April 20, 2016
Thanks to President Obama for Designating a National Monument to Women’s Equality
President Obama chose Equal Pay Day—April 12, 2016—to confer national monument status on the former Sewell Belmont House, the original headquarters for the National Woman’s Party, which played a key role in passing the 19th Amendment (woman suffrage), ratified in 1920.
The new monument was renamed the Belmont Paul Women’s Equality Monument. Robert Sewall owned the land where the house was built in 1800, and Alva Belmont was the first president of the National Woman’s Party, founded by Alice Paul. Applying her motto— “deeds, not words”— Paul worked to prevent discrimination on the basis of gender and to include women’s equality language in the United Nations Charter.
By designating the Belmont Paul Women’s Equality Museum as a national monument, President Obama honored the movement for women’s equality, which helped enact more than 600 pieces of civil rights legislation throughout the United States.
We thank our sisters who—like WNDC’s founders and members—fought throughout our history for today’s women’s rights and President Obama, who recognized and honored them by designating the Belmont Paul Women’s Equality Monument.
WNDC Board of Governors
WNDC Salutes President Obama’s Executive Gun Safety Initiative
On January 5, 2016, President Barack Obama fought back against Congressional obstruction of the most basic, common sense gun safety initiatives with a modest plan of executive actions to reduce gun deaths.
President Obama felt compelled to act because gunshot deaths are a public health emergency. Homicides, suicides and accidents have caused 836,290 firearms deaths in America between 1989 and 2014, around 30,000 deaths each year. One-third of these deaths involve citizens under 20 years old.
The total number of firearm deaths exceeded the total number of Americans killed in traffic accidents between 1989 and 2014, which was 825,000.
President Obama’s Executive orders would:
1] Close the loophole in national background check regulations that allows potential criminals to avoid background checks by purchasing online, or from gun shows or private sales—rather than from a standard gun store, as current regulations require. (Dylan Roof, who massacred nine church members in Charleston, South Carolina, purchased his gun online.) Of gun owners, 92 percent support background checks.
2] Hire more FBI processors to provide the background checks.
3] Mandate reporting of all lost or stolen weapons.
4] Mandate smart gun technology to prevent accidental shootings and allow tracing of lost or stolen firearms.
WNDC applauds these common-sense mandates, which aim to save lives. We hope all our members and readers will support President Obama’s courageous action and urge their members of Congress to fund these initiatives, as well as his proposed new $500 million investment to increase access to mental health care.
The newest anti-choice effort to smear Planned Parenthood’s reputation for high quality and ethical women’s health care is an allegation from The Center for Medical Progress (CFMP).
The CFMP created a “sting” and accuses Planned Parenthood of “selling” fetal organs saved following later term abortions. Their video is deceptively spliced to suggest Planned Parenthood specifically markets fetal organs.
The truth is that a few families who undergo later-term abortions decide to donate some fetal organs for medical research. The customary practice is that the medical research facility reimburses solely for storage and transportation costs.
This latest falsehood perpetrated by the CFMP is being publicized just as the Senate will be debating a national ban on abortions after 20 weeks. (House of Representatives passed 20 week ban in March 2015). We must “call out” this latest effort to sabotage “Choice” and remind our senators and President Obama to stand firm for the private health care decisions of women and their families.
The Woman’s National Democratic Club applauds Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, who last week announced his intention to retire from the Senate in 2016. The leader of Senate Democrats since 2005 and a member of Congress for 23 years, Senator Reid has fiercely advocated for Democratic values throughout his long career in government. An unapologetic advocate for policies that serve the majority of Americans, Senator Reid will leave a proud legacy that includes:
Senator Reid has been known as a soft-spoken legislator with a tough spine. He has steadfastly supported labor unions, immigration reform, choice, healthcare reform, and economic policies that help the working and middles classes. He strongly opposed the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, viewing the flood of money from the superrich as a disaster for Congress.
The product of humble roots, Senator Reid was born in Searchlight, Nevada, in a wooden shack without running water or electricity. At age 11, Reid worked the mines with his father, holding the headlamp as his father did his work. As a young man, he was an amateur lightweight boxer, both in and out of the ring—known for never shying away from a fight.
Reid graduated from George Washington University Law School, working a night job as a capitol police officer after classes because money was scarce. He began his government service as a gaming officer in Nevada, and then was elected to the House of Representative from Nevada in 1982. He was elected to the Senate in 1986 and served as Majority whip from 1999 to 2005—becoming majority leader in 2008 and (sadly) minority leader in 2014.
Reid strongly supports the election of women senators, recently telling the New York Times,“This place is so much better because of women….They have changed the dynamic of the Senate.” According to the National Journal, Reid supports Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Mastro to succeed him.
“I want to be able to go out at the top of my game,” said Senator Reid in his retirement announcement. You will be missed, Senator Reid, and WNDC members wish you well. We hope your successor will do as well fighting for dignity and economic justice for working- and middle class Americans.
Members of the Woman’s National Democratic Club were saddened to learn k that Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) would not seek reelection in 2016. At a press conference making this announcement, the Senator said “I had to decide whether to spend my time fighting to keep my job or fighting for your job. Do I spend my time raising money or raising hell to meet your day-to-day needs?”
Affectionately known as the “Dean of Women in Congress,” Senator Mikulski was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1976, where she represented Maryland’s 3rd District. In 1986, she was successful in her Senate run, becoming the first Democratic woman senator “elected in her own right,” meaning not as a replacement for a deceased spouse. On March 17, 2012, she became the longest-serving woman in the history of the United States Congress and in January 2011 became the longest-serving woman in the U.S. Senate, outpacing by four years Senator Margaret Chase Smith, a moderate Republican of Maine, who shared a similar career path (1949-1973).
Senator Mikulski was also the first woman and first Marylander to chair the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee. Of these milestones, Senator Mikulski said, “It’s not about how long I serve, but about how well I serve my state and my nation.” Senator Mikulski has been a trailblazer for women in politics and a consensus builder in the Senate. She has fought unflaggingly to improve the lives of American seniors, veterans, and students. She has championed the rights of women, whether by ensuring they have access to safe reproductive health care or that they get a fair shot in the workplace. A crowning achievement in this connection was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, introduced and navigated through the Congress by Senator Mikulski. This was the first piece of legislation to be signed by President Obama in 2009.
WNDC was proud to honor Senator Mikulski as our Outstanding Democratic Woman of the Year in 1987. Four hundred people were in attendance at that reception, according to Democratic Women: An Oral History of the Woman’s Democratic Club. She was then—and continues to be—a rock star.
Senator Mikulski has served her country with distinction, and we at WNDC express our deepest admiration and thanks for her leadership, dedication, and contributions. We wish her the best in future endeavors. In the meantime, we look forward to working with her in the U.S. Senate as she continues to fight for progressive causes and “raise hell” for all of us.