February 18, 2012

State OK’s Gay Unions; House Hosts Men-Only Panel

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(WOMENSENEWS)–

Cheers

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Gov. Chris Gregoire signed into law a measure legalizing same-sex marriage in Washington State, making it the seventh in the nation to allow gay and lesbian couples to wed, USA Today reported Feb. 13. Gregoire, who is a Democrat and Roman Catholic, said, "I’m proud our same-sex couples will no longer be treated as separate but equal." The law takes effect June 7.

More News to Cheer This Week:

  • Female prisoners should be allowed temporary release from jail to visit their children, a British High Court judge ruled, The Daily Mail reported Feb. 14.
  • The U.S. Embassy has handed over two new ambulances and other gear to the Islamabad Women’s Police Station, The South Asian News Agency reported Feb. 15.
  • Mexican federal prosecutors say they have detained four people who for almost a decade lured unsuspecting young Mexican women to the United States to force them into prostitution, reported the Associated Press Feb. 15.
  • Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes urged Congress and President Obama to renew the Violence Against Women Act in column appearing in The NY Daily News Feb. 15.
  • House lawmakers inWashington State passed a bill requiring health insurers covering maternity care to also pay for abortions,  SeattlePi.com reported Feb. 14.
  • President Obama preserved $296 million in the Title X Family Planning Program in his 2013 budget plan, Planned Parenthood said in a Feb. 13 press statement. The budget also calls for nearly $105 million for teen pregnancy, keeping 2012 funding levels.
  • Eve Ensler, Tony Award-winning playwright and activist, wants to mobilize one billion people worldwide to stand against violence, culminating on Feb. 14, 2013, with people walking out of work, school or wherever they are next Valentine’s Day and dancing together in solidarity against violence, her V-Day organization announced Feb. 14 in a press statement.
  • Egypt’s head of the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi ordered the formation of the National Council for Women, one year after it had been dissolved following the ouster of former president Hosni Mubarak, Bikya Masr reported Feb.12.
  • Pregnant women with cancer can be treated and receive chemotherapy with minimal risk for the fetus, Europeans researchers found, The Washington Post reported Feb. 11. A Belgian-led study of 70 children in Europe exposed to chemotherapy while they were in the womb found they developed just as well as other children, according to tests on their hearts, IQ and general health.
  • NARAL Pro-Choice America, which supports abortion rights, is airing radio ads in four swing state defending President Obama for seeking to require that all insurance companies cover contraception in their basic plans, The Hill reported Feb. 13.

Jeers

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A U.S. House committee hearing’s first panel on contraception coverage included no women, reported The Nation Feb. 16. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), held a hearing titled "Lines Crossed: Separation of Church and State. Has the Obama Administration Trampled on Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Conscience?" Issa’s staff sent a letter to the Democrats, saying, "the hearing is not about reproductive rights but instead about the administration’s actions as they relate to freedom of religion and conscience."

In an email sent to supporters Feb. 17, Sen. Kirstin Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said she was "outraged" by the absence of female speakers at the House oversight committee hearing, Politicker.com reported.

"I don’t know about you but I was outraged yesterday when the House held a hearing on birth control, without including a single woman on the opening panel," she wrote.

Witnesses scheduled for the second panel included two women, both of whom were against the current contraception policy.

More News to Jeer This Week:

  • Two female Republican U.S. Senators who have a history of voting for pro-choice legislation are supporting a bill that would allow employers to opt out of covering contraception in health care plans if they have a moral objection, according to the Portland Press Herald Feb. 14.
  • Under pressure from the country’s highest body of Islamic scholars, Afghanistan has told female television hosts that they must stop appearing without a headscarf and that they should also wear less makeup, reported the AFP via Pakistan’s Express Tribune Feb. 15.
  • Women are just 21.7 percent of guests on Sunday morning news talk shows airing on NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, and Fox News. That was one of many findings on women’s minimal media presence contained in a Feb. 13 report by the Women’s Media Center.
  • The number of pregnancy-discrimination charges increased about 15 percent in the last 10 years, reaching 5,797 last year, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, MSNBC reported Feb. 15.
  • Twice as many women as men in the United Kingdom lost their jobs in the last three months of 2011, reported The Telegraph Feb. 15.
  • Little progress has been made into the investigation of a government program that sterilized more than 300,000 Peruvian women, reported the Associated Press Feb. 14.
  • Virginia’s House has passed legislation to define life as beginning at conception, Richmond Times-Dispatch reported Jan. 14. The House also voted 63-36 to order women to undergo transvaginal ultrasounds before abortion, which requires a probe to be inserted into the vagina.
  • Marc Jacobs hired at least two models who were under 16 for his show, in spite of the new guidelines issued by the Council of Fashion Designers of America, The New York Times reported Feb. 14.
  • Women in the restaurant industry continue to face systematic discrimination and still make far less money than counterparts, according to a report released by The Restaurant Opportunities Center, The Huffington Post reported Feb. 14.
  • No women were appointed in the new government in Kuwait, Boston.com reported Feb 14. It’s the first time since 2005 that women are absent from Kuwait’s top political affairs.
  • Violence against women costs Egypt $24.2 billion a year finds a research paper by Hamdi al-Henawy, professor of social economy, The Egypt Independent reported Feb. 13.
  • Fox News contributor Liz Trotta criticized the Department of Defense for increasing spending on support programs for victims of sexual assault, Media Matters reported Feb. 13. "Well, what did they expect? These people are in close contact," Trotta said.

Noted:

  • The likelihood of marrying an individual of a different race or ethnicity can vary by gender, according to a Pew report released Feb. 16. In 2010, African American men were more than twice as likely to marry outside their race as women. For Asians, women were about twice as likely as men to marry outside their race. Intermarriage rates among white and Hispanic newlyweds did not vary by gender.
  • The chairman of the London 2012 Olympics said that while the games should encourage gender inclusivity in countries that fail to send female athletes, "sport is not the panacea for all ills," reported Reuters Feb. 17.
  • Women’s advocacy organizations are launching information campaigns about Republican Presidential candidate Rick Santorum and statements he made in the past about birth control, CBS News reported Feb. 15.
  • A CNN/ORC International poll shows that GOP hopeful Rick Santorum has a 10-point lead among Republican men while rival Mitt Romney has a nine-point lead among Republican women, CNN reports Feb. 15.
  • Women with advanced degrees in scientific fields drop out of fast-track research careers primarily because they want children, The Science Daily reported Feb. 14. Motherhood is "detrimental" to women’s professional lives, concludes a study at Cornell University brushing aside the discriminative factor.
  • A former White House intern and mistress of John F. Kennedy claims that the President tried to make her have an abortion after he feared he had made her pregnant, The Daily Mail reported Feb .13.

In Memoriam:

Singer Whitney Houston died Saturday in her hotel room in Beverly Hills, ABC News reported Feb. 12. She captivated audiences with her powerful voice while battling drug addiction and a rocky marriage with Bobby Brown. Houston was 48 years old.

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