Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic candidate for President, in a statement addressing the allegations of sexual assault by a former congressional staffer from 27 years ago, denied the allegations while affirming the woman’s right to be heard and her complaints properly investigated. Biden, who has a distinguished career championing women’s rights, in fact securing passage of the Violence Against Women Act, invited investigation into any evidence of complaint, which he said would be filed in the National Archives. Here is his statement:
April was Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Every year, at this time, we talk about awareness, prevention, and the importance of women feeling they can step forward, say something, and be heard. That belief – that women should be heard – was the underpinning of a law I wrote over 25 years ago. To this day, I am most proud of the Violence Against Women Act. So, each April we are reminded not only of how far we have come in dealing with sexual assault in this country – but how far we still have to go.
When I wrote the bill, few wanted to talk about the issue. It was considered a private matter, a personal matter, a family matter. I didn’t see it that way. To me, freedom from fear, harm, and violence for women was a legal right, a civil right, and a human right. And I knew we had to change not only the law, but the culture.
So, we held hours of hearings and heard from the most incredibly brave women – and we opened the eyes of the Senate and the nation – and passed the law.
In the years that followed, I fought to continually strengthen the law. So, when we took office and President Obama asked me what I wanted, I told him I wanted oversight of the critical appointments in the Office on Violence Against Women at the Department of Justice and I wanted a senior White House Advisor appointing directly to me on the issue. Both of those things happened.
As Vice President, we started the “It’s on Us” campaign on college campuses to send the message loud and clear that dating violence is violence – and against the law.
We had to get men involved. They had to be part of the solution. That’s why I made a point of telling young men this was their problem too – they couldn’t turn a blind eye to what was happening around them – they had a responsibility to speak out. Silence is complicity.
In the 26 years since the law passed, the culture and perceptions have changed but we’re not done yet.
It’s on us, and it’s on me as someone who wants to lead this country. I recognize my responsibility to be a voice, an advocate, and a leader for the change in culture that has begun but is nowhere near finished. So I want to address allegations by a former staffer that I engaged in misconduct 27 years ago.
They aren’t true. This never happened.
While the details of these allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault are complicated, two things are not complicated. One is that women deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, and when they step forward they should be heard, not silenced. The second is that their stories should be subject to appropriate inquiry and scrutiny.
Responsible news organizations should examine and evaluate the full and growing record of inconsistencies in her story, which has changed repeatedly in both small and big ways.
But this much bears emphasizing.
She has said she raised some of these issues with her supervisor and senior staffers from my office at the time. They – both men and a woman – have said, unequivocally, that she never came to them and complained or raised issues. News organizations that have talked with literally dozens of former staffers have not found one – not one – who corroborated her allegations in any way. Indeed, many of them spoke to the culture of an office that would not have tolerated harassment in any way – as indeed I would not have.
There is a clear, critical part of this story that can be verified. The former staffer has said she filed a complaint back in 1993. But she does not have a record of this alleged complaint. The papers from my Senate years that I donated to the University of Delaware do not contain personnel files. It is the practice of Senators to establish a library of personal papers that document their public record: speeches, policy proposals, positions taken, and the writing of bills.
There is only one place a complaint of this kind could be – the National Archives. The National Archives is where the records are kept at what was then called the Office of Fair Employment Practices. I am requesting that the Secretary of the Senate ask the Archives to identify any record of the complaint she alleges she filed and make available to the press any such document. If there was ever any such complaint, the record will be there.
As a Presidential candidate, I’m accountable to the American people. We have lived long enough with a President who doesn’t think he is accountable to anyone, and takes responsibility for nothing. That’s not me. I believe being accountable means having the difficult conversations, even when they are uncomfortable. People need to hear the truth.
I have spent my career learning from women the ways in which we as individuals and as policy makers need to step up to make their hard jobs easier, with equal pay, equal opportunity, and workplaces and homes free from violence and harassment. I know how critical women’s health issues and basic women’s rights are. That has been a constant through my career, and as President, that work will continue. And I will continue to learn from women, to listen to women, to support women, and yes, to make sure women’s voices are heard.
We have a lot of work to do. From confronting online harassment, abuse, and stalking, to ending the rape kit backlog, to addressing the deadly combination of guns and domestic violence.
We need to protect and empower the most marginalized communities, including immigrant and indigenous women, trans women, and women of color.
We need to make putting an end to gender-based violence in both the United States and around the world a top priority.
I started my work over 25 years ago with the passage of the Violence Against Women Act. As president, I’m committed to finishing the job.
Today, as the nation is too consumed with the coronavirus pandemic to mark Equal Pay Day, Lilly Ledbetter, for whom the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was signed as Barack Obama’s first order of business as President upon taking office 2009, endorsed Joe Biden for President of the United States:
“This is the first time in more than 12 years that I am at home on Equal Pay Day. I’m usually in some part of the country with a huge crowd of women and men who are dedicated to closing the pay gap. Instead I am staying home, watching along with so many other people as the current president shows Americans just how little he cares about working families.
“As Equal Pay Day reminds us, women are paid far less than men. This pandemic is only increasing the inequalities facing women in this country. As the majority of the health care workforce, women are on the frontlines of this crisis, at times putting their own health at risk or separating from their families, while taking care of our country’s sick and vulnerable. And, as this crisis forces women to work from home, work fewer hours, lose their jobs, many at the same time are taking care of their families or trying to teach their kids at home. Yet they still face paycheck discrimination, just like I did so many years ago.
“I know Joe Biden. He understands what it’s like to be a single parent. And, he will fight for equal pay and working women, just as he always has. That’s why I am proud to endorse him to be our next president.”
Ledbetter won a historic gender pay discrimination case against her employer, Goodyear Tire and Rubbery Company, after she was paid less than her male counterparts simply because she was a woman. When the Supreme Court overturned the case, she took her fight to Congress and lobbied for a legislative fix. She is the namesake of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the first piece of legislation signed into law during the Obama-Biden Administration.
Equal Pay Day symbolizes how far into 2020 the average woman has to work to make what the average white man made in 2019.For every dollar a man makes, the average woman makes 82 cents. For a woman who works full time, year round, that’s a gap of more than $10,000 annually and over $400,000 over a forty-year career. The pay gap is even wider for women of color.
The pay gap has significant impacts on American families and our economy overall. If women earned as much as men, the poverty rate for working single women and the children who live with them would be cut in half.
Biden for President has previously announced more than 2,500 endorsements from national, state, and local leaders, including current and former U.S. senators and representatives, governors, state elected officials, community leaders, and national security professionals.
On International Women’s Day, Vice President Joe Biden, running for president, released a fact sheet detailing his record of working to advance gender equality at home and around the world, both as a Senator, notably championing the Violence Against Women Act (which Republicans have refused to renew) and as part of the Obama Administration which, as Obama’s first act, signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and promoted Obamacare which ended the hardship of being a woman counting as a “pre-existing condition”. This is from the Biden campaign:
Joe Biden has a long track record of working to advance
gender equality at home and around the world. As a Senator, Biden
introduced the International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA), which provided
a framework for the United States to address gender-based violence globally.
Though IVAWA never became law, the Obama-Biden administration used executive
action to implement much of the bill and its comprehensive approach to
The Obama-Biden Administration promoted the health, safety, and empowerment of
women and girls around the world because it was both the right thing to do and
the smart thing to do. Women’s full participation in all spheres of
society is fundamental to achieving global peace, development, and
prosperity. Twenty-five years ago this principle was agreed to by 189
countries in the Beijing Declaration,
which set forth a platform for action to advance women’s rights
globally. Unfortunately, today, as a result of the disastrous policies of
the Trump Administration, women’s rights and their opportunities for full
economic and political participation are under assault.
Trump’s decision to reinstate and expand the
global gag rule has had devastating effects on the health and well-being of
women around the world, with fewer organizations providing critical healthcare;
and his implementation of this rule here in the United States has cut funds
to over 900 women’s health clinics that
primarily serve women of color. Trump Administration policies have sought to
cut funds for global efforts to improve child and maternal health and
to halt the spread of HIV/AIDS. His
Administration’s cruel immigration policies have rejected asylum claims for
women fleeing horrific gender-based violence and made it much more difficult for
foreign women and girls who were trafficked into the United States to obtain
visas and receive the medical and social services they need to recover. He
has watered down and threatened to veto UN
Security Council resolutions that address sexual violence in conflict, making
it far more difficult for the international community to hold the perpetrators
of such violence accountable and ensure survivors have access to the health and
support services they need.
As President, Joe Biden will restore America’s leading role as a champion for
women and girls around the world and return to a government-wide focus of
uplifting the rights of women and girls at home and around the world. He
will do so by:
As president, Joe Biden will expand his Violence Against Women Act of 1994 to
the global landscape and restore U.S. leadership internationally by championing
the fundamental human right that all women should live free from violence—a
future the Violence Against Women Act helped make possible in the United
States. President Biden will rescind the Mexico City Policy that President
Trump reinstated and
restore U.S. funding to the United Nations Population Fund, which advances child
and maternal health, and works to end female genital mutilation and
cutting, early and forced marriage,
and other practices detrimental to the well-being of women and girls. The
Biden Administration will launch multi-sectoral efforts to confront
gender-based violence globally, beginning in Central America, where women face
some of the highest rates of
femicide (the murder of women because of their gender) in the world. Biden
will spearhead a comprehensive effort that places diplomatic pressure on
governments to train law enforcement to root out the corruption that enables
gender-based violence and teaches authorities to effectively investigate and
prosecute these crimes. Moreover, he will ensure that women and girls fleeing
gender-based violence are given the opportunity they deserve to seek asylum in
the United States.
Elevating Women Economically. The Biden Administration will invest
in women as economic catalysts for growth and development around the world,
because we know that when we grow incomes and opportunity for women, entire
communities, economies, and countries benefit.We forgo trillions of dollars in
wealth globally because women aren’t fully empowered and employed, and that has
negative consequences for the well-being of families and entire communities,
because women invest a particularly large share of their income in the
education and health of their families. Alarmingly, women’s global
economic participation and opportunity actually declined in the last year. Given
the trends, it will take 257 years to
achieve gender parity. Leaving one-half of the world’s population behind
inhibits peace, prosperity, and security at home and abroad, and we must tackle
the multifaceted barriers hindering the economic advancement of women and
girls. We cannot help half the world’s population advance meaningfully
without also addressing gender-limiting laws, policies, and norms, and we can’t
do it alone, without working with other countries.
Joe Biden will invest in critical areas to advance the status of women, and
close gaps between the economic well-being of men and women, and boys and girls
around the world. Specifically, the Biden Administration will increase access
to education as a driver of empowerment and accumulation of wealth.
Additionally, President Biden will focus on enhancing financially inclusive
banking and increasing women’s access to capital, so that women have the
resources they need to start and expand businesses. And President Biden will
work with partners in countries and multilateral organizations to
systematically tackle and eliminate legal and attitudinal barriers to equity and
inclusion. . More broadly, Biden Administration efforts to advance development
globally will pay particular attention to the often unique challenges faced by
underrepresented communities around the world, including indigenous women,
Afro-Latina women, and women in the LGBTQ community. The goal will be equality.
Promoting Women’s Contributions to Peace and Security. For 20
years, the international community has recognized the critical contributions
women make to advancing peace and security,
whether it’s recognizing the first signs of violent conflict in their
communities, or helping to forge more durable peace agreements in the wake of
conflicts. Yet women continue to be excluded from conflict resolution and
President Biden will ensure that efforts to build a more peaceful and secure
world include the talents of everyone, including women. In countries affected
by war, terrorism, and insecurity, a Biden Administration will protect and
advance women’s inclusion in decision-making roles, from negotiators to
parliamentarians, from security actors to peaceful protestors. He will ensure
full implementation of the United States’ 2017 law — based
on the groundbreaking Obama-Biden Administration National Action Plan on
Women, Peace, and Security — recognizing the security benefits of women’s
participation. As president, Biden will revive the United States’ commitment to
refugees and displaced persons, raising our refugee target to admit 125,000
annually to start, and he will require that programs supporting refugees
recognize and address the specific challenges women and girls face, from targeted violence and
trafficking to unequal access to basic services. He will champion multilateral
efforts to end sexual violence in conflict in the UN Security Council and to
hold perpetrators of such violence accountable, starting with ISIS. The
Biden Administration will provide financial assistance and training for local
and international efforts to document cases of ISIS-perpetrated sexual violence,
urge the Iraqi government to prosecute ISIS prisoners for gender-based violence
crimes, and support peacebuilding efforts in Iraq and elsewhere that promote
women’s inclusion.To ensure all civilians are better protected in times of
crisis, President Biden will work with the United Nations to improve
peacekeeper performance and accountability, including by supporting the UN’s
efforts to ensure peacekeepers are trained to prevent conflict-related sexual
violence and are held accountable if they perpetrate sexual exploitation and
Supporting Women’s Leadership Globally. Women’s political and civic
leadership promotes equality and stability. When women
are represented in parliaments, their participation is associated with a
decreased risk of civil war and
fewer human rights abuses.
Around the world, women are more likely to advocate for policies on issues
like education and health,
which promote the well-being of everyone. Yet, only 4 out of 193 countries have
at least 50 percent women in the national legislature. A Biden Administration
will amplify and elevate the voices of authentic, local women leaders globally,
creating an initiative to strengthen the influence of women-led civil society
organizations in advancing women’s and girls’ well-being; combating
gender-based violence; and promoting peace, security, and prosperity.
Furthermore, recognizing the benefits to equality and stability when women are
represented in political office, the Biden administration will break down
barriers to women’s political empowerment, supporting civic education and
leadership development for women and girls around the world.
Pursue Ratification for the U.N. Convention on the Elimination of all forms
of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). For nearly 40 years, CEDAW
has been the most important international vehicle for advancing gender
equality. It is simply embarrassing that the United States has not ratified the
convention. We are in the company of some of the most oppressive countries in
the world, including Iran, Sudan, and Somalia. From the very beginning, the
Obama-Biden Administration made ratifying this U.N. convention a priority. As
president, Biden will continue to push the Senate to ratify this important
treaty, so that we can better advance the rights of women and girls here at
home and around the world.
Ensuring Gender Parity and Diversity in National Security
Appointments. To keep our nation safe and effectively advance our
national security interests, our government needs the best possible team of
national security professionals. That means developing senior leadership teams
that are diverse, by elevating more women into senior national security
positions and ensuring that women of color are well represented in senior
ranks. Women are underrepresented in our national security establishment, and
throughout the federal government their levels of representation are decreasing. 4 of the 23 positions in
Trump’s Cabinet are currently held by women. Joe Biden has pledged that, as
president, he will “strive for gender parity in senior national security and
foreign policy appointments.”
The Women’s Marches that took place across the country – some 250 of them including Washington DC and New York City – are the opening salvo to the 2020 Election. Make no mistake, this was about voting, realizing that all the issues that they care about hinge on the coming election and not on changing the minds of lawmakers who currently control the levers of power: reproductive freedom and a woman’s right to self-determination; access to the ballot and access to health care; climate action and environmental justice; gun safety and domestic violence; gender equity, sexism and misogyny; discrimination and sexual harassment; immigration reform and human rights. They are all on the ballot this November.
And the Supreme Court and all the courts now
dominated by radical right-wing judges that seek to roll back women’s rights,
civil rights, voting rights, health-care-is-a-human-right. “Ruth Bader
Ginsburg, hold on,” Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer declared as the
march set off down Columbus Avenue, passed the Trump International Hotel, where
the most animated expressions of outrage against Trump and his administration
A singular, unifying message emerged: Dump Trump and
his henchmen and his enablers.
And a theme for the New York City march organized by Women’s March Alliance (womensmarchalliance.org): Rise & Roar.
Though it is unlikely that women will re-create the 750,000 who marched on Washington with millions more around the world who turned out in 2017 in the largest single day of protest in history, vastly outnumbering those who came out the day before on the National Mall to watch Trump swear to uphold the Constitution and protect the nation against enemies foreign and domestic, it is crucial that people turn out for the women’s marches in Washington, DC (Meet at Freedom Plaza, 1455 Pennsylvania Ave. at 10 am, womensmarch.com), New York City (at Central Park West & 72nd Street, 11 am, womensmarchalliance.org) and many other cities in 2020, taking place on Saturday, January 18.
The disappointing reality after that
first spectacular Women’s March is how little it accomplished. Lawmakers could
care less, based on the policies they enacted, including moving so close to
repealing Obamacare except for Senator McCain’s last-second vote, and tax
policy that discriminated against women’s health, and shifted $1 trillion in
resources from infrastructure and services for everyday Americans to the
richest 1% and corporations. They could care less for the hundreds of
thousands who pleaded for sensible gun laws, or for climate action and
There isn’t even the same buzz as in
the 2018 march in Washington and around the country (200,000 attended in New York City,
alone) , so much more significant because the protest was less about
“converting” lawmakers than mobilizing voter registration, inspiring
women to run for elected office, and driving turnout in the November mid-terms.
And they did in historic numbers, putting Democrats back in control of
the House which put the brakes to the extent possible on the worst impulses of
Trump and the Republicans. “I can do whatever I want as president,” Trump
declared at a Turning Point event with young Republicans. (After the House
Republican majority’s first success in repealing Obamacare in 2017, Trump said,
‘I’m president. Can you believe it?”)
In 2019, tens of thousands
marched in New York City, calling for action on a Woman’s Agenda
that encompasses everything from pay parity, paid parental leave, affordable
child care and pre-K to immigration reform, gun violence prevention, climate
action, criminal justice reform – in other words, the gamut of social,
political, environmental and economic justice. And yes, reproductive freedom.
During 2019, which opened with Trump
declaring a “national emergency” to justify shutting down the federal
government in order to extort billions to build his wall, migrants continued to
be separated and die in custody, thousands were sent to horrific and dangerous
conditions in Mexico; gun violence reached new heights; climate disasters have
exploded around the globe; and reproductive freedom has been further
600,000 women lost birth control
coverage last year because of the Trump Administration’s attacks on your
healthcare; funding for women’s health clinics has been eliminated and
artificial barriers to their operation have forced many to close. The Hyde
Amendment which bans the use of federal funds to pay for abortions, serves as a
de facto ban for a quarter of low-income women.
Even more is at stake in 2020, when
Trump and Trumpism is on the ballot. Over this first term, he has been
increasingly emboldened and unbridled, to the point where he believes he can
unleash a war while schmoozing on the golf course.
So far, the organizers of this
Saturday’s Women’s March on Washington, took out a permit for 10,000.
The women’s movement, inexplicably
and yet probably not, has gotten wound up, bogged down and even subverted with
other issues – racism, anti-Semitism. Leaders are bending over backwards to
show how progressive, how inclusive they are, and moving away from the key
issues that women are fighting for.
Women’s issues wind up being about
all these other issues because all of them affect women’s ability to have equal
opportunity, earn what they deserve in order to provide for their families: war
and peace, climate change, living wage, public education, health care,
affordable pharmaceuticals, clean air and water, voting rights, gun safety,
DACA and immigration reform.
But at the heart of all of them is
women’s reproductive rights, under threat as never before by a radical
right-wingers in Congress and on the courts determined to disregard law and
precedent and overturn Roe v Wade (along with Obamacare) with a Supreme Court
that has been shifted radically right because of the illegitimate appointments
secured by Trump and Senate Majority Mitch McConnell (along with hundreds of
judges throughout the federal court system that are long-lasting bombs to
womens rights and civil rights.
The Roe v Wade decision in 1973
ruled that the Constitution protects a pregnant woman’s liberty to choose to
have an abortion without excessive government restriction – in other words, it
was built upon some extrapolation of privacy and property rights, rather than
Overturning Roe v Wade would mean
that women, unlike men, are not entitled to the same right to
self-determination, to make their own judgments and choices for their health,
their body, their family or their lives. And like all those other cases that
Ginsburg argued as the leading gender rights lawyer for the ACLU before
becoming Supreme Court Justice, it would re-establish the systemic barriers to
women (not men) to fulfill all their aspirations and abilities. It is as
Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democratic candidate for president, said, when women
are forced out of the career track, they never get back to where they were if
they return at all. This I s the result of unaffordable, inaccessible quality
child care and the lack of universal pre-K.
It would essentially make women a subject
of the state, forced to give up professional aspirations to care for a child,
or spend inordinate amounts of money and resources on child care, put women
into poverty because all of these social services are also being tied to work
while doing nothing to make childcare affordable, taking away food stamps and
school lunch. It’s not one thing, it’s many different elements.
As Justice Ginsburg said, “The
decision whether or not to bear a child is central to a woman’s life, to her
well-being and dignity. It is a decision she must make for herself. When the
government controls that decision for her, she is being treated as less than a
fully adult human responsible for her own choices.”
And the Supreme Court decision would
not necessarily mean that the state you live in would determine if you might
have access to abortion, which would set up a different category of unequal
protection – their ruling could make abortion illegal nationwide by
establishing “personhood” rights of a fetus, in which case the fetus would have
more rights than its mother.
Women are marching for affordable
child care, quality public education, affordable and accessible health care
without higher cost for women or for pre-existing conditions (which before
Obamacare rendered women of child-bearing age), or lifetime caps on coverage at
a time when middle class families are spending 20% of income ($12,000/year) on
health insurance, 35 million can’t afford life saving drugs they are
prescribed, 30,000 die prematurely because of lack of access to health care,
and 500,000 go bankrupt because of medical bills.
Women are marching for environmental
justice at a time when the Trump Administration is making it easy for polluters
to destroy the air and water producing creating public health issues such as
asthma affecting a child’s ability to succeed in school, and worker
productivity. It means climate justice at a time when the Trump Administration
is actually prosecuting those who would try to reduce carbon emissions (they
are trying to prosecute the four auto manufacturers who said they would comply
with California’s emissions standards for anti-trust violations), while
families are losing their homes, their workplaces and communities have to spend
fortune to rebuild after climate disasters.
Women are marching for gun safety so
that parents and children don’t have the constant anxiety and school districts
and communities don’t have to spend a fortune on security rather than programs
that benefit people.
This year’s march may be the most
important one, just as the 2020 election is the most important one of our
lifetimes (and yes, 2016, as we now know, was the most important election up
until this one).
The march is an affirmation, brings
like-minded people together, validates our case, and yes, motivates and
provides a platform for people to run for office, as in 2018, and win their
The march is not about “them” it is
That is why it is so very important
to have a strong turnout for this year’s marches, the fourth year in a row,
especially in 2020, the centennial of women winning the right to vote,
especially in this election year when the nation faces an existential threat
from its own government. Women must turn out, and continue the momentum
of 2018 into the 2020 election.
Virginia could be the 38th
state to pass the Equal Rights Amendment, which would make the ERA the 28th
amendment to the Constitution, though the opponents argue that the votes by the
other 37 states have expired, and we’ll have to go through this entire 60-year
process all over again. (Trump’s
The opponents argue there is no
reason for an amendment that certifies the equal rights of all people. But
based on the policies, laws and lawsuits at the federal and state level, an ERA
is more necessary than ever, because as we have seen from the Supreme Court,
precedents like Roe v Wade and one-person, one-vote, or equal protection for
all are fungible.
This is a crucial year for women to
turn out, not allow the momentum of 2018 to be lost, but rev up for the 2020 election.
So whip out those pink pussy hats
and march for women’s rights on Saturday, January 18. March as if your ability
to determine your own future is at stake.
It was a day to celebrate grit, determination, perseverance
and pure excellence, as tens of thousands turned out to cheer the United States
Women’s National Team on their 2019 World Cup victory as they floated through Lower
Manhattan’s “Canyon of Heroes,” the second of the team’s ticker-tape parades,
with the first only 2015. Notably, the vast majority of parade watchers were
mothers and daughters. They held signs thanking the team for being such
wonderful role models, and signs that called for Equal Pay.
Tens of thousands took to the streets of New York City on Saturday, January 19, 2019 for the third annual Women’s March organized by the Women’s March Alliance, calling for action on a Woman’s Agenda that encompasses everything from pay parity, paid parental leave and reproductive freedom, to immigration reform, gun violence prevention, climate action, criminal justice reform – in other words, the gamut of social, political, environmental and economic justice. (See also With Cry of ‘Your Voice Your Power,’ Alliance Mounts 3rd Annual Women’s March on NYC Jan. 19)
The marchers got particularly animated outside of
Trump Tower Hotel on Central Park West, chanting “Shame, Shame, Shame,”
extending a finger, and waving placards calling for “Indict, Impeach, Imprison.”
The protesters use their bodies as message boards. Here are highlights:
Women’s March Alliance, the official organizer of the March on NYC since 2017, will stage its third annual march on Saturday, January 19. Line up begins at 10 a.m. with the march kicking off at 11 a.m. on 61st Street and Central Park West (main entrance on 72nd and Columbus). The march, which is expected to draw 100,000 participants, will run along Central Park West south around Columbus Circle, east on 59th Street then south on 6th Avenue.
The theme for this year’s Woman’s March, taking place in New York City on Saturday Jan 19, could well be “I am woman. Hear me roar,” especially after the dramatic successes culminating in the 2018 elections that saw a record number of women running for office and elected – women now one-fourth of Congress, and there are four more women governors.
And in New York, the
successful takeover of the Senate gives new hope for a progressive agenda,
topped with the Women’s Reproductive Health Act.
But the Women’s March
Alliance organizers worry that sheer exhaustion and complacency might rightly
set in after all that happened to produce the success of 2018, but that there still so much work to be
done, not the least is: Now you have heard our roar, act.
“We want to make sure we don’t
stop fighting. We are half way there. We can’t stop now. We have to move
forward,” said Katherine Siemionko, founder and president of Women’s March
Alliance. “The theme for the march
is ‘Your Voice Your Power.’ We have seen what happened in 2018 Elections. New York cannot stand back. New
York leads nation in progress.” (The actual hashtag for the march is #YourVoiceYourPower)
Indeed, that there is still
so much work to be done is reflected in the cavalier attitude Trump and
Republicans have to shutting down government, with no clue and no care of the
ramifications on women and families that go beyond withholding pay to 800,000
federal workers as well as contractors,from food safety to food stamps, from
mortgages to small business loans, from housing vouchers to veterans benefits. They
even stood by while the Violence Against Women Act expired.
And then there is the
unbelievable cruelty being inflicted on millions of families across the nation
who may have an undocumented immigrant among them but American citizen spouse
or children, or the four million Dreamers whose lives are in limbo. Think of
the desperate migrants as the Trump Administration tries to overturn domestic
violence and gang violence as a basis for asylum; the forced separation of
families; the families of tens of thousands of migrants and refugees here for
decades under Temporary Protected Status who have been told they will be
deported. Think of the families ripped apart. That’s a woman’s issue, too.
Now Trump is threatening
to declare a national emergency in order to take funds allocated for rebuilding
communities devastated by climate disasters in Puerto Rico afflicted by Maria,
in California after the wildfires, in Florida and South Carolina after Michael.
And then there is the humanitarian crisis created by Trump’s anti-immigrant
policy that has led to two children dying while in US custody, and hundreds of
children rendered orphans, thousands more traumatized by their condition.
But this is New York
State, and thankfully, there is finally full control by Democrats. On January
22, the 46th anniversary of Roe v Wade, the State Legislature is
expected to pass the Reproductive Health Act, strengthening abortion access by
codifying the principles of Roe v. Wade in state law, after 12
years of trying but failing. But this action cannot be taken for granted. There
is still need to push the politicians to act –and not take such landmark for
This is no time to be
complacent – the regressive forces are not complacent, they are seizing the opportunity of a hard-religious right
majority on the Supreme Court, to push through personhood amendments that
essentially give more rights to a fetus than the mother carrying it. Women have
actually been prosecuted for miscarrying and such laws could be applied to
punish women for behaviors that are deemed harmful to a fetus. Essentially,
women would become slaves of the state, not considered entitled to the same
right of self-determination as a man. Big Brother doesn’t begin to describe
So this year’s march has
its own urgency: to cement and recommit, to make sure that the electeds carry
out what could be called a woman’s agenda but encompasses so much because women’s
issues are so broad.
Here’s a partial list:
gun violence prevention, universal health care, universal pre-K, affordable
college, climate action and environmental justice, immigration reform, pay
equity, parental leave, criminal justice reform… Way too many to fit into a
soundbite, a poster or a tweet.
But if you still need a
motivation, consider this: the 2020 presidential election is already underway,
and the way women candidates for office are once again being evaluated
according to a different standard (“likeability,” “shrill”).
The danger of
complacency needs to be recalled: that’s what happened in 2016, when too many believed
that Hillary Clinton becoming the first woman to head a major party ticket
meant that America had entered a post-feminist era, just as Obama’s election
was supposedly a post-racist era. Okay to stay home out of some manufactured
outrage, just because you could; okay to throw a vote away on an independent
candidate, because of course the most qualified candidate, who stood for gender
rights, civil rights, criminal justice, environmental justice, economic
justice, would win. We saw how that went.
The march, which will
include opportunities to register to vote (and local elections in 2019 are
important), is a call to action to get things done while we have the
“honeymoon” of the new electeds and the fear of God in the incumbents – because
they think they can do anything they want and ignore the voices of 2018 because
the electorate won’t remember in 2020.
It is important, as
well, to keep the networks and the alliances intact, for the affirmation and
validation that the marchers give to one another. And because 2020 is right
around the corner.
Indeed, the greatest
threat to the Women’s movement is complacency (and fatigue) after the hard-won
victories of 2018.
“We must be fearful that
people have become comfortable, because that’s what happened in 2016 – we were
the popular vote, we still are the popular vote, we don’t want to get
comfortable and let the crazy seem like the status quo & normal,” said
Freedom Shannon, a member of the board of WMA which describes itself as “a nonprofit alliance of human rights
supporters who seek to close the social, political and economic gender divide.”
“We are changing what it
means to be a woman in our society. We have marched to being one in five in Congress,
but we need to come out January 19 to honor those who have come before us, to
show those in countries that cannot assemble, what democracy looks like, and
pave the way for future generations,” Shannon said. “On January 19, we will unify our voices so we amplify enough to be
heard by the people in power and soften their hearts so they can act without
The organizers at a
press conference introducing the event stressed that WMA is completely separate
from Womens March Inc. which organized the Washington March in 2017 and is
holding a rally in New York City also on January 19. That organization raised
controversy of being anti-Semitic when leaders expressed support for Louis
Siemionko noted “We
are a local grassroots team of volunteers hosting this event for the third year
in a row, and we do not have nor have we ever had an association with Women’s
March, Inc. or its founders.”
She continued, “Our mission is to include and advance women regardless of
faith, sexual identity and preference, race, cultural and religious background
or political affiliation.”
Siemionko was firm on
insisting that WMA is inclusive, and that like all the other sister marches
that took place in 2017 and 2018 in cities across the nation, all grew
organically, as local grassroots organizations reflecting their communities.
She stressed how WMA
went out of its way to accommodate the Jewish community, including organizing
the march so it would start within walking distance of a large segment of the community
on the Upper West Side. “We wanted to honor those Jews who want to honor Sabbath without taking public
transportation, but can march to support women’s rights.” In addition,
Siemionko will be participating in a panel on January 17 at the Stephen Wise
“The confusion happened
when Womens March Inc, the official march of DC, decided to break ground here
in NYC. Unfortunately that happened at time when irresponsible wording was used
to insult different communities.
“One of the reasons we
became part of WMA since its inception is that anti-Semitism, racial discrimination,
LGBT discrimination had no place here, especially in New York City, the most
diverse place in the nation, in the world,” said Debra Dixon Anderson, director
of operations of the New York City Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and a WMA board
member, “and we appreciate all different walks of life.”
WMA is the only
organization that has a permit from New York City for a march on January 19.
Enter at 72nd
Street to Central Park West, or enter from Central Park. There will be a
15-minute kickoff at 11 am (not a rally), then the march will get underway at
11:15, go south past Columbus Circle, east on 59, then south to 44 Street.
Check the site for details.
There will be a female Indian chief to bless the march, female drum bands, brass bands, acrobats, DJs, and activists.
In conjunction with
the event, people will have a chance to see “Eyes of the World,” a giant, collaborative mosaic, 5 ft tall and
18 feet wide, produced by thousands of contributors since the first Women’s
March on New York City in 2017. that is on view at the Newburger Gallery in the
lobby of SUNY Optometry (33 West 42nd Street), across from Bryant
Park, noon to 9 pm.
“’Eyes of the World’ is
a tangible and permanent reminder to the United States government that our eyes
are constantly watching to ensure all policies embody human rights, advance
civil rights, and promote the highest degree of equality,” write Joanne and
Bruce Hunter, artists and creators of public art.
The message of the 2019 Women’s March should be: We won. Now act.
The Women’s March the day after Trump’s Inauguration in January 2017, in Washington and across America, was the largest day of protest in American history; subsequent protests throughout his tenure – for climate action, gun reform, immigrants – have also been massive.
The Women’s Movement has been rekindled with the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation to the Supreme Court.
Trump has signaled he has had enough of protest. He prefers what Putin and Kim Jong-un have: a way of suppressing all opposition, be it a free press or protest.
It filters down from Trump (or from Fox to Trump) to the Republican talking heads eerily mimicking the same phrases and charge: the protesters were paid by George Soros (versus the astroturf Tea Partyers literally paid by Koch Brothers). We can’t have “mob rule.” We must uphold the “Rule of Law” – a laughably ironic statement coming from this mobster-in-chief, whose kinship with Kavanaugh – credibly accused of sexual assault, and now vulnerable, as Trump is, to blackmail – is cemented by Kavanaugh’s promise to shield Trump from investigation or indictment, and his pronounced threat against the “conspiracy” of liberals, Democrats and Clinton supporters. “What goes around, comes around,” the pretender “umpire calling strikes and balls,” menaced.
It is yet another example of Trump (and Republicans) accusing opponents of the criminality they themselves commit – “Rigged election.” “Politicized FBI.” “Pay to Play” (Lock her up!). Voter Fraud (a red-herring to justify Voter Suppression). And the most laughable: accusing Democrats of “unprecedented” obstruction, as if being a Democrat means you are a persona non grata in Trump’s America.
Trump has used this technique to intimidate Democrats from questioning the 2016 Election, accused Democrats of obstructing his agenda and appointments (while also boasting he has gotten a record number of judges appointed), and basically ignoring the majority of Americans in this supposed democracy on everything from gun reform to environmental protection to health care.
He has used his words to raise suspicion and discredit the Mueller investigation, about the FBI and CIA intelligence, about the New York Times and Washington Post’s investigations into campaign finance activity and now the tax evasion (and fraud) that enabled him and his family to cheat the American people out of $500 million. Now he expects this technique to either shut down protest or discredit whatever investigations and reports emerge.
Trump has been playing the “victim” card that he attacks women for: Oh pity the poor, aggrieved white men who need to fear being held to account for wrong-doing. Can’t have that.
He has attacked Senate Democrats who were doing their due diligence in investigating Kavanaugh’s fitness (unfitness) for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court attacking them as “evil,” and accusing them of “con” (that’s really rich).
“Honestly, it’s a very dangerous period in our country,” Trump said at the New York City press conference, just ahead of the Kavanaugh vote. “And it’s being perpetrated by some very evil people. Some of them are Democrats, I must say. Because some of them know that this is just a game that they’re playing. It’s a con game. It’s at the highest level. We’re talking about the United States Supreme Court.”
He is desperate to use Kavanaugh to turn out his voters because he fears a Blue Wave will result in investigations, actual oversight and maybe even impeachment if Democrats get a majority in Congress. So he manufactures a message of aggrievement, of discrediting victims of sexual violence, which is a form of subjugation
More menacingly, he is signaling that he will summon the forces of the state to suppress opposition.
I watched as dozens of protesters on the Capitol steps arrested (300 on Thursday, 124 on Saturday) while Kavanaugh was ultimately confirmed with the smallest number of votes ever, a mere 50. Nearly 300 had been arrested on Thursday, after the sham FBI report was “released” using a level of secrecy that Trump did not see fit to use to protect the Russian investigation’s sources, methods and lives. You would think the arrests contradicted the Constitution’s protection of the right to assemble and petition our government.
How does exercising the Constitutional right to assemble and petition our government warrant arrest? But in Trump’s America, can’t have that.
Kavanaugh becomes one of four sitting Supreme Court Justices named by presidents (George W. Bush and Trump) who lost the popular vote; meanwhile, those 50 Senators who confirmed Kavanaugh represent about 40% of Americans but now, those Justices have the majority to control the lives of millions of people for generations to come.
So a minority is exerting its tyranny over the majority – taking over each and every one of its institutions, the White House, the Congress and now the Supreme Court (and all the other lesser courts).
So people are taking to the streets. And Trump can’t have that.
This faux “Law and Order” Putin-wannabe is signaling with his use of terms like “mob rule” and screams that protest somehow violates the “Rule of Law” (as opposed to his own evasion of accountability for sexual assault, tax evasion, campaign finance violations, conspiracy with a foreign adversary to steal the election) that he will call out enforcement to shut down protest. In his mind, even not applauding his State of the Union is tantamount to treason.
He will use all the tools and powers at his command, including whatever is possible to suppress the vote, under the guise of preventing voter fraud, or just impeding access to the polls.
Techniques the Republicans have used effectively include locating polling places so they are less accessible to certain voters, purging voter lists, challenging voter IDs if the name isn’t exact (an excellent technique to prevent women from voting); limiting hours, having employers refuse to give time off (or pay) to go vote, having too few voting machines, forcing people to stand on line for hours, then shutting the doors when time’s up, and even having thugs stand outside. Wouldn’t put it past them to set up road blocks.
This actually has happened where those entrusted with enforcing the law does the bidding of those wielding political power.
At the New-York Historical Society, there is a chilling exhibit, “Black Citizenship in the Age of Jim Crow,” a punch-to-the-gut examination of how the Emancipation Proclamation, Civil War, and most significantly, Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, led to an institutionalized system of terror and subjugation of African Americans. This included the complicity of the Supreme Court which issued decisions dating back to Dred Scott, that perpetuated subjugation.
The 1857 Dred Scott case ruled that though Scott was in territory that did not have slavery, Scott had no right to sue because he was not a US citizen, and no black person, free or slave, could be a US citizen. (This was overturned with the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection clause that covered any person in the US, which is why undocumented immigrants also have rights under the Constitution). :“All persons born or naturalized in the United States…are citizens of the United States…No State shall…deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”)
Nonetheless, the Supreme Court for a century was complicit in systemic subjugation of blacks, minorities, immigrants and women.
Despite the 15th Amendment guarantee of voting rights (“The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color or previous condition of servitude”) states which had allowed non-propertied white men to vote in 1828 (where is the Constitutional amendment for that?), now passed laws restricting voting only to white men, which the Supreme Court did not overturn.
After Congress, in 1875, passed a civil rights act banning discrimination in public places, the Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional in 1883.
In 1882, the federal government passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, restricting Chinese immigration and prohibiting the courts from naturalizing Chinese as citizens. (No doubt, Kavanaugh will raise this as “precedent” for backing a Muslim Travel Ban.)
In 1884, The Supreme Court ruled that the 14th and 15th amendments do not grant citizenship to Native Americans. (Today, new Voter ID laws could limit access to polls by Native Americans in North Dakota and Trump’s Justice Department is no longer prosecuting voting rights abuses.)
In 1890, as Mississippi and other southern states formalized disenfranchisement of African Americans, the Supreme Court upheld them because voting restrictions did not specifically mention “race.”
In 1896, the Supreme Court ruled in Plessy v Ferguson that it’s A-OK for segregated facilities to be “separate, but equal.”
Meanwhile, the Ku Klux Klan was rising, terrorizing Blacks, especially those who sought to run for political office. Blacks were lynched for nothing more than being accused of looking at a white woman (making Trump’s faux victimization of white men credibly accused of sexual assault even more absurd). More than 4,000 African Americans were publically lynched from 1877 to the 1950s, in a great many cases, aided and abetted by local police.
Interestingly, anti-lynching efforts were led by women’s organizations, and an anti-lynching bill was put forward in 1937, though none got passed the filibusters of the southern Dixiecrats.
Just as today, the Ku Klux Klan and White Supremacists used the guise of righteous “glory be to God” to subjugate, terrorize and retain power.
Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell went nuclear in overturning the filibuster, even as the United States’ gap in populations of large and small states mushroomed from the time of the Founders’ compromise that gave each state, large and small, two senators each. Wyoming with a population of 579,000 has equal voting power to California with 40 million. A similar imbalance in the Electoral College shows the fraud of “one-person, one vote” (a Wyoming voter has 4 times the weight of a Californian), and the lie to the Republicans’ false flag of “voter fraud” to justify its voter suppression. The majority no longer rules, not in the White House, not in the House, where gerrymandering entrenches the minority Republican party, not in the Senate and not in the Supreme Court.
As for that ridiculous assertion by Senator Susan Collins of Maine that a PAC accumulating money to use against her reelection in 2020 was akin to bribery? What a joke, since the pro-Kavanaugh right-wing groups, led by the Judicial Crisis Center, spent $7 million on its campaign to get Kavanaugh confirmed. The imbalance in campaign spending, thanks to the Scalia Supreme Court’s Citizen United decision, has given special interests ownership of politicians and policy. Glad to hear Collins is upset about that, but I doubt she will do anything about it.
This Kavanaugh battle has illustrated a number of things: Might makes right. Power begets power. Women who have been assaulted or harassed will get no justice. There’s no such thing as “No man is above the law” which means that there is no actual “Rule of Law.”
Women’s rights activists. Gun Rights Activists. Climate Activists. Workers Rights activists, Immigrant Rights activists cannot be cowed. Yes, it is crucial to turn out and vote in these midterms – and it will take a Blue Wave of more than 60% just to get to 51% majority in Congress. But if the Republicans are able to keep control with all the levers and advantages of using power to keep power (gerrymandering, voter suppression, campaign spending, propaganda and outright election hacking), then those peaceful protests protected under the Constitution may in fact turn into an angry mob of unleashed frustration and victimization.
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo was joined today by Nassau County leaders at a rally in New Hyde Park to fight to protect women’s reproductive rights. State and local leaders called on the Senate to return to Albany to codify Roe v. Wade into New York State Law. The rally follows the federal government’s decision Monday night to nominate Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. The Governor vowed to take action to defend New York’s progressive values against the extreme conservative agenda of the Trump Administration, including the fight to codify the protections of Roe v. Wade into state law. New actions were also announced by the Governor on Monday to protect reproductive rights in anticipation of this Supreme Court Justice nomination.
“This federal government is threatening basic values New York and this entire nation were built upon, and while extreme conservatives in Washington make destructive decisions that violate the rights of our residents, New York is fighting to protect the progressive accomplishments that we have made,” Governor Cuomo said.“I call on every Senate Republican to come back and reconvene in Albany – no excuses. The Assembly will support codification of Roe v. Wade, I will sign the bill, the Senate Democrats will vote in favor of it and we will pass Roe v. Wade for New York.”
Noting that elections have consequences, Cuomo laid out the challenge to return to Albany to codify Roe into state law as a line in the sand.
“When you’re talking to our friends the Republican Senators, remind them in 1970, before Roe v. Wade, which was 1973, this state legalized abortion. 1970. With a Republican Senate and a Republican Governor because we understood it wasn’t a partisan issue, it was a fairness issue. It was a health issue. It was an equality issue. It was a woman being able to control her own body issue. We did it in 1970, don’t tell me in 2018 the Republican Senate is going to go backwards from 1970. We have to call to question. Elections have consequences and this is binary. They’re with us, they’re against us. And if they don’t come back, if they don’t codify Roe v. Wade, you know what we’re going to say?
“In the immortal words of President Trump, to the senators who won’t come back and sign a bill, you’re fired. We’re protecting the women in the state of New York. Women’s rights come first. Let’s sign the state Executive Order.”
Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul who attended a similar rally to protective reproductive rights with Governor Cuomo in Yonkers earlier, said, “I lost my seat in Congress over my steadfast support of the Affordable Care Act and the contraception mandate, and I know how critically important it is to protect these rights at the state level. That is why I stand with the Governor and the women of this great state in fighting back to ensure protections and safety for women when it comes to their reproductive health. Given all that is happening in Washington, these actions will protect women’s reproductive rights. As President of the State Senate, I’m also calling on Senate Republican leadership to protect the women of this state and pass the Reproductive Health Act and codify Roe v. Wade. No one should tell us what to do with our bodies. Not now, not ever.”
For years, Governor Cuomo has pushed to codify the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision and subsequent rulings into state law to secure women’s access to reproductive health options, and noted that Republicans made a pretense of supporting women’s rights but blocked any consideration on the floor based on the federal protection under Roe. Now the Governor is calling their bluff and calling for the passage of legislation to protect the right of women to make personal health care decisions and ensure that health care professionals can provide these crucial services without fear of criminal penalty. The Assembly has passed legislation to codify the protections of Roe v. Wade for the last six years, including during the 2018 Legislative Session.
Additionally, through regulations by the Department of Financial Services and Department of Health, as directed by the Governor on Monday, New York State will ensure an insurer must cover over the counter emergency contraception in addition to all other contraceptive drugs, devices or other products for women approved by the Federal Food and Drug Administration and, as well as the dispensing of 12 months of contraceptive at one time, all without co-insurance, co-pays or deductibles. The Executive Order signed by the Governor on Monday, in addition to today’s rally, builds on Governor Cuomo’s 2018 Women’s Agenda: Equal Rights, Equal Opportunity.
The updated DFS regulation mandates that health insurers:
Expand coverage requirements for contraceptive drugs, devices or other products for women approved by the Federal Food and Drug Administration. Require coverage for emergency contraception with no cost sharing when acquired in any lawful manner including on an over the counter basis from an out of network pharmacy;
Permit a woman to fill 12 months of a prescribed contraceptive at one time, removing the previously required three-month trial period;
Cover voluntary sterilization procedures for women and over-the-counter contraceptives without cost-sharing; and
Do not place restrictions or delays on contraceptive coverage not otherwise authorized under the regulation. This provision would prohibit quantity limits and other such restrictions.
The regulation codifies guidance issued in January 2017 regarding information that must be provided in formularies regarding contraceptives, including noting which contraceptives are covered without cost-sharing. Insurers will be required to publish an easily accessible, up-to-date, accurate and complete list of all covered contraceptive drugs, devices and other products on their formulary drug lists, including any tiering structure and any restrictions on the manner in which a drug may be obtained.
The accompanying DOH regulations permit a woman insured through Medicaid to fill 12 months of a prescribed contraceptive at one time, whereas previously, the limit was three months.
A copy of the proposed regulations can be found here.
“Women’s rights are under attack. Another Trump-appointed Justice will guarantee an ultra-conservative Court that is even more hostile to women’s health care protections. This will have dire consequences if we don’t act because New York decriminalized abortion before the Roe v. Wade decision,” Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said. “The women of New York State are looking to us to protect their hard-won rights, and we must not fail them.”
“The administration in Washington is preparing yet another assault on women’s reproductive rights with the nomination of an ultra-conservative Supreme Court justice. Earlier this year, and in countless previous legislative sessions, the New York State Assembly passed legislation to codify Roe v. Wade,” Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said. “Year after year, our Republican colleagues in the Senate neglect to pass this legislation, insisting there is no threat to Roe v. Wade. Their inaction has shamefully put women’s reproductive health care in jeopardy. It’s time to codify Roe v. Wade. No more excuses.”
“The Trump Administration is committed to ensuring that millions of women across America lose essential access to the health care they absolutely require. We are facing an unprecedented attack on our health care, and rights by a federal government determined to replace evidence-based medically accurate public policy with politically driven ideology,” Robin Chappelle Golston, President & CEO, Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts, said. “Governor Cuomo is standing up today to remind the nation that New York won’t go backwards; we won’t sit back quietly as our rights evaporate and we will resist this dismantling of our constitutionally protected rights.”
“Armed with a Supreme Court vacancy, the Trump regime is poised to pack the court in an effort to undo Roe v. Wade and curtail abortion to an extent not seen since 1973. New York can no longer put off fixing our state’s broken abortion law,” New York Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Donna Lieberman said. “The Reproductive Health Act would take abortion out of the criminal code so that New York can be a safe-haven where women and their health are valued and protected. That means codifying Roe and ensuring access to the information and services women — including pregnant women — need to protect their health.”
Andrea Miller, President of the National Institute for Reproductive Health said, “Governor Cuomo’s executive order today proves that, regardless of what happens at the federal level, states have tremendous power to shape their own state laws and can act now to protect women from the full-blown assault on their reproductive health and rights. The best defense against a hostile Supreme Court and Trump-Pence Administration is a strong state-level offense. States around the country should take note of this action – and Governor Cuomo’s previous regulations – and help lead the movement for reproductive freedom from the ground up.”
Cuomo Draws Line in the Sand for State Republican Lawmakers
Cuomo said that with the Trump administration dismantling rights – civil rights, voting rights, environmental and financial protections, a woman’s right to choose – it is up to the states to take action.
“Every day this federal government does something that is shocking to our senses…It’s shocking to us in New York because we are the exact opposite. We’re night and day from who they are and what they believe so we’re continually in a state of shock, but they are doing what they said they were going to do, and elections have consequences.
“And it is a wake-up call to all of us. My daughters, you know if you’re 21, 22, 23, young women you never even questioned your reproductive rights. You grew up in a generation where you just assumed, you know Roe v. Wade was 1973. 1973. Generations just grew up assuming this was the way it was. Couldn’t even imagine that a woman wouldn’t have the right to control her own body. That’s what they are saying. And they are serious. And it’s not just politics and this isn’t just a game. They are doing it. They’re doing what they said they would do
“They have their own view of what religions are right and what lifestyles are right and what sexuality is right and who should be an American and who shouldn’t be an American, and they are going to enforce that. It’s the greatest act of political hypocrisy, because conservatives used to stand for limited government, right? Less federal government. Leave it to the states, leave it to the individual rights.
“They are on track to overturn Roe v. Wade. That’s what they want to do. That’s what they’ve wanted to do since it was passed in 1973. And it is a shock to the system. How could we possible go back to those days? Who even remembers what it was like before, when a woman couldn’t have an abortion? How many lost their lives, were damaged because of what they had to do in that situation? And that is what we’re looking at. They are pro-life.
“They also have their view of sexuality and they don’t agree with the LGBTQ community and that’s why they treat them as second-class citizens. Wanted to keep transgender out of the military, regardless of service, regardless of merits. They believe who should be an immigrant and who shouldn’t be an immigrant. A little hypocritical since we’re all immigrants, but they now decide they’re going to close the door. The separation of family policy – isn’t that a coincidence? They knew exactly what they were doing. They wanted to stop people at the border. The first point was, build a wall. I am going to build a big wall, nobody can come. The President didn’t get a wall so he went to the “zero tolerance” policy. And now what he says to families is, if you show up, I’m going to take your children from you and send them to a place where you don’t even know where they are. He knew exactly what he was doing. It was a deterrent to stop people from coming when he couldn’t get the wall.
“They’re going to tell you which religion is right. They don’t believe that Muslims are an appropriate religion, and that’s the travel ban. They don’t believe with labor unions. Thank God for the teamsters. They don’t want labor unions. They just passed the Janus decision with the Supreme Court because they don’t want these annoying unions being able to organize employees, making it harder for management to negotiate with the workforce. It’s who they are and what they said they were going to do. And it is a frightening reality.
“We believe the opposite and it’s incumbent on us to act. To act. We’re not going to let them change our values. We’re not going to let them change or philosophy. We’re not going to let them change the way we treat one another. We’re not going to let them change our tolerance to intolerance. We’re not going to allow them to divide us. They’re not going to pick who has the right lifestyle and who has the right religion and who has the right sexuality and who has the right income level to deserve respect. We’re not going to let them do that.
“Federal government has rights, but you know what there was before the federal government? There were state governments and there were states’ rights. And states have the ability to stand up and act. And when they wouldn’t do anything in the face of the #MeToo movement, this state stood up and said, we’re going to pass the strongest anti-sexual harassment law in the United States of America. When they separated families at the border, this state stood up and said, that’s unconstitutional, it’s illegal, it violates due process, and we’re suing the federal government to put those families back together and to stop the separation.
“And we have to do the same thing on the issue of choice. They are going to overturn Roe v. Wade. We need a New York State law that codifies Roe v. Wade into the New York State law. And we need that law in place before they overturn Roe v. Wade in the Supreme Court. Now, we’ve been trying to get the New York State legislature, the Senate, to pass a New York State Roe v. Wade. That’s all the law would say. Take the federal ruling in Roe v. Wade—1973—and enact it into a state law.
“Currently, the New York State law is not as strong as Roe v. Wade because we had Roe v. Wade. And I’ve been arguing with the Republicans in the Senate, frankly, why don’t we codify it into New York state law? And the Republican Senators have been saying to me, well we have Roe v. Wade. We don’t need it. No one would be crazy enough to overturn Roe v. Wade. That’s the answer JoAnn has been getting for years when Planned Parenthood would lobby for New York State law. We don’t need it, we have Roe v. Wade. Well you know what? Now we need it. Now we need it.
“And I want the New York State Senators to come back today, tomorrow, to go to Albany, and pass and New York State Roe v. Wade, period. And no excuses. No excuses. For years they’ve been doing this dance, the Republican Senators. Privately they say, I’m pro-choice, I’m pro-choice. When the bill comes up, I’m going to vote pro-choice. [Planned Parenthood of Nassau County CEO]JoAnn [Smith] will tell you. But then, they never let the bill come up. We tried to force a vote this legislative session. They won’t put the bill on the floor. Why? It’s a little game they play. It allows them to say privately, when the bill comes up, I’ll vote yes. But, the bill never comes up, so they can tell one audience, yes, I’m pro-choice. Then they can go to another audience and say, we’ll never pass choice in the state of New York.
“We have to call to question. This is binary. This is black and white. You are either pro-choice or you are not pro-choice and we don’t have Roe v.Wade to fall back on anymore. It’s only what we have in New York State law. And the New York State law does not go as far as Roe v. Wade and if we have only the New York State law, we’re in trouble. It does not do life and health. It is in the criminal code. We will have a problem. We need that law. We have to call to question and we have to say to the Republican Senators who have been having it both ways for too long, that’s over. You are with us or against us. And if you are with us don’t just tell me. Go up to Albany and pass a bill. That’s how I know that you are with the women and the men of this state who support choice. That’s what it has to be.
“In the meantime, I’m going to sign an Executive Order that guarantees the women in this state the right to contraception. I don’t care what the insurance company says or what the bureaucracy says. Women have the right to contraception. But we have to learn the lesson, my friends. Elections have consequences. Elections have consequences. And this is a wakeup call. If what they did on immigration and unions and what they did to Muslims wasn’t enough, this is an attack on every woman’s rights to control her own reproductive health in the United States of America. This is a direct attack on what we knew in 1970.”
Nassau County leaders who joined the Governor today in calling on the State Senate to reconvene and codify Roe v. Wade into state law included:
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran
Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas
Nassau County Legislator Ellen Birnbaum
Town of North Hempstead Supervisor Judi Bosworth
Town of North Hempstead Councilwoman Anna Kaplan
Town of North Hempstead Councilwoman Lee Seeman
Town of North Hempstead Clerk Wayne Wink
Town of Hempstead Clerk Sylvia Cabana
JoAnn Smith, President and CEO, Planned Parenthood of Nassau County
Rebecca Sanin, President and CEO, Health and Welfare Council of Long Island
Matty Aracich, President, Nassau and Suffolk Building Trades Council