2:15pm Plenary IV

Indiana State Senator Sue Errington

Sue’s Remarks (Paraphrased):

Joining NOW was one of my first political actions.  I was visiting with state and local and national elected officials.  Learned through NOW that you have to look for somebody else if you can’t change the minds of the leaders.  Began volunteering at political campaigns – one in Illinois.  As years went by, I realized that we need more women in the legislation.  The more women run, the more women will be elected.  I owe NOW gratitude for giving me the ideas, the inspiration and the courage to run for elected official.

Welcome to Indiana.

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Whoa. Major interruption.  Two women have risen to accuse Kim Gandy of mishandling finances.  Kim has responded by announcing  that the protesters are intending to get revenge because they apparently have a website and / or radio show where they spoke out against NOW for not supporting Sara Palin.

Motion to move on with the speakers.  SECOND.

End of drama….. for now….

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Hon. Jennifer Brunner

Ohio’s 52nd Secretary of State

Jennifer has been responsible for overseeing fair and free elections in Ohio… (side note:  seriously?  fair elections in Ohio?  Isn’t that an oxymoron?)  She’s also running for US Senate.

Jennifer’s Remarks (Paraphrased):  I’m so glad to be with you today.  I belonged to NOW in the 70’s, I remember when I worked in the Ohio Senate at 22, to go to a meeting on behalf of my boss, I was the only woman in the room.  There was an older woman who came in to serve coffee to every person but me because she thought I was a secretary.  

In the Regan era it became a dirty word to be a feminist… you were a ‘hairy-legged libber’.   What I think happened with Hillary Clinton’s race it made young women realize that yes, there is still a glass ceiling.  I can tell you that I married my husband at age 21 and when I ran for secretary of state it became a family affair.  We had three children, adult children, and we also had my cousin’s young children.  Campaigning was actually time to myself.  My oldest daughter became my finance director.  My youngest son became my driver and my middle child came to sing at my swearing in.  It is hard to do it all… I understood that family came first and it was always important, so I waited to run for office when my youngest was 14.  It’s interesting to read about why women don’t run for office:  family concerns, they think they’re not qualified, they haven’t been specifically asked.  When it came to becoming a judge, I liked fairness, I liked the process.  When I began campaigning, I actually liked it.   I got to see people in their own environment, heard people andtheir ideas.  Those experiences helped me understand the people of the community… as a judge their lives were in my hands… their lives aren’t  just black and white.   Usually when women run for office, when they sink their teeth into one issue they care about, they realize that they’ll only get something done is if they’re the decision maker.  I realized that I wouldn’t be happy listening to evidence about finger prints for the next 20 years. 

I am very strongly in favor of Marriage Equality.  As you watch Ohio, we have always been a progressive state.  We fell backwards for a few years, but we’re on our way back.

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Congresswoman Gwen Moore

Congresswoman Gwendolynne S. Moore was sworn in as Representative of Wisconsin’s Fourth Congressional District in January 2005.

During her first term in Congress, provisions from Congresswoman Moore’s legislation, the SHIELD Act, were signed into law during re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). These provisions ensure that victims of domestic violence who flee their abuser cannot then be tracked and found through the Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) new Homeless Management Information System- http://www.house.gov/gwenmoore/bio.shtml

Gwen’s Remarks (Paraphrased):  NOW realizes that racism, sexism, and homophobia work together.  (Author’s note: This woman is awesome and hilarious… my sad paraphrasing does not do her justice.) 

There’s a number one New York best seller out by a guy named Eckhart Tolle.  He has written The Power of Now which is all the rage.  His thesis is that you can’t dwell in the past nor pine for the future… stay in the present.  Our now is an accumulation of nows that has made us successful.  That’s why we’re struggling to keep Roe v Wade. We’re still struggling.. Margaret Sanger fought for birth control… we’re still struggling in the 21st century to retain our right to birth control. 

1994, we fought for the violence against women’s act… we marched with NOW to make sure it’s funded correctly.  Just the other day, I was able to get 4 million dollars for legal assistance for the violence against women act.  But, you know, the struggle has just begun, and despite Lilly Ledbetter, women are still  underpaid, under employed – I guess that’s why we’re in financial ruin.   Women are still under represented in the military and the judiciary – I guess that’s why we have no justice and no peace.  I fought in congress against international maternal fatality.  We don’t want our money used to support stuff like marital rape (overseas)….  

I want to focus on poor women, women of color, women with disabilities.   Reform of welfare and TANIF(?)… There is a movement to make women a permanent underclass by denying us education opportunity…. the re-institution of slavery with women at the center – wiping down tables at restaurants with no hope of rising out of that.  We have to make sure educational educational opportunities… safe child care is guaranteed while working and while going to school.  They expect you to take your child to chester the molester or to your mother, the two days she’s not on dialysis.   Assault on the constitution to make women submit to drug testing to get TANIF money.  We’re in a world wide recession and women and children are ineligible for TANIFif they have gone past the 5 year clock… we’ve got to stop the clock.   This is kind of daunting… we’ve worked so hard… this is what Eckhartwarns us against… seems like we’ve been fighting these same old fights.  I’m glad to see young people here, we have to have people to pass the baton to.  When you spend time in the past you feel the depression and anger of things you worked for but did not succeed.

One thing Sojourner Truth said… You can’t go around asking for power, you’ve got to take it!

Betty Friedan invited some women into her room, wrote NOW on a napkin, they all sat around crying and grieving about what wasn’t being done for women and Catherine Conroy jumped up and said “Here’s $5, let’s start an organisation!”  And they started NOW.  That’s what we’ve got to do.  They never knew what they would accomplish.

We have to run for office.  We have to believe in ourselves.  Even when we’re not going to make it to the end of the race.  We have to pay our NOW dues, we have to talk the talk and we have to walk the walk.  This is a power organisation.

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