RESISTANCE WATCH--Planning and coordination for the May 1st march and rally, "Resist Los Angeles," is full steam ahead as more than 60 organizations have joined the May Day Coalition of Los Angeles making it the most diverse since 2006. The Coalition meets every other Tuesday.
RESISTANCE WATCH--Technology and social media have been at the forefront of Trump-driven activism. I sat down with Sean Howell, president of Hornet, the world’s premier gay social network and the only LGBT app serving as the official hub of June’s LA #ResistMarch and other marches throughout the country to discuss the role technology can play in the resistance movement.
“Social media is a tool for rallying and organizing, with protests on the rise,” says Howell. “We’re empowering grassroots activism by not only providing information and event details, using technology to bring people together, but also the opportunity for people to share images.”
This year’s LA Pride Parade has shifted focus to become #ResistMarch. Howell shares the vision of #ResistMarch founder Brian Pendleton. “It’s important that the LGBTQ community works with other marginalized groups,” says Howell. “Hornet will work with #ResistMarch and LA Pride to organize and mobilize.”
“The tone out of the White House is significant, especially for LGBTQ people. We’ve made great strides in history but this can be a step backwards,” says Howell (photo left), who adds that the Administration has attempted to set policies that negatively impact other groups, as well. “The policies about not funding birth control here and for overseas NGOs is concerning. The movement has us worried, even the appointments that have been made.”
“It’s important for the community to come together in a visible way. We’ve spent twenty years funding and fighting for rights in the Courts, in politics, in local elections. We cannot afford to go backwards or even maintain where things are. There’s still so much to accomplish in the U.S. but also internationally,” Howell adds. “The U.S. has always been looked at as a beacon of LGBT rights. Life for LGBT people is really dark in the rest of the world. Not only do we want to do what we can but whether we look at the Arab Spring or Black Lives Matter movements, we see how technology can empower voices.”
The Hornet app’s users are gay men across the world, many who do not have full equality. “All our users are unified in that way. We can disseminate information easily and can empower connectivity with each other and participants,” says Howell. Another function of the app’s involvement is to continue the conversation and the dialogue. “We are also opening a connection between what we need to say as a community -- and to connect in a human way,” he says. “Sometimes, in the courts, there’s a victory but people still have ideas against you. We realize that we have to persuade people through their hearts and we have lots of work to do.”
Why is technology such a powerful tool? Howell says social media makes it easy to disseminate information and to stay on target with messaging, as well as to make the goals of the march more accessible. “Lots of people are unable to participate physically, whether because of disability or they will be at work, maybe they live too far or are introverted so there will be ways to participate online,” says Howell. “Before technology, this did not exist. Now people can vocalize through social media. We can look to the President to see that social media does matter. It’s empowering to make your own messaging and that can be as important as an actual march.”
During the Obama campaign, developers worked to create a geo-specific app to connect with Obama phone bankers and Howell says in the coming year’s midterm elections, apps will help with fundraising and getting messaging out for candidates, as well as for Get Out the Vote.
Howell says Hornet will be supporting the West Coast and to make the LA march as big as possible but also to boost the virtual march so that everyone is supported.
“At the core, we want to let everyone know that Los Angeles is important not only as a media capital but it’s a big city in North America with a mixed voting record. It’s a great place to have visibility. The kid on the street seeing a large march and asking his moderate or conservative parents to explain -- that could be the beginning of an important conversation and it could be the renaissance of mobilization. We’ve had a little bit of paradise but in some ways, we have been taking things for granted. The task of our generation is what are we going to do? Are we capable of what happened in the sixties or the seventies? I hope so. -- Sean Howell, President of Hornet
During a recent visit to Taiwan, Howell says he was interested to see LGBT associations in a march for Tibet. “We’re learning that when minority groups stick together, we have louder voices. I would love to see that with the LGBT movement,” he adds.
It’s important for us to reach across to other groups, to think of ways to work together,” he adds. “For LGBT rights, there are different issues, different politics, low income, disabled, of every color. Different groups face different challenges.”
The one thing that can bring us all together is the current administration. My hope is that the #ResistMarch has huge visibility on the streets and through technology. It’s going to be fun. We are activists again. It’s not something I wished for but it’s the reality and it’s going to give us lots of meaning for this year. We’re just getting started. -- Sean Howell, Hornet
What’s next? Howell says it helps to know people are working to resist in the political and ideological battle in the long run. “That’s why we produce content, not only through our editorial team but talking about critical conversations of the day, covered as news at a time when media is imploding. We have niche media for LGBT that we are working on growing, so many nuances and we can disseminate this with our app,” he says.
Currently, the Hornet app is addressing the Trump administration’s move to drop questions pertaining to sexual orientation and gender identity from the 2020 census. According to polls, between 3.8% and 19% of the U.S. population could identify as LGBT, a figure that will remain unquantified without inclusion in the upcoming census.
Hornet is encouraging “every LGBT person to stand up and #BeCounted. Using the power of technology and social media, Hornet wants to send a powerful message that the LGBT population is large, productive, and growing. Hornet is also asking LGBT people everywhere to sign its Change.org petition and to share far and wide,” says Howell.
NEED TO KNOW on the census issue.
(Beth Cone Kramer is a Los Angeles writer and a columnist for CityWatch.)
RESISTANCE WATCH--Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.-- The Equal Rights Amendment or ERA
Just days after Nevada became the 36th state of the required two-thirds state’s ratification required to add a Constitutional amendment, feminists of all ages gathered in Pan Pacific Park for the First Annual Rally and Walk for Women’s Equality. A sister march was held in Palo Alto.
Girls Learn International leaders and alumni rallied the drive to support ratification in the final two states along with former CNN White House correspondent Jessica Yellin, Feminist Majority’s Carol Ann Leif and Sarah Bradshaw, former officeholders Wendy Greuel and Abbe Land, Congresswoman Judy Chu and LA County Supervisor Hilda Solis. Actor/activists who shared their personal stories and sent a strong message to the crowd included the comedic team of Frangela, Dan Bucatinsky (Scandal, 24:Legacy), Heather Thomas, Curtis Armstrong, Donna Mills, Jason George, as well as Kamala Lopez, Award-winning director of Equal Means Equal.
As Donna Mills shared in her speech, many of us were unaware that the ERA (Equal Rights Amendment) was still under consideration for ratification or even that the amendment, which saw a resurgence as a heated topic during the seventies but now that Nevada’s state legislature has ratified the amendment, only two more states are needed.
The goal of Sunday’s rally and walk was to raise awareness and mobilize support for the final drive to ratify the ERA. Nevada became the first state to ratify the amendment since 1982 on March 22 on the 45th anniversary of the U.S. Senate approval to be forwarded to the states.
As I wrote in my last column, the ratification of the ERA is now more crucial than ever. Currently, women must fight for equality law by law, state by state. If the GOP push to repeal ACA and strip six “essential” health care benefits had succeeded, policies would no longer have to cover maternity benefits or contraception. Originalists like SCOTUS nominee Neil Gorsuch, following the path of Justice Scalia, believe in an interpretation of the Constitution as written by the Founding Fathers in 1789 when women were chattel, property of fathers and husbands.
California was a trailblazer -- the 1879 Constitution of California was the first to include equal rights provision but even so, limits those rights to “entering or pursuing a business, profession, vocation or employment.”
Opponents to the ERA often ramble that American women have more rights than anywhere else in the world but as Kamala Lopez reminded rally attendees, women in the U.S. still face discrimination in education, employment, wages, insurance benefits, scholarships, Social Security, violence against women and more. One in four female college students will be raped and every few minutes, a woman is a victim of domestic violence.
Under the Trump Administration, the protections President Obama strengthened to protect transgender students under Title IX have already been rolled back. Through judicial appointments, Cabinet nominations and executive directives, Trump can force the hand of colleges and universities to return to a system that favors accused rapists and removes liabilities for universities and colleges that fail to investigate sex crimes.
The recent Nevada ratification and efforts in other states are part of a grassroots three-state strategy that rejects the time limit for ratification, which Constitutional scholars believe makes the amendment subject to extension or removal by a vote in Congress.
The movement to continue the fight has been revived with support of California’s representatives. Congresswoman Jackie Speier (CA-14) is the chief sponsor of HJ Resolution 53, a joint resolution in the House that would remove the time limit and allow for ratification. The resolution currently has 135 co-sponsors, including Congresswoman Judy Chu. Companion legislation in the Senate was introduced by Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD.)
Through fundraising and activism, the drive is to get two additional state legislatures to ratify, as well as to remove the deadline. The states that did not ratify the ERA prior to the 1982 deadline are: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, and Virginia. With the Nevada vote, only two additional states will need to ratify, pending the extension of the 1982 deadline.
For more information on how you can help, visit the Feminist Majority Foundation website.
Girls Learn International (GLI) is a program of the Feminist Majority Foundation that “supports the empowerment of U.S. students as they discover that through their own creative initiatives, dedication, and passionate leadership, they can create real solutions that address the obstacles facing girls and women in the U.S. and around the world. Student-to-student and student-to-parent, GLI is building a movement of informed advocates for universal girls’ education and a new generation of leaders and activists for social change. -- Girls Learn International.
OTHER RESISTANCE READING
(Beth Cone Kramer is a Los Angeles writer and a columnist … covering women’s rights and other inequality issues … for CityWatch.)
RESISTANCE WATCH--Did the many protests against killing the Affordable Care Act — including loud demonstrations at public forums — convince moderate members of the House of Representatives to vote no? A number of left-leaning commentators, including New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait, argue they did.
Newly published research provides hard data that backs up Chait’s anecdotal evidence. It finds protests can and do change lawmakers’ minds — if they are well-organized and well-behaved.
“Can protesters — by who they are, and how they behave — send cues to politicians that affect their opinions? Our results suggest they can,” write Ruud Wouters of the University of Amsterdam and Stefaan Walgrave of the University of Antwerp. Their study is published in the April issue of the American Sociological Review.
The study, conducted in 2015, featured 269 Belgian politicians — members of the national parliament, or one of two regional parliaments. As part of a larger survey, all indicated their position on the issue of asylum for refugees.
Then they watched two short video clips of a demonstration in which protestors called for faster, more humane, and less arbitrary rules governing asylum claims. After watching each, they were again asked their opinion on the issue, how important they considered it, and whether they contemplated any action to address it.
The vignettes were manipulated to convey high and low levels of participation, unity, and “worthiness.” Low worthiness was depicted by images of broken windows and demonstrators getting into altercations with police, indicating the protest had turned violent. High worthiness was depicted with images of peaceful demonstrators, including parents walking with their children.
“Unity” was depicted as either high (with all banners conveying a single message) or low (with different demonstrators airing various grievances). “Numbers” were manipulated to show a small demonstration (about 500 people) or a large one (more than 5,000, shown in aerial photographs).
“We found that who the protestors are, and how they behave, influences elected representatives’ opinion formation,” the researchers write. “Protests that mobilize demonstrators who agree among themselves, share a single claim, and bring many people to the streets impress elected officials. “Unity and numbers significantly change representatives’ opinions regarding the importance of the underlying issue. These cues even alter representatives’ positions, and make them willing to undertake action.”
The effect of these images was relatively small, compared to that of the politicians’ pre-existing beliefs. Nevertheless, the results suggest “elected officials’ opinions are not entirely stable,” but rather are affected by “signals coming in from society” — including protests. This held true for politicians on the left as well as the right.
The fact that the lawmakers’ shifted their stances, at least somewhat, is more impressive when you consider that “the demonstrators show in the clip, and mentioned in the voice-over, came across mainly as being foreign and poor.” In other words, they weren’t likely voters. This suggests protests by “stronger societal groups, such as teachers or employers,” could have even stronger effects on lawmakers’ opinions.
In announcing the study, Wouters directly addressed the anti-Trump protest movement in the United States, suggesting it will be most effective if people turn out in force and convey a single, unified message. He adds that “violence will further polarize the situation and burn bridges.”
Resisters: You have your — literal — marching orders.
(Tom Jacobs is a staff writer with Pacific Standard magazine … where this piece was first posted.)
RESISTANCE WATCH-Last Thursday’s meeting with Mayor Garcetti proved the resistance is a force to be reckoned with. As reported last week, I learned of the meeting through the ACLU’s PeoplePower site and in response to the Resistance Training webinar of March 11. Upon my arrival at City Hall, I discovered that grassroots groups are sprouting up everywhere and there is a great deal of collaboration on key issues of concern.
The meeting was called by a group called the West Valley Resistance. They are a chapter of a broader organization called Indivisible. The two focal points covered at this meeting were the request by the group for The City of Los Angeles to pass a resolution asking the U.S. House of Representatives to open an impeachment investigation on President Trump. The second request is for the City to formally adopt the status of Freedom City or Sanctuary City as defined by the ACLU’s “9 Model State and Local Law Enforcement Policies and Rules.”
I caught a ride back to work from a couple of women from another chapter of the group called “Indivisible Suffragette Sisters.” Moira Cue and Brooke Robbins gave me the skinny on who they are and what they’ve been up to.
Turns out Indivisible began as a group of former staffers. After the election, Ezra Levin, Leah Greenberg and Sarah Dohl were out for a few in a bar in Austin, Texas. They’d seen first hand how the Tea Party has managed to take over the Republican Party. With these strategies and tactics in mind, they fashioned, in their own words, a “poorly formatted, typo-filled Google doc” – a guide on how to make Congress listen.
The response was phenomenal. Dohl recently shared with Salon writer Sophia McClennen that, “as March 21, Indivisible had 18.47 million page views, 3.03 million unique users from every state, 2.02
million downloads/views of the Indivisible Guide, and 2.97 million searches for a group, meeting or event. They currently have 5,802 verified groups, with at least two in every congressional district. As a point of comparison, the Tea Party spiked at about 1,000 local groups.
Go to their website https://www.indivisibleguide.com to download the guide and enter your zip code to see what’s going on in your area.
Mayor Garcetti did not actually attend the meeting this past Thursday. Instead, his West Valley rep, Kevin Taylor, met with us. He was, in his own words, not expecting the number of people who showed for the meeting. He did however have copies of “Executive Directive No. 20” on hand for us to compare with the ACLU’s model policies and rules. His assistant added that everything the City has done may not be in the directive, such as the letter that the mayor’s office sent to ICE reminding them that they cannot identify themselves as police officers in the City of Los Angeles.
He also said they would be happy to take a call if anyone finds a discrepancy between the City doc and the one devised by the ACLU.
There was plenty of lively dialogue during the meeting and resisters were not shy about what they want. One of the points Mr. Taylor covered was the formation of the Justice Fund. The Fund, a joint commitment from the City, the County and private resources, will provide legal counsel to immigrant detainees. The West Valley Resistance will support the Justice Fund and encourages other organizations to do the same.
The WVR is encouraging other resistance groups to contact their City Council members and request their reps support the Justice Fund as well as the resolution to impeach Trump. They are also considering going to the County Supervisors to get the Sherriff to stop his raids at courthouses and local big box retailers.
I asked Moira Cue, Public Relations Manager for the Indivisible Suffragette Sisters Chapter, if Indivisible was a force in getting people to the town halls to demand their reps vote against Trumpcare. In my view, this grassroots activity was the key to the stunning defeat of Trump’s draconian healthcare bill. “Yes definitely,” said Moira. “Now we need to make sure HR 861 which would terminate the EPA is stopped too!”
Looks like the “angelic troublemakers” of Indivisible are a highly organized group of trench-fighters with no plans to back down. Last week’s big win in the fight for healthcare is a real shot in the arm for resisters everywhere. What with the onslaught of attacks on civil liberties of all stripes, these are challenging times. Just this past Monday, Jeff Sessions re-iterated the Trump administration’s threat to sanction cities that uphold sanctuary-like policies. Who will our city officials listen to? The people? Or Trump?
(Jennifer Caldwell is an actress and an active member of SAG-AFTRA, serving on several committees. She is a published author of short stories and news articles and is a featured contributor to CityWatch. Jennifer can be reached at email@example.com. Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jennifercald - Twitter: @checkingthegate ... And her website: Jenniferhcaldwell.com) Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.
RESISTANCE WATCH--Back in the seventies, the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was a hot topic of conversation. Amidst the backdrop of the current political environment and administration, the battle has resurged, alive and kicking.
On Sunday, March 26, at least a thousand are expected to gather in Pan Pacific Park for The Walk for Equality Southern California, a rally, walk, and call to action as part of Feminist Majority-organized rallies and fundraising walks in support of feminist equality, including the push to ratify the ERA.
I sat down with Katherine Spillar, Director of The Feminist Majority Foundation, to discuss Sunday’s event, the history of the ERA and why the amendment is at a crucial turning point.
The Feminist Majority Foundation (FMF) was created to develop bold, new strategies and programs to advance women's equality, non-violence, economic development, and, most importantly, empowerment of women and girls in all sectors of society. All programs of the FMF endeavor to include a global perspective and activities to promote leadership development, especially among young women. Along with reproductive rights and access to reproductive technology, the FMF's programs have focused on the empowerment of women in law, business, medicine, academia, sports, and the Internet.
The Rally and Walk:
On March 26, feminists will gather in Los Angeles and in Palo Alto to raise funds and “build momentum for finally ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment to guarantee full constitutional equality for women and girls. All contributions raised by the Rally & March for Equality will ensure that we have the resources to fight back and build momentum. We need to raise funds for field organizers, recruiting and training volunteers, educational materials and online organizing. -- Feminist Majority Foundation
Check-in for the event will begin at Pan Pacific Park, rain or shine, at 8:30 am. The kickoff rally will begin at 9:30 am and the walk at 10:30 am.
Rally speakers as of publication include:
- Curtis Armstrong – Actor and Producer
- Dan Bucatinsky – Actor, 24 Legacy
- Honorable Judy Chu – Congress member
- Maria Elena Durazo – General Vice-President, UNITE HERE
- Annabeth Gish – Actor and Activist
- Wendy Greuel – Former Controller, City of Los Angeles
- Abbe Land – Former Mayor and City Councilmember West Hollywood
- Donna Mills – Actor & Activist
- Emiliana Guereca – Women’s March Los Angeles Organizer
- Frangela (a.k.a. Frances Callier & Angela Shelton) – Comedic Team
- Jason George – actor, Grey’s Anatomy
- Carol Ann Leif – Feminist Majority Board Member
- Kamala Lopez – Award-winning Director “Equal Means Equal”
- Rose McGowen – Actor, Producer, Director, Singer, Charmed
- Jill Sobule – Singer
- Honorable Hilda Solis – Supervisor, County of Los Angeles
- Dinah Stephens – Director of Public Affairs, Planned Parenthood Advocacy Project LA County
- Heather Thomas – Activist and Actor
- Diana Trujillo – Team Chief, Curiosity’s Engineering Division, JPL/NASA
- Jessica Yellin – Former CNN White House Correspondent
- Ani Zonneveld – Muslims for Progressive Values
Beth Cone Kramer: What are the goals of The Rally & Walk for Women’s Equality?
Spillar: The key is coming together to demand attention and efforts to finally ratify the ERA. Women are no in the Constitution except for the 19th Amendment, the only time any rights for women are specifically guaranteed by the highest laws of our country. The Rally and Walk are to wake people up. We can fight to win final ratification that is so critical. If we had constitutional equality, we could be in a better place to stop what is happening to women’s rights issues in Congress and by the Trump Administration. All of this is even as we are fighting to keep Gorsuch off the Court. It’s one call to action to save Roe v Wade and to block Gorsuch for SCOTUS. We are fighting the effort to push back just as we must keep fighting to keep moving forward.
BCK: Why now?
Spillar: On March 20, Nevada became the 36th state to ratify the ERA, a federal Constitutional Amendment that would prohibit sex discrimination and guarantee equal rights for women and girls. Nevada’s ratification will be finalized exactly 45 years after the US Senate approved and sent the ERA to the states. The amendment needs ratification by 38 states to pass.
Scalia spent the last few years of his life debating Ruth Bader Ginsberg and was very clear on his reading of the Constitution that women do not have protection from sex discrimination in the Constitution. We have to get it added.
BCK: What’s at risk if we don’t pass ERA?
Spiller: The administration is probably going to gut women’s provisions in the health care repeal, defunding Planned Parenthood, taking away access to contraception as a guarantee in health insurance coverage. The Trump Administration intends to take away Title IX as it relates to sexual assault, no longer holding campuses accountable for sexual assault on campus or to support work to prevent sexual assault. The ERA would fight that. The rationale is that colleges and universities don’t want to be liable for lawsuits. Fraternities and sports teams are opposed to tougher environments.
BCK: Labor Issues?
Spillar: The Department of Labor is pulling back on enforcement of laws that deal with sex discrimination in the workplace. Judge Gorsuch (Supreme Court nominee) has lectured law students to okay asking prospective employers to ask if female applicants plan to have children. Gorsuch is an originalist, a texturalist. He has the same opinion as Scalia had -- that women’s rights are not guaranteed by the Constitution. To the framers, women were chattel.
BCK: Protection for Women?
Spillar: We need the ERA to be very clear about equality. If any administration proves this, it’s the Trump Administration, which is very clear about dismantling gains we have made. If we had the ERA, we’d be in a much stronger position to fight. The ERA would ensure comprehensive access to abortion and contraceptives, opposition to violence against women, equal access to educational opportunity and equal pay for equal work, as well as equal opportunities in the workplace. The ERA applies to all these areas.
BCK: What happened to the ERA last time?
Spillar: The ERA was passed out of Congress by a Super Majority, two-thirds of both Houses in 1972 and then, the vote went to the states. To add an amendment, three-fourths of the state legislatures must ratify -- not by referendum or initiative. In the great wisdom of a Congress that was only two percent women, they passed a time limit to have states ratify within seven years. As 1979 approached, the movement geared up massively to remove the time restriction. As of 1979, 35 of the states had ratified. We only needed two more. The time limit was extended to June of 1982. Just seven men in three states stood in the way of adding the ERA to the Constitution. By June 30, 1982, we fell three states short.
Believing this was it, we went all out nationally to fight because of Reagan to hold on to rights like Roe v Wade; Title IX was under attack. Other laws were weakened. The movement focused on these attacks. By the late 1990s and early 2000s, the Movement began to consider getting these additional three states and going for the retroactive removal of the time limit. What gave us the idea was the ratification of the Madison Amendment. Two hundred years earlier, it was proposed by James Madison that Congress could not vote on its own pay raises; Congressional members could only vote for members of the next Congress. The Amendment was finally ratified 200 years after it was first proposed.
We thought, wait a minute! We got nine years and they had 200 years plus. The whole movement was reinvigorated to remove the time limit retroactively. Carolyn Maloney put new ERA language in the House and her counterpart did the same in the Senate. We’ve been working continuously on this effort since the Suffragists first proposed an Equal Rights Amendment in the 1920s. It’s now gaining steam with Nevada as the 35th state this week. That just leaves two states.
The United States is one of the only modern democracies that does not have constitutional guarantees for women. We are way behind on constitutional equality. If we have a stronger movement here, then our sisters around the world will have stronger partners for advocating for full equality and for fundamental rights.
If everyone steps up, we are one foot closer to rally and sign up. The call to action issued on Sunday will be about the SCOTUS but there are so many fights. We need a SCOTUS that will support and not ignore the ERA. The two are very intertwined.
NEED TO KNOW
- To Register for the Rally & Walk or for more information, visit Southern California Walk for Equality.
- Feminist Majority Foundation for more information on the foundation and ERA.
(Beth Cone Kramer is a Los Angeles writer and a columnist for CityWatch.)