Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Power of Women

8 days. That's all that's left in this legislative session. 8 days for the legislature to take action to be remembered for more than corruption and scandal this year. 8 days to pass campaign finance reform. 8 days to pass the Women's Equality Act (WEA). 8 days for them to act on the host of other League issues being stalled in the Senate. We continue to work hard to make this happen.

This past week was largely focused on the Women's Equality Act. Tuesday, June 4th, at a press release attended by the League and the other steering committee members of the Women's Equality Coalition, the governor announced the release of the Women's Equality Act language. During the press conference, various members of the coalition spoke on different points of the 10-point legislation. Brianna, a survivor of human trafficking and sexual exploitation, also told her story and shared her support for the WEA. There didn't see to be a dry eye in the room by the time she was finished speaking.

Following the press release, The League joined the Women's Equality Rally in West Capitol Park. League members, along with many many other organizations and WEA advocates, from across the state were out in force! There were a number of passionate speakers, including Sarah Weddington, attorney who argued Roe v Wade before US Supreme Court, and Cynthia Nixon, TV star of Sex and the City. I spoke after Cynthia Nixon and was joined on stage by a great number of League members (see our website and facebook page for photos). Later I was asked for an encore – i.e. to introduce the governor at Seneca Falls on Wednesday where he spoke about the WEA at the Women's Rights National Historical Park.

Yesterday, the governor's office picked me up at the League office for the three hour drive up to Seneca Falls, where I was joined by League members who came out to support the WEA. It was very exciting to be at this historic site where New York's long struggle for Women's suffrage began. I met Governor Cuomo's car as it arrived and walked with the Governor across the lawn to the chapel (was careful not to get my heels stuck in the lawn so I didn't walk out of my shoes)! I then introduced the event and the list of local elected officials. I spoke about how important Seneca Falls was to women's rights and how important this current Women's Equality Agenda was to achieving equality and fairness for the women of New York.

I then introduced Mylan Denerstein, the governor's counsel, who walked the gathering through the ten point act. The governor then spoke and credited his father for guiding him toward this agenda. (Yes, I did, I called the current governor, “Mario.” I recovered quickly and told the gathering that one of my first legislative victories was with his father on women's equality.. Everyone laughed and it gave Andrew the opportunity to then go on thank me and his father, whew!) The Governor gave an impassioned speech about the societal bias against women and why the WEA is so important. I then closed the event after which the Governor took questions from the local press as he moved toward the door to go on to Vassar college for another WEA event. His staff then drove me the three hours back to the League office. It was a long but very exciting day.

At the rally on Tuesday, the crowd was majorly energized as the sizable Greater Capital Region contingent of the Women's Equality Coalition marched onto the lawn from State Street, chanting “There ain't no power like the power of women 'cause the power of women don't stop!” The power of women was certainly evident at Tuesday's rally. And it was certainly evident in Seneca Falls on Wednesday. We need now to make sure the power of women (and our allies) remains evident on every single one of these final days of the legislative session. Call, write, visit your legislators, NOW! Call, write, visit Senate co-leaders, Senator Klein and Senator Skelos., NOW! Tell them they cannot leave this legislative session without passing the WEA and campaign finance reform. Tell them to bring the bills to the floor on these and other important issues, including hydrofracking waste and GENDA.  At the very least, the people of New York deserve a vote on the issues that matter to them.

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