarily those focused on sports, although legal battles in several states have barred most from going into effect.

The article describes how this strategy is not new, but it is evolving. It is also "intentional and strategic." The harms are searing. 

I think it’s a lot more simple than we want to admit,” said Emmett Schelling, executive director for the Transgender Education Network of Texas. “If we refuse to name, or even recognize the existence of something, then … understanding is negated.” 

 

By not acknowledging transgender people’s existence in legislation or rhetoric that affects them, Schelling said, proponents of these bills make it impossible for them to also acknowledge potential harms.

 

“Like, ‘I’m not saying that they’re not happening, I’m actually going a step further and I’m saying, ‘You don’t exist, so it can’t happen.’ There is something deeply disturbing about that,” he said. 

November 29, 2021 in Gender, Legislation, LGBT | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Congress Proposes Giving Plaintiffs the Option to Reject Mandatory Arbitration for Sexual Harassment and Assault Cases

Lily, Wash Post, Forced Arbitration Can Shield Workplace Harassers, Legal Experts Say

On Tuesday, they testified before the House Judiciary Committee. All four women said they reported the behavior to someone at their company. All four women said they were retaliated against for speaking up. And all four women went through mandatory arbitration — an often confidential process that has, for many companies, become the primary way of handling employee disputes.***

 

Mandatory arbitration, a process that requires employees and consumers to mediate their grievances with the company in a closed-door forum rather than go to court, is now the norm for many businesses, especially nonunion workplaces.

 

But more than four years after the #MeToo movement propelled a nationwide reckoning of sexual abuse in the workplace, critics of mandatory arbitration say it has protected toxic, abusive workplaces and the people who run them. Changing this particular process is crucial to making substantive strides on workplace harassment, they say.

 

Supporters of arbitration, meanwhile, claim that the process is a faster, less expensive alternative for workers than filing a lawsuit in court, and could be less intimidating. But workers rights groups and trial lawyers have long argued that the process isolates workers and leaves them at a major disadvantage in winning remedy or compensation from their employers.

 

In Congress, there is a bipartisan push to amend arbitration rules. On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee passed the Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal (FAIR) Act, which would offer workers the option to resolve their complaints through arbitration or the courts. The Senate Judiciary Committee recently passed an identical version of the bill.

 

The bill would give workers with sexual abuse claims against their employers the choice to either go through arbitration or pursue their claims in court.

November 24, 2021 in Courts, Equal Employment, Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Germany debates how to form gender-neutral words out of its gendered language after 2018 federal law

Germany debates how to form gender-neutral words out of its gendered language

In Germany, the debate about gender-neutral and inclusive language is complicated by grammar. Just as in many other languages, gender in German isn’t denoted by personal pronouns alone. German nouns that refer to people have traditionally been masculine or feminine. So, a male citizen is a Bürger and a female citizen is a Bürgerin. But in the plural, the masculine is traditionally used by default — a point that’s been contentious at least as far back as the second wave of feminism in the 1960s.

In 2018, a new federal law stipulated that all forms of ID — from birth certificates to passports — must include three options: male, female and diverse, all of which can even be left blank.

Since then, gender-neutral language has become more commonplace. German airline Lufthansa recently ditched the phrase “ladies and gentlemen,” German scholars are preparing a gender-neutral edition of the Bible and in some cities — like Hanover — there’s an official directive about using gender-neutral words.

Known for speaking Hochdeutsch — considered the most standard variant of German — Hanoverians have been encouraged by city hall to use gender-sensitive language for almost two decades, avoiding the generic masculine whenever possible.

In 2019, Hanover became the first state capital to mandate the use of gender-neutral language in all official communication, from emails to brochures and posters. It deployed what’s known as the “gender star,” an asterisk placed within a noun to indicate it refers to men, women and nonbinary people alike. For instance, the word for all citizens became Bürger*innen.

Annika Schach, who was the city’s communications director at the time, says the new language guidelines have had a mixed reception, but she believes that the generic masculine is passé.

“Using gender-neutral language or the gender star has less to do with wanting to change the world, and more to do with reality,” Shach says. “Society is not only made up of men, but women, intersex and nonbinary people too and the language we use must reflect this.”

November 23, 2021 in Gender, Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Study: How NYC Legislation Addresses Gender Equity

Study: How NYC Legislation Addresses Gender Equity

Titled “Advancing Gender Equity through Legislation: A Compilation of Laws passed from 2014 - 2020," the study broke down New York City legislation into three areas that traditionally disadvantage non-male genders: economic mobility and opportunity, health and reproductive justice, and safety.

“One of the things that CGE had noticed before we did this report was that all of this legislation wasn’t in one place and easily accessible to people,” said Dr. Maria D’Agostino, a professor of public administration at John Jay College and the study's co-author. “And then during COVID, lots of gender issues were made worse, such as gender-based violence, so it became even more important for New Yorkers to know their rights.”

. . .

Elias and D’Agostino are founding co-directors of the Initiative for Gender Equity in the Public Sector (IGEPS), which conducted the study.

For New Yorkers, this study’s timing may be especially noteworthy as Kathy Hochul recently became the first female governor of New York state after former governor Andrew Cuomo resigned following allegations of sexual misconduct. The scandal highlighted the sexual assault and harassment that many women, transgender, and non-binary people continue to face in the workplace.

“Our partnership with IGEPS helped CGE achieve one of its key goals—to ensure that New Yorkers can readily access information on the gender equity gains made since 2014,” said Jacqueline M. Ebanks, executive director of CGE.

One key gender equity gain from the IGEPS study was a 2017 New York City law requiring agencies designated by the mayor to survey everyone whom the agency serves on their sexual orientation and gender identity. Each agency for the first time must gather this demographic information, create a report summarizing the data, and regularly review their data collection process. 

November 23, 2021 in Gender, Healthcare, Legislation, Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Book "Why Don't Women Rule the World?"

Book, Why Don't Women Rule the World?

Why Don't Women Rule the World?

Why Don't Women Rule the World?: Understanding Women's Civic and Political Choices

FIRST EDITION

 “[Why Don’t Women Rule the World?] is unlike other texts in its comparative approach and strong theoretical underpinnings. It has interesting pedagogical features that will resonate with comparative scholars, Americanists and those who integrate public policy analysis into the course.”
—Rebecca E. Deen, University of Texas at Arlington  

Why don’t women have more influence over the way the world is structured?  

Written by four leaders within the national and international academic caucuses on women and politics, Why Don't Women Rule the World? helps students to understand how the underrepresentation of women manifests within politics, and the impact this has on policy. Grounded in theory with practical, job-related activities, the book offers a thorough introduction to the study of women and politics, and will bolster students’ political interests, ambitions, and efficacy.  

Key Features: 

  • A comparative perspective expands students’ awareness of their own intersectional identities and the varying effects of patriarchy on women worldwide.  
  • A variety of policy areas highlighted throughout the book illustrates how different theories are applied to real-world situations.            
  • Multiple political engagement activities keep students engaged with the content.

November 10, 2021 in Books, Education, Legislation, Pop Culture | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 1, 2021

Illinois Recognizes October as Menopause Awareness Month

The Illinois House adopted a resolution on October 28, 2021 declaring October as Menopause Awareness Month.  The resolution is here.   

RESOLVED, BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE ONE HUNDRED SECOND GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, that we declare the month of October 2021 as Menopause Awareness Month in the State of Illinois; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we support raising awareness of menopause as it is critical to dispelling the myths and ensuring that the symptoms of menopause are recognized and that treatment is identified and secured where needed; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we support raising awareness of all aspects of a woman’s reproductive cycle as it is critical to ensuring understanding, compassion, and support for those experiencing menopause while dispelling the myths and shattering the stigma associated with menopause.

November 1, 2021 in Legislation, Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Proposed Reconciliation Plan and Paid Leave

Progressives push back on decision to shrink Biden's paid family leave program

Progressive Democrats in the Senate and House are pushing back against a preliminary decision by President Biden and Democratic leaders to significantly cut funding for a national family paid leave program from the budget reconciliation bill.

 

A group of 15 Senate Democrats led by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday sent a letter to Biden, Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) urging them to include a more robust family and medical paid leave program in the legislation.

 

“We urge you to include a national paid leave program that is meaningful, comprehensive and permanent in the Build Back Better Act. It must be universal to cover all workers, provide progressive wage replacement to help the lowest wage earners, and cover all existing types of leave with parity,” the senators wrote.

 

The letter was also signed by Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.).

 

It comes a day after Biden informed liberal Democrats at a White House meeting Wednesday that the emerging legislation will only provide four weeks of paid leave benefits instead of the 12 weeks initially discussed by lawmakers.

 

The program is also expected to be means tested to be limited to lower-income families. 

 

This proposed cut isn’t sitting well with Democratic senators who argue that funding a generous national paid leave program will boost the economy and address what they say is a child care crisis.

 

“Paid leave is a critical policy to improve the economic security of families, support businesses, and increase economic growth,” they wrote.

 

“The pandemic has exposed an acute emergency on top of an ongoing, chronic caregiving crisis for working people and employers alike. We cannot emerge from this crisis and remain one of the only countries in the world with no form of national paid leave. Now is the time to make a bold and robust investment in our nation’s working families,” they argued.  

October 26, 2021 in Family, Gender, Legislation, Work/life | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

CAL Eliminates Spousal Rape Exemption

Carrie Baker, California Eliminates Spousal Rape Exemption

On Thursday, California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) signed a bill mostly eliminating an antiquated distinction in California law between “spousal rape” and rape, which has for years resulted in more lenient penalties for perpetrators who rape their spouses.

 

“From the beginning of our efforts, we have been clear that rape is rape. A marriage license is not an excuse for committing one of society’s most violent and sadistic crimes,” said Assemblymember Christina Garcia, chair of Legislative Woman’s Caucus. “The first question a rape victim is asked should not be whether or not they are married.”

 

Assembly Bill 1171 eliminates section 262 on spousal rape in the California Penal Code to ensure perpetrators convicted of raping a spouse are subject to the same mandatory imprisonment and sex offender registry requirements as those convicted of raping someone who is not their spouse. The previous law had allowed spousal rapists to plea bargain their sentence down to probation and gave judges discretion as to whether to list them on the state’s sex offender registry.

 

“The rape of a spouse was probation-eligible in every case, even those involving force or violence, compared to rape of a non-spouse, which involved a three-year mandatory sentence to prison. That created all kinds of inequalities and unfairnesses,” said Michele Dauber, a Stanford law professor and chair of Enough is Enough Voter Project, who led the effort to pass the bill.***

 

The previous law also did not allow prosecution for rape when a spouse was unable to give legal consent because they were under the influence or unconscious, when a perpetrator threatened their spouse with retaliation, or when a perpetrator fraudulently represented the situation. A.B. 1171 law removes these spousal exemptions.

October 20, 2021 in Legislation, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

CA SB 826 and its affects on the Labor Market regarding Female Directors

How Deep is the Labor Market for Female Directors? Evidence from Mandated Director Appointments

By: Daniel Greene, Vincent Intintoli, Kathleen M. Kahle

We examine the depth of the labor market for female directors following an exogenous shock to demand caused by California Senate Bill 826. Despite a surge in female appointments, new female director qualifications remain stable when benchmarked to control groups, indicating a deep labor market. Relative to the same control groups, we likewise find little evidence that investors view female director appointments more negatively following the law. However, stock returns to new female director appointments do not offset negative returns to the 2018 enactment of the law, suggesting that overall, investors still anticipate negative effects.

October 19, 2021 in Equal Employment, Gender, Legislation, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 4, 2021

California Assembly Passes Menstrual Equity for All Act

The California Assembly has passed the Menstrual Equity for All Act. It is awaiting the Governor's signature. Current law requires feminine hygiene products be provided in schools that meet a 40% public poverty threshold.  The Legislative Counsel's Digest summarizes that: 

This bill would enact the Menstrual Equity for All Act of 2021, which would require a public school, as provided, maintaining any combination of classes from grades 6 to 12, inclusive, to stock the school’s restrooms with an adequate supply of free menstrual products, as defined, available and accessible, free of cost, in all women’s restrooms and all-gender restrooms, and in at least one men’s restroom, at all times, and to post a designated notice, on or before the start of the 2022–23 school year, as prescribed.
 
This bill would require the California State University and each community college district, and would encourage the Regents of the University of California and private universities, colleges, and institutions of higher learning, to stock an adequate supply of menstrual products, available and accessible, free of cost, at no fewer than one designated and accessible central location on each campus and to post a designated notice, as provided.
This bill was authored and championed by Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia. It expands the 2017 law that she also authored. The bill received widespread bipartisan support.  

October 4, 2021 in Education, Healthcare, Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Iceland Parliament (Almost) Reaches Gender Parity and Europe's First Female-Majority Legislature

Iceland Elected the First Female-Majority Parliament in Europe. A Recount Reversed It.

Iceland heralded a weekend election result that would have made it the first country in Europe to have more women than men in parliament. But the celebrations were brief: A late recount put it just below gender parity.

 

Early results showed women won 33 seats in Iceland’s 63-seat Parliament, known as the Althing, up from 24 in the previous vote. Hours later, a surprise recount in the west of the country changed the outcome, leaving female candidates with 30 seats, according to state broadcaster RUV.

That is still the highest representation for women in Europe, at nearly 48 percent, ahead of Sweden and Finland with 47 percent and 46 percent, respectively.

 

“The female victory remains the big story of these elections,” politics professor Olafur Hardarson told the state broadcaster after the recount.

 

On average, just over a quarter of legislators globally are women, according to data from the Inter-Parliamentary Union. Only three countries — Rwanda, Cuba and Nicaragua — have more women than men in parliament, while Mexico and the United Arab Emirates have a 50-50 split.

 

Iceland, a North Atlantic island of 371,000 people, has been ranked the most gender-equal country in the world for more than a decade by the World Economic Forum, based on measures such as economic opportunities, education, health and political leadership. It even bettered its overall score last year at a time when global progress stagnated during the coronavirus pandemic.

September 29, 2021 in International, Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Obergefell, Masterpiece Cakeshop, Fulton, and Public-Private Partnerships: Unleashing v. Harnessing 'Armies of Compassion' 2.0?

Obergefell, Masterpiece Cakeshop, Fulton, and Public-Private Partnerships: Unleashing v. Harnessing 'Armies of Compassion' 2.0?

By: Linda C. McClain

Published in: Family Court Review (Forthcoming)

Fulton v. City of Philadelphia presented a by-now familiar constitutional claim: recognizing civil marriage equality—the right of persons to marry regardless of gender—inevitably and sharply conflicts with the religious liberty of persons and religious institutions who sincerely believe that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. While the Supreme Court’s 9-0 unanimous judgment in favor of Catholic Social Services (CSS) surprised Court-watchers, Chief Justice Roberts’s opinion did not signal consensus on the Court over how best to resolve the evident conflicts raised by the contract between CSS and the City of Philadelphia. This article argues that it is productive and illuminating to compare such conflicts over public-private partnerships and the best understanding of pluralism in a constitutional democracy with controversies arising twenty years ago over the faith-based initiative launched by President George W. Bush with the blueprint, Rallying the Armies of Compassion. That initiative also rested on premises about the place of religion in the public square and the role of civil society in carrying out governmental purposes. In both contexts, concerns over “discrimination” took two forms: first, that religious entities who contract with government might be subject to governmental discrimination in not receiving funding and, second, that religious entities who contract with government might themselves engage in discrimination. This article evaluates how the parties and their amici in Fulton argued over these forms of discrimination.

. . .

This article focuses on other unaddressed, significant questions in Fulton, including the precedential force and implications of the Court’s earlier decisions in Obergefell v. Hodges and Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission on a post-Kennedy and post-Ginsburg Court with a 6-3 conservative majority. As elaborated below, those cases addressed earlier iterations of the evident conflict between marriage equality—and LBGTQ equality more broadly—and First Amendment claims. I will argue that the Court’s opinion in Fulton also did not engage with analogies that were powerful, pervasive, and contested in those earlier cases: the analogy between discrimination on the basis of race and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and the analogy between religious opposition to interracial marriage, on the one hand, and, on the other, to same-sex marriage. Even so, those analogies featured in the Fulton briefs and in the justices’ questioning during the oral argument. Notably, a rejection of that analogy appeared in Justice Alito’s Fulton concurrence, where he argued that “lumping those [like CSS] who hold traditional beliefs about marriage together with racial bigots is insulting to those who retain such beliefs,” as well as contrary both to the majority’s “commitment” in Obergefell and to Masterpiece Cakeshop. Strikingly, Justice Alito’s rhetoric of racial bigotry echoes his earlier dissents in those very cases he now enlists. This article illustrates the different ways in which the parties and their amici enlisted or rejected the race analogy.

 

 

September 28, 2021 in Constitutional, Courts, Family, Gender, Legislation, LGBT, Race, Same-sex marriage, SCOTUS | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

California Moves to Be First State to Outlaw Stealthing, or Removing Condom Without Consent

NYT, California Moves to Outlaw "Stealthing" or Removing Condom without Consent

The California State Legislature this week approved a measure that would make the state the first to outlaw stealthing, the act of removing a condom during sex without a partner’s consent.

 

The bill, which was approved unanimously on Tuesday, awaits the signature of Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, who has until Oct. 10 to sign it into law. A spokesman for the governor said his office did not comment on pending bills.

 

If approved, the measure would amend the state’s civil definition of sexual battery and make stealthing a civil offense, meaning victims could sue their assailants for damages.***

 

Ms. Garcia, a Democrat, said that she had tried to pass legislation criminalizing stealthing since 2017, when a Yale University study brought widespread attention to it. But she ran into considerable opposition.

 

The bill that was approved this week that would make stealthing a civil offense “is a good first step,” Ms. Garcia said. She said she hoped it would lay the groundwork to eventually add stealthing to the state’s criminal code.

 

A study published in the National Library of Medicine in 2019 reported that 12 percent of women said that they had been a victim of stealthing. Another study that year found that 10 percent of men admitted to removing their condom during intercourse without their partner’s consent.

 

Alexandra Brodsky, who wrote the 2017 Yale study and is the author of “Sexual Justice,” a book that addresses various forms of institutional response to sexual harassment and assault, said that the measure approved this week could bring “political and personal power” to victims. She said that it would remove any ambiguity surrounding stealthing — which tends to begin with the consensual act of sex — by defining it as illegal.

September 15, 2021 in Legislation, Reproductive Rights, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Texas Judge Grants Temporary Injunction to Stay Lawsuit by Texas Right to Life under New 6-Week Abortion Ban

The Hill, Texas Judge Hands Narrow Win to Abortion Providers Fighting New 6-Week Ban

A Texas state judge on Friday temporarily blocked an anti-abortion group from enforcing Texas's new 6-week abortion ban against Planned Parenthood, handing a narrow legal victory to abortion rights advocates.

 

Judge Maya Guerra Gamble's (D) ruling does not invalidate the new law but rather halts Texas Right to Life and its associates from suing abortion providers and workers at Planned Parenthood clinics under the statute, S.B. 8, that took effect Wednesday.

 

“The Court finds that S.B. 8 creates a probable, irreparable, and imminent injury in the interim for which plaintiffs and their physicians, staff and patients throughout Texas have no adequate remedy at law if plaintiffs, their physicians, and staff are subjected to private enforcement lawsuits against them under S.B. 8,” Gamble wrote.***

 

Judge Gamble’s temporary restraining order is due to expire in two weeks, but her Friday order also announced a Sept. 13 hearing which could lead to the pause on the anti-abortion group’s enforcement authority being extended.

September 8, 2021 in Abortion, Courts, Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)