Every year, FMF interns organize a Captiol Hill Briefing and Congressional Visit day for interns in the Washignton, DC area. This year the briefing focused on the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), International and Domestic Family Planning, the DREAM Act, and the federal budget. The day began with a briefing where attendees were educated about these issues with hopes that following the briefing they would visit their representatives to discuss the issues. Speakers and panelists for the briefing included Laura MacCleery (Director of Government Relations at the Center for Reproductive Rights), Jeff Meer (Special Advisor for Global Health Policy and Development at the Public Health Institute), Sofia Campos (Co-chair of IDEAS UCLA), Gaby Pacheco (Activist for Trail2010), Representative Carolyn Maloney (NY-14), Representative Gwen Moore (WI-4), Representative Jan Schakowsky (IL-9), and Feminist Majority Foundation President Eleanor Smeal.
Equal Rights Amendment Reintroduction
Interns were able to join President Ellie Smeal at an event in the Capitol triangle where Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) reintroduced the Equal Rights Amendment. If passed by Congress and ratified by 38 states, women’s equality would be a constitutional right. The ERA was first introduced in 1923.
Saudi Women to Drive Rally
Interns joined others to support women in Saudi Arabia who were taking to the streets to demand the right to drive by posting videos of themselves behind the wheel. Saudi women have to rely on male relatives or paid drivers to get around by car due to a religious edict issued by Muslim clerics, but there is no written law barring women from driving. No other Islamic country, however, bans women from driving. The issue came to a head when IT worker Manal Al Sharif was detained for nine days after posting a video of herself driving on Youtube.
Walmart Sex-Discrimination Rally
In a critical five to four vote, the Supreme Court made it much harder for the victims of discrimination to take class action cases against large employers. The US Supreme Court majority ruled that the largest sex-discrimination class-action suit in history, filed on behalf of 1.6 million women, cannot proceed as a class action against Walmart. Following the decision, interns joined others in front of the Supreme Court to show disappointment with the decision and Walmart.
Interns joined other pro-choice individuals in a week long peaceful presence in support of abortion provider Dr. LeRoy Carhart, who has been practicing at his clinic in Germantown, MD since December. Dr. Carhart worked with the late Dr. Tiller and is now the chief target of Operation Rescue. Anti-abortion protestors deemed the week the Summer of Mercy 2.0. Pro-choice supporters were outside the clinic in response the the anti-abortion protestors to serve as a peaceful reminder that support for abortion rights is a majority position in the country and as reinforcement of our determination that the clinic will stay open. The week began with a kick-off walk around the clinic.
Other events: AID & International Development Forum, International Family Planning Coalition Meeting, Sex & Politics in Capital City, Management Sciences for Health Conference: “Demystifying Performance-based Financing,” First Senate Hearing of the DREAM Act, Peaceful Presence Training for Summer Celebration of Choice, Planned Parenthood Summer Soiree, brown bag lunch on HIV/AIDS, American Dream rally