I live an intersectional life. My identity meets at the intersection of oppressions, and yet I find power in resisting that oppression—standing arm in arm with those who believe, as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, that “an injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Every time we give in to an oppressive piece of legislation, we allow a lesbian teacher at a Catholic school to get fired. Every time we remain silent as employers force their personal beliefs on their employees, we tell a woman that she has no right to govern her own body. Every time we allow the radical right to chip away at the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause, we admit that we are “less than.”
When I was coming to terms with my queerness, I was told “it gets better.” I have come to learn that it gets better only when we choose to make it better. After decades of fighting to be able to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, or by our glitter pumps, it is unacceptable to be fed watered-down legislation posing as liberation. We deserve justice everywhere—and I intend to lift my voice to call on the Senate to deliver it.— Kirin Kanakkanatt, ‘Asterisk Equality’ Isn’t Real Equality: Fighting for an ENDA Without Exemptions
ATTENTION NEW YORK!
Today is Statewide Call-In Day! Opponents of Women’s Equality Agenda are flooding the Capitol today with anti-equality propaganda. Call your legislators TODAY to tell them you support women’s equality, and they should too! (To find your legislators: Go here: http://www.nysenate.gov/senators to locate your Senator, and go here:http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/?sh=search to locate your Assembly member!) Let’s make sure our representatives know we want the Women’s Equality Agenda to become a reality in New York!
Four Things You Probably Don’t Know About Title IX
Tomorrow, Wednesday, February 6th, is National Girls & Women in Sports Day, which has people singing the praises of Title IX from soccer fields, softball diamonds, tracks, pools and countless other sporting venues — and for good reason! Title IX is an enormously important law for female athletes — no other law has done more to expand opportunities for women and girls in athletics. While there is still work to be done, the progress we have made thanks to Title IX is tremendous.
But what many people don’t know is that the benefits and protections of Title IX aren’t limited to athletics. Here are four other ways Title IX is there for young women (and men, too):
1. Equal opportunities in career and technical programs in traditionally male-dominated fields
Title IX requires that girls and boys be given equal opportunities in career and technical education programs, particularly in traditionally male-dominated fields. Getting more women in these fields may be the key to closing the gender wage gap, since predominantly female occupations pay lower wages than predominantly male ones. Women still face barriers and a lack of encouragement in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (often referred to as STEM), but Title IX has broadened opportunities for a number of women and girls.
Arizona Law Endorses Malpractice and Discrimination In Defense Of “Religious Liberty”
The state of Arizona is near the top of states looking to dramatically expand religious privileges as a means of curtailing women’s reproductive rights and redefining the relationship between women and the law. Earlier this month, Gov. Jan Brewer (R) signed into law two controversial bills, HB 2625 and SB 1365. HB 2625 expands the number of businesses that can deny access to insurance coverage for contraception and has garnered the most attention on the heels of the nationwide battle over access to prescription contraception.
But it is SB 1365 that poses the greatest risk to the women of Arizona.
SB 1365 prohibits the state from denying, revoking, or suspending a professional or occupational license based on any action deriving from a person’s religious convictions. It’s a broad expansion of the state’s conscience clause that already allows pharmacists, doctors, or other health care workers to refuse to perform abortions or to prescribe emergency contraception (though it is contraception, not an abortifacient) based on religious objections. Now, any licensed professional can deny services to anyone by declaring that their “sincerely held” religious belief is in conflict with otherwise prohibited and discriminatory conduct and be insulated from professional repercussions for doing so. That means, for example, that attorneys can now decline to represent health care workers facing complaints related to the delivery of reproductive health care, or they can refuse to represent an individual simply because she happens to be gay.
Supporters of SB 1365 insist the bill does nothing more than clarify that constitutional religious freedom protects a person’s professional license even as they acknowledge there are no known incidents of faith-based discipline in the state. Once again, the religious right offered up a solution in search of a problem.
And like every battle that places individual privacy rights in conflict with individual religious rights, there’s more to the story.
The push to pass SB 1365 dates back to 2008 and efforts by the State Bar of Arizona to require its members take an oath affirming sexual orientation as a protected class. As part of that oath the Arizona Bar, of which membership is mandated for Arizona attorneys, discouraged members from discriminating in representation of clients based on personal religious objections to sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. This push for nondiscrimination in the delivery of legal services of the state bar association ultimately went nowhere and the right took the issue up as a clarion call for action around an assault on religious liberty.
And they won.
The Arizona Bar Association is the regulatory entity for lawyers in the state. It handles ethics complaints and enforces the rules of professional responsibility against its members. Or at least it did until now. Thanks to SB 1365 the state’s only regulatory agency for attorneys must accept acts by its members that would be considered unethical by established standards of professional conduct if those actions are defended based on an individual’s religious preferences. The same is true for every professional governing body that maintains standards of practice and ethics for its members.
What’s even worse, those entities no longer have any effective means of punishing or expelling members from its ranks. That means that bad lawyers, bad doctors, and bad pharmacists will continue to take clients and there will be no means for those charged with the duty to oversee them to weed out those bad seeds.
And it represents a growing and dangerous legislative trend of shielding licensed professionals from professional and legal liability for actions that are considered negligent and/or unethical within those professions. More specifically, it shields those professionals for negligent and unethical conduct principally directed at women.
That means women continue to lose full access to the privileges and protections of the law, simply by virtue of their status as women. Under any other circumstance we’d call that discrimination. But in the current climate lawmakers would like us to call that religious liberty.