Changing of the Guards ~ Communications Vice President Paradise Resigns

My Fellow Virginia NOW Officers & Members,

It is with deep sadness that I inform you I will no longer be serving as an officer of Virginia NOW. I have been with this organization since I was 15 years old and it has been a remarkable journey. It has my privilege to grow up with Virginia NOW and it has been my privilege to know all of you. I will miss you dearly.

The two things I am most proud of during my time with Virginia NOW are the creation of the first ever Virginia NOW website and founding the Virginia Foremothers Oral History Project, where I was introduced to the most inspirational women I could ever hope to be in the presence of. It has been my greatest honor to assist in the preservation of their stories in both video and audio format.

In light of recent events under new management, I will be needing to find a new home for the Virginia Foremothers Oral History Project. Perhaps a women’s history museum would be appropriate. I will also be needing to find a new home for the content of the website I created for Virginia NOW. As I will not be a part of the upcoming website redesign, I will be endeavoring to find the best way to continue to share with you all of the information, tools, and resources that I built into our current website.

I would like to thank my web editor, Katie Regan, for her friendship, solidarity, and her support.

I must carry on now. I wish you all great happiness and joy in your present and future endeavors. Be well, always.

In Love and Revolution,
Virginia NOW
Communications Vice President ♦️ Webmistress

“If I can’t dance, I’m not coming to your revolution.” – Emma Goldman

Surveillance Under the USA/PATRIOT Act

Courtesy of the American Civil Liberties Union

What is the “USA/Patriot” Act?

Just six weeks after the September 11 attacks, a panicked Congress passed the “USA/Patriot Act,” an overnight revision of the nation’s surveillance laws that vastly expanded the government’s authority to spy on its own citizens, while simultaneously reducing checks and balances on those powers like judicial oversight, public accountability, and the ability to challenge government searches in court.

Why Congress passed the Patriot Act

Most of the changes to surveillance law made by the Patriot Act were part of a longstanding law enforcement wish list that had been previously rejected by Congress, in some cases repeatedly.  Congress reversed course because it was bullied into it by the Bush Administration in the frightening weeks after the September 11 attack.

The Senate version of the Patriot Act, which closely resembled the legislation requested by Attorney General John Ashcroft, was sent straight to the floor with no discussion, debate, or hearings.  Many Senators complained that they had little chance to read it, much less analyze it, before having to vote.  In the House, hearings were held, and a carefully constructed compromise bill emerged from the Judiciary Committee. But then, with no debate or consultation with rank-and-file members, the House leadership threw out the compromise bill and replaced it with legislation that mirrored the Senate version.  Neither discussion nor amendments were permitted, and once again members barely had time to read the thick bill before they were forced to cast an up-or-down vote on it.  The Bush Administration implied that members who voted against it would be blamed for any further attacks – a powerful threat at a time when the nation was expecting a second attack to come any moment and when reports of new anthrax letters were appearing daily.

Congress and the Administration acted without any careful or systematic effort to determine whether weaknesses in our surveillance laws had contributed to the attacks, or whether the changes they were making would help prevent further attacks.  Indeed, many of the act’s provisions have nothing at all to do with terrorism.

The Patriot Act increases the government’s power to spy in four areas

The Patriot Act increases the governments surveillance powers in four areas:

  1. Records searches.  It expands the government’s ability to look at records on an individual’s activity being held by a third parties. (Section 215)
  2. Secret searches.  It expands the government’s ability to search private property without notice to the owner. (Section 213)
  3. Intelligence searches.  It expands a narrow exception to the Fourth Amendment that had been created for the collection of foreign intelligence information (Section 218).
  4. “Trap and trace” searches.  It expands another Fourth Amendment exception for spying that collects “addressing” information about the origin and destination of communications, as opposed to the content (Section 214).

1.  Expanded access to personal records held by third parties

One of the most significant provisions of the Patriot Act makes it far easier for the authorities to gain access to records of citizens’ activities being held by a third party.  At a time when computerization is leading to the creation of more and more such records, Section 215 of the Patriot Act allows the FBI to force anyone at all – including doctors, libraries, bookstores, universities, and Internet service providers – to turn over records on their clients or customers.

Unchecked power
The result is unchecked government power to rifle through individuals’ financial records, medical histories, Internet usage, bookstore purchases, library usage, travel patterns, or any other activity that leaves a record.  Making matters worse:

  • The government no longer has to show evidence that the subjects of search orders are an “agent of a foreign power,” a requirement that previously protected Americans against abuse of this authority.
  • The FBI does not even have to show a reasonable suspicion that the records are related to criminal activity, much less the requirement for “probable cause” that is listed in the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution.  All the government needs to do is make the broad assertion that the request is related to an ongoing terrorism or foreign intelligence investigation.
  • Judicial oversight of these new powers is essentially non-existent.  The government must only certify to a judge – with no need for evidence or proof – that such a search meets the statute’s broad criteria, and the judge does not even have the authority to reject the application.
  • Surveillance orders can be based in part on a person’s First Amendment activities, such as the books they read, the Web sites they visit, or a letter to the editor they have written.
  • A person or organization forced to turn over records is prohibited from disclosing the search to anyone.  As a result of this gag order, the subjects of surveillance never even find out that their personal records have been examined by the government.  That undercuts an important check and balance on this power: the ability of individuals to challenge illegitimate searches. 
The law before the Patriot Act The law under the Patriot Act
When can the Patriot Act be used? To gather foreign intelligence or investigate international terrorism To gather foreign intelligence or protect against international terrorism
What can the FBI demand be turned over?  “records” “any tangible things (including books, records, papers, documents, and other items)”
Who can they demand information about? Only people who the FBI has evidence are an “agent of a foreign power” Anyone
Who can they demand it from? Only common carriers, public accommodation facilities, physical storage facilities, or vehicle rental facilities Any entity (including bookstores and libraries)

Why the Patriot Act’s expansion of records searches is unconstitutional
Section 215 of the Patriot Act violates the Constitution in several ways.  It:

  • Violates the Fourth Amendment, which says the government cannot conduct a search without obtaining a warrant and showing probable cause to believe that the person has committed or will commit a crime.
  • Violates the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech by prohibiting the recipients of search orders from telling others about those orders, even where there is no real need for secrecy.
  • Violates the First Amendment by effectively authorizing the FBI to launch investigations of American citizens in part for exercising their freedom of speech.
  • Violates the Fourth Amendment by failing to provide notice – even after the fact – to persons whose privacy has been compromised.  Notice is also a key element of due process, which is guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment.

2. More secret searches

For centuries, common law has required that the government can’t go into your property without telling you, and must therefore give you notice before it executes a search.   That “knock and announce” principle has long been recognized as a part of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution.

The Patriot Act, however, unconstitutionally amends the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure to allow the government to conduct searches without notifying the subjects, at least until long after the search has been executed.  This means that the government can enter a house, apartment or office with a search warrant when the occupants are away, search through their property, take photographs, and in some cases even seize property – and not tell them until later.

Notice is a crucial check on the government’s power because it forces the authorities to operate in the open, and allows the subject of searches to protect their Fourth Amendment rights.  For example, it allows them to point out irregularities in a warrant, such as the fact that the police are at the wrong address, or that the scope of the warrant is being exceeded (for example, by rifling through dresser drawers in a search for a stolen car).  Search warrants often contain limits on what may be searched, but when the searching officers have complete and unsupervised discretion over a search, a property owner cannot defend his or her rights.

Finally, this new “sneak and peek” power can be applied as part of normal criminal investigations; it has nothing to do with fighting terrorism or collecting foreign intelligence.

3. Expansion of the intelligence exception in wiretap law

Under the Patriot Act, the FBI can secretly conduct a physical search or wiretap on American citizens to obtain evidence of crime without proving probable cause, as the Fourth Amendment explicitly requires.

A 1978 law called the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) created an exception to the Fourth Amendment’s requirement for probable cause when the purpose of a wiretap or search was to gather foreign intelligence.  The rationale was that since the search was not conducted for the purpose of gathering evidence to put someone on trial, the standards could be loosened.  In a stark demonstration of why it can be dangerous to create exceptions to fundamental rights, however, the Patriot Act expanded this once-narrow exception to cover wiretaps and searches that DO collect evidence for regular domestic criminal cases.  FISA previously allowed searches only if the primary purpose was to gather foreign intelligence.  But the Patriot Act changes the law to allow searches when “a significant purpose” is intelligence.  That lets the government circumvent the Constitution’s probable cause requirement even when its main goal is ordinary law enforcement.

The eagerness of many in law enforcement to dispense with the requirements of the Fourth Amendment was revealed in August 2002 by the secret court that oversees domestic intelligence spying (the “FISA Court”).  Making public one of its opinions for the first time in history, the court revealed that it had rejected an attempt by the Bush Administration to allow criminal prosecutors to use intelligence warrants to evade the Fourth Amendment entirely.  The court also noted that agents applying for warrants had regularly filed false and misleading information.  That opinion is now on appeal. [link to FISA page]

4. Expansion of the “pen register” exception in wiretap law

Another exception to the normal requirement for probable cause in wiretap law is also expanded by the Patriot Act.  Years ago, when the law governing telephone wiretaps was written, a distinction was created between two types of surveillance.  The first allows surveillance of the content or meaning of a communication, and the second only allows monitoring of the transactional or addressing information attached to a communication. It is like the difference between reading the address printed on the outside of a letter, and reading the letter inside, or listening to a phone conversation and merely recording the phone numbers dialed and received.

Wiretaps limited to transactional or addressing information are known as “Pen register/trap and trace” searches (for the devices that were used on telephones to collect telephone numbers).  The requirements for getting a PR/TT warrant are essentially non-existent:  the FBI need not show probable cause or even reasonable suspicion of criminal activity.  It must only certify to a judge – without having to prove it – that such a warrant would be “relevant” to an ongoing criminal investigation. And the judge does not even have the authority to reject the application.

The Patriot Act broadens the pen register exception in two ways:

“Nationwide” pen register warrants
Under the Patriot Act PR/TT orders issued by a judge are no longer valid only in that judge’s jurisdiction, but can be made valid anywhere in the United States.  This “nationwide service” further marginalizes the role of the judiciary, because a judge cannot meaningfully monitor the extent to which his or her order is being used.  In addition, this provision authorizes the equivalent of a blank warrant: the court issues the order, and the law enforcement agent fills in the places to be searched. That is a direct violation of the Fourth Amendment’s explicit requirement that warrants be written “particularly describing the place to be searched.”

Pen register searches applied to the Internet
The Patriot Act applies the distinction between transactional and content-oriented wiretaps to the Internet. The problem is that it takes the weak standards for access to transactional data and applies them to communications that are far more than addresses.  On an e-mail message, for example, law enforcement has interpreted the “header” of a message to be transactional information accessible with a PR/TT warrant.  But in addition to routing information, e-mail headers include the subject line, which is part of the substance of a communication – on a letter, for example, it would clearly be inside the envelope.

The government also argues that the transactional data for Web surfing is a list of the URLs or Web site addresses that a person visits.  For example, it might record the fact that they visited “” at 1:15 in the afternoon, and then skipped over to “” at 1:30.  This claim that URLs are just addressing data breaks down in two different ways:

  • Web addresses are rich and revealing content.  The URLs or “addresses” of the Web pages we read are not really addresses, they are the titles of documents that we download from the Internet.  When we “visit” a Web page what we are really doing is downloading that page from the Internet onto our computer, where it is displayed.  Therefore, the list of URLs that we visit during a Web session is really a list of the documents we have downloaded – no different from a list of electronic books we might have purchased online.  That is much richer information than a simple list of the people we have communicated with; it is intimate information that reveals who we are and what we are thinking about – much more like the content of a phone call than the number dialed.  After all, it is often said that reading is a “conversation” with the author.
  • Web addresses contain communications sent by a surfer.  URLs themselves often have content embedded within them.  A search on the Google search engine, for example, creates a page with a custom-generated URL that contains material that is clearly private content, such as:

Similarly, if I fill out an online form – to purchase goods or register my preferences, for example – those products and preferences will often be identified in the resulting URL.

The erosion of accountability

Attempts to find out how the new surveillance powers created by the Patriot Act were implemented during their first year were in vain.  In June 2002 the House Judiciary Committee demanded that the Department of Justice answer questions about how it was using its new authority.  The Bush/Ashcroft Justice Department essentially refused to describe how it was implementing the law; it left numerous substantial questions unanswered, and classified others without justification.  In short, not only has the Bush Administration undermined judicial oversight of government spying on citizens by pushing the Patriot Act into law, but it is also undermining another crucial check and balance on surveillance powers: accountability to Congress and the public. [cite to FOIA page]

Non-surveillance provisions

Although this fact sheet focuses on the direct surveillance provisions of the Patriot Act, citizens should be aware that the act also contains a number of other provisions.  The Act:

  • Puts CIA back in business of spying on Americans. The Patriot Act gives the Director of Central Intelligence the power to identify domestic intelligence requirements.  That opens the door to the same abuses that took place in the 1970s and before, when the CIA engaged in widespread spying on protest groups and other Americans.
  • Creates a new crime of “domestic terrorism.” The Patriot Act transforms protesters into terrorists if they engage in conduct that “involves acts dangerous to human life” to “influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion.”  How long will it be before an ambitious or politically motivated prosecutor uses the statute to charge members of controversial activist groups like Operation Rescue or Greenpeace with terrorism?  Under the Patriot Act, providing lodging or assistance to such “terrorists” exposes a person to surveillance or prosecution.  Furthermore, the law gives the attorney general and the secretary of state the power to detain or deport any non-citizen who belongs to or donates money to one of these broadly defined “domestic terrorist” groups.
  • Allows for the indefinite detention of non-citizens.  The Patriot Act gives the attorney general unprecedented new power to determine the fate of immigrants.  The attorney general can order detention based on a certification that he or she has “reasonable grounds to believe” a non-citizen endangers national security.  Worse, if the foreigner does not have a country that will accept them, they can be detained indefinitely without trial.


Thank you to the ACLU for taking a stand for our civil liberties!


In Revolution,

Virginia NOW
Communications Vice President

So all these companies making money off your personal information, do you receive a check?

The state of California is the furthest along in establishing privacy laws for its people. This includes medical privacy, internet privacy, as well as laws that restrict businesses, medical facilities, the internet from using your personal information to make money for themselves. After all, do you receive a check from the profits they make off of you?

California Law – Constitutional Right to Privacy

California Privacy Rights Include:

Public Record Exemption for Sex Offense Victims California Government Code section 6254 and California Penal Code section 293. These laws prohibit the disclosure of the names and addresses of victims of specific sex-related crimes in documents provided in response to requests for records, including responses provided under the California Public Records Act.
Domestic Violence Victim Privacy – California Civil Code section 1798.79.8 This law prohibits a domestic violence victim service provider from being required to reveal the personally identifying information of its clients or potential clients as a part of applying for or receiving grants or financial assistance for its services. It defines “victim service provider” to mean a non-governmental organization that provides shelter or services to victims of domestic violence.

Medical Information, Collection for Direct Marketing Purposes – California Civil Code section1798.91. This law prohibits a business from seeking to obtain medical information from an individual for direct marketing purposes without, (1) clearly disclosing how the information will be used and shared, and (2) getting the individual’s consent.

Medical Information Confidentiality – California Civil Code sections 56-56.37.This law puts limits on the disclosure of patients’ medical information by medical providers, health plans, pharmaceutical companies, and many businesses organized for the purpose of maintaining medical information. It specifically prohibits many types of marketing uses and disclosures. It requires an electronic health or medical record system to protect the integrity of electronic medical information and to automatically record and preserve any change or deletion.

Court Records: Protection of Victim and Witness Information – California Penal Code section 964.This law requires the district attorney and the courts in each county to establish a procedure to protect confidential personal information regarding any witness or victim contained in a police report, arrest report, or investigative report submitted to a court by a prosecutor in support of a criminal complaint, indictment, or information, or by a prosecutor or law enforcement officer in support of a search warrant or an arrest warrant.

The state of Virginia has no procedure in place to protect an individual’s privacy regarding public court records.  Instead of protecting victim/witness information, Virginia has the opposite law –>  Virginia Freedom of Information Act.




Disposal of Customer Records – California Civil Code sections 1798.80 – 1798.81 and 1798.84.These sections require businesses to shred, erase or otherwise modify the personal information when disposing of customer records under their control. It provides a “safe harbor” from civil litigation for a business that has come into possession of records containing personal information that were abandoned, so long as the business disposes of them as provided in the statute.

Electronic Eavesdropping – California Penal Code sections 630-638. Among other things, this law prohibits, with exceptions, electronic eavesdropping on or recording of private communications by telephone, radio telephone, cellular radio telephone, cable or any other device or in any other manner.  It prohibits cable TV and satellite TV operators from monitoring or recording conversations in a subscriber’s residence, or from sharing individually identifiable information on subscriber viewing habits or other personal information without written consent (section 637.5).

Electronic Surveillance in Rental Cars – California Civil Code section 1936. This law prohibits vehicle rental companies from using, accessing, or obtaining information relating to a renter’s use of a rental vehicle obtained using onboard electronic surveillance technology, except in limited circumstances. It requires rental companies to obtain a renter’s consent before using or disclosing information about the renter’s use of the vehicle.

Employment of OffendersCalifornia Penal Code section 4017.1 and Penal Code section 5071 and California Welfare and Institutions Code section 219.5. Prison and county jail inmates may not have jobs that give them access to personal information. The same prohibitions apply to offenders performing community service in lieu of a fine or custody.

Identification Devices, Prohibition on Bodily Implanting – California Civil Code section 52.7.This law prohibits a person from requiring, coercing, or compelling any other individual to undergo the subcutaneous implanting of an identification device. The law specifically requires that it be liberally construed to protect privacy and bodily integrity. The law also provides for the assessment of civil penalties for violation, as specified, and allows an aggrieved party to bring an action for damages and injunctive relief, subject to a 3-year statute of limitation, or as otherwise provided.



Virginia NOW’s Elections — Coming Up Soon!

Elections are near and we’re very excited! The official date is still tentative, but please mark your calendars for August, bookmarking the Virginia NOW’s Statewide Bi-annual Elections!   

Don’t forget to also check out our available staff positions! We have local and statewide openings, as well as executive and appointed openings! We welcome you to be a part of the team!

You Could Be Our Newly Elected

President, Vice President, VP of Communications, VP of Legislation, VP of Membership

Or Appointed Our New

Lobbying Director, PAC President, PAC Treasurer, ERA Coordinator, Programs Coordinator, Party Representative

Bolded positions emphasize our most desired positions.

Position descriptions here.

To submit yourself for candidacy, click here.

Note for Elections: You must be a member to run for all Virginia NOW positions and also a member to vote, so be sure to have your NOW Membership ID on hand. Options will be provided to vote online and via telephone to up-to-date Virginia NOW members.

If you don’t know your Membership ID and can’t locate your ID card, you can phone National NOW at 202-628-8669, extension x 112 for assistance. 

See you at the elections! 

Happy Independence Day!

Paradise Kendra

Communications VP/Webmistress

Virginia NOW (*)(*)(*)

We’re Expanding Our Staff and Our Programs!

Staff openings at both the state and local level!


Initiatives for Participation

Communications Department

–  a background in art, communications, promotion, social media marketing, public relations, advertising

Available Positions

Virginia NOW Programs Director
● Arlington NOW Publicity Director 

Party/Event Planning and Fundraising Department
event planning and fundraising background

Available Positions

Virginia NOW Party Representative

Outreach Department
passion for interacting

Available Positions

Virginia NOW Outreach Director
● Virginia NOW Membership Development

Finance Department

crunching numbers

 Available Positions

Virginia NOW PAC Treasurer
● Arlington NOW Treasurer


Upcoming election VERY SOON!


Executive Elected Positions
State Chapter

(Elected by majority vote at state conference, state council meeting every other year – or by electronic vote!)


  • Executive Vice President
  • PAC Treasurer

  These are elected positions. Unlike appointed positions you will have to wait until the next upcoming election to begin your official term.  Members of Virginia NOW can run for any executive position (except for Treasurer), but these positions are specially highlighted and seeking immediate candidates.  Staff positions are currently unpaid.

Appointed Staff Positions
State Chapter

(Positions specially selected by executive officers for their expertise)

Virginia Chapter Position Openings
Local Chapter

  • Arlington Vice President  (Elected)
  • Arlington Treasurer  (Elected)
  • Arlington Publicity Director  (Appointed)
Click HERE for details on joining our staff!


Love and Revolution,

Paradise Kendra
Communications VP/Webmistress

Virginia NOW (*)(*)(*)

Take Action – Keep Virginia’s Health Centers Open!

In a huge victory for women’s health, the Virginia Board of Health voted to amend medically-unnecessary “TRAP” restrictions designed to shut down women’s health centers. The Board’s vote was the first step toward ensuring that rules for women’s health centers are based on medicine, not politics. But we’re not done yet and we need your help.

We have until February 11 to tell the Board we support their vote.

The ACLU of Virginia has set up a special website with suggested messages and the link to the public comment website. Please take a minute to visit the site and make your comment before February 11.

The restrictions on women’s health centers are about denying access to abortion, period. Three of 21 women’s health centers in Virginia have been forced to close or stop providing abortion services, in part due to these restrictions. If the restrictions remain unchanged, additional health centers will close – cutting off access to preventive health care such as cancer screenings to thousands of Virginia women.

Please submit your comment now.

Thank you for all you do every day for women and girls.
Marj Signer

Virginia NOW Legislative Vice-President

Special Election: Tomorrow, January 6th!

Don’t forget tomorrow’s special election, Tuesday January 6th:

Virginia NOW has endorsed Kathleen Murphy to represent your delegate district, the 34th, in the General Assembly. The election is Tuesday, January 6th. Polls are open from 6 am to 7 pm at your regular voting place.

Use the 19th!

Paradise Kendra
Communications VP
Virginia NOW


Good News for Reproductive Freedom!

(Recap from December)

Board of Health to amend TRAP!  ProChoiceAvatar

On December 4th, the Virginia Board of Health voted to move forward with amending the state’s targeted regulations on abortion providers (TRAP)!

This doesn’t repeal TRAP, but it gives us the opportunity to do so.

The 13-2 decision comes after years of fighting dangerous and medically-unnecessary restrictions. This crucial vote means we get another shot to ensure that abortion providers are not forced to comply with regulations that were specifically designed with the intention of being impossible to meet —  so that all but 4 of Virginia’s 18 abortion providing clinics would have to close.

These regulations have been designed to restrict, and even end women’s access to abortion and her right to choice.

We still have a long way to go but we now have the opportunity and are making lives better for women in Virginia!  This is because of you!

Happy New Year!
Paradise Kendra
Virginia NOW
Communications VP, Webmistress


Keep the pressure on Illinois legislators, it’s working! #RatifyERA

If you are calling Illinois about the #ERA today, please call ONLY the legislators on the list attached. UPDATED call list to #RatifyERA in Illinois, plus scripts and talking points at the link!

Calls are flooding in, on both sides, to all offices, and staffers are unable to do anything else. Hurray!  But let’s focus just these 10 or so.

Pro-Life and Schalfley lobbyists are also in the house. This is not over and we’re not finished!

Courtesy of

Would you like to make a few calls for the ERA?

All legislators on this list are considering voting YES on the ERA in Illinois!

Call numbers, email addresses, a script, and talking points below…

Once a legislator is moved to YES, please confirm carefully.
Then ask that legislator to contact Rep. Lou Lang in order to confirm their support for the bill SJRCA0075
Please also contact Jeanne Dauray either via mobile phone at (814) 598-8532 or via email at to report the change.

State Rep’s First Name State Rep’s Last Name Party District Springfield Office # District Office # Email
Daniel Beiser D 111 (217) 782-5996 (618) 465-5900
Brandon Phelps D 118 (217) 782-5131 (618) 253-4189
Jerry Costello D 116 (217) 782-1018 (618) 282-7284
Sue Scherer D 96 (217) 524-0353 (217) 877-9636
Dennis Reboletti R 45 (217) 782-4014 (630) 628-0045
Ed Sullivan, Jr. R 51 (217) 782-3696 (847) 566-5115
Sandra M. Pihos R 48 (217) 782-8037 (630) 858-8855
Katherine Cloonen D 79 (217) 782-5981 (815) 939-1983
John Cabello R 68 (217) 782-0455 (815) 282-0083
John E. Bradley D 117 (217) 782-1051 (618) 997-9697
Michael Tryon R 66 (217) 782-0432 (815) 459-6453
Robert Pritchard R 70 (217) 782-0425 (815) 748-3494

Call Script for Tuesday, December 1st

Hi, my name is __________ and I am a voter. I know that the Equal Rights Amendment, bill SJRCA 0075, is coming up for a vote Wednesday and I want Rep. _________ to vote YES on the ERA.

This is an issue for me because my (daughter, grand-daughter, sister, mother, etc.)…
…lives in (insert state here) where there is no equality for women.
…could live or work in a state in the future where there is no equality for women.

Without a United States Constitutional amendment, equality is not guaranteed. For instance, in April of 2013 Wisconsin removed their equal pay clause. Therefore, this vote in Illinois has the potential to extend the rights that women in Illinois enjoy, to all 50 states. Thus, I would expect that Rep. _______ will be voting YES on the ERA during the session.

Additionally, I know that many people are concerned about how pro-life issues will be impacted by this amendment. The truth is, it will actually help reduce abortions. Countries that have passed an ERA have seen documented increases in their GDP. This means that the pay for women increased, and economic security for women and their families increased too. When that happens, we know the number of abortions go down, since women often choose abortion due to poor economic circumstances. The increased economic security that ERA would bring also means that less people would need government assistance programs. Thus, the ERA is a win-win situation for everyone.

Would you please pass this information along to Rep. _________ and confirm their position on this bill? They may also contact Rep. Lou Lang to confirm their support for the ERA.


Important Call Tips and Information…

  • If you live in the legislator’s district, please identify yourself as such. It is VERY important. If you are a resident of Illinois, please also identify yourself as such.
  • No matter who you call on the list, please keep your conversations positive, hopeful, respectful, and filled with expectation that these legislators will do the right thing. All the legislators on this list have expressed support for the ERA at one point or another, and many are actively searching for ways to continue expressing that support. Many live in very conservative districts, rural districts, and pro-life districts which include constituencies that may have difficulty and reservations about supporting the ERA, as well as groups within that are actively opposing the ERA. Illinois is a battleground state when it comes to the ERA and you are calling into the heart of those areas. Be cautious and extraordinarily diplomatic. We are confident you can do this!
  • Pro-Life Districts: If you are calling a pro-life district, please be respectful and supportive of the legislator and sensitive to their position. Also, keep in mind that these legislators were asked by Right to Life, who provided their November election endorsements, to vote against the ERA. That being said, our campaign is currently seeking information from appropriate organizations to demonstrate how they can still be pro-life and pro-ERA based on pro-life principles, beliefs, and concerns. Some information you may want to use (see below) is that the ERA helps lift women out of poverty and thus, reduces the number of abortions.
  • Given that Illinois has an ERA in their state constitution that has existed since 1970, you may want to mention that to these legislators, and state that as a result, nothing will change for their constituents in the state of Illinois, but it could improve the economic situation for women outside of Illinois, which includes a lot of grandmothers, mothers, sisters, aunts, daughters, and grand-daughters of Illinois residents.


Answering questions…

Is this necessary?  Yes, because right now women have no constitutional guarantee of equality. Current laws can be changed, amended, and challenged. This is of concern being as US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has already stated he believes women DO NOT have protection from sex discrimination currently.

Are wages really unequal?  Yes, even after all possible impact factors such as education, job performance, time off to care for children, and other items are taken out of the equation, women in the United States still take home less pay. It breaks down like this: For every $1.00 a man makes, an Asian American woman makes .87 cents, a White woman makes .78 cents, an African American woman makes .64 cents, a Native American woman makes .60 cents, and Latinas only get .53 cents for that same dollar. That means Latina women are making about half the pay for the same work!

Couldn’t this serve to actually hurt women?  No. In fact, the ERA is already enshrined in the Illinois State Constitution and has been since 1970. Interestingly enough, none of the horrific consequences have come to pass as predicted by those who oppose the ERA, and the women of Illinois actually enjoy better economic outcomes than many of their counterparts in states that do not have an ERA.

If Illinois already has an ERA, why should I support this?  Because many states do not have an ERA and thus, not all women are protected. Additionally, federal laws and the US Constitution generally override state laws and constitutions in many instances. This creates a situation where equality is not a sure and guaranteed thing for all women in the United States.

Hasn’t the ratification deadline passed?  Yes, it has, however, deadlines can be extended or erased, and there is precedent for resurrecting old amendments, such as the 27th amendment, which was ratified after 203 years. Additionally, there is legislation currently moving through the US House and Senate to remove the deadline for the ERA.

Why are we doing this now?  We have been actually trying to do this for sometime, in fact the Illinois State House passed this back in 2003, but did not get Senate support. Now we have Senate support and do not want to pass up on this opportunity. Also, it is not just happening in Illinois. This legislation is in fact moving through multiple state houses currently, but Illinois is most likely to be the first to pass the amendment.

What does the amendment say exactly?
Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.
Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.

But I am Pro-Life?  Pro-life does not mean anti-woman. You can be pro-life and pro-ERA. In fact, a long line of Catholic bishops have signed on in support of the ERA, and we are currently contacting them so that they make their voices heard once again on this important issue. Additionally, the biggest reason women choose abortions in this country is due to poor economic circumstances. Thus, we already know that when women are provided with economic security, abortion rates go down, therefore the ERA can help strengthen the economic circumstances of women nationally and reduce the number of abortions. Not only that, but there is no abortion language in the federal ERA we are supporting. In some states, they have included specific language, which has affected laws in relation to abortion, but the federal ERA has no such language.


Merry Christmas to All and to All Equal Rights!
Paradise Kendra
Virginia NOW

Communications VP, Webmistress

IL to VOTE on ERA Thursday, ACT NOW!

From the Coalition on the ground in IL today, see below. Easy things to do to support their lobbying. They will meet with legislators today. A vote on the ERA is scheduled for tomorrow, but the speaker of the IL House (and the most powerful politician in IL) isn’t coming to work to convene the House for business. His name is Michael Madigan, he’s chair of the Democratic Party of Illinois, and you (or the press) can contact his office here: (773) 581-8000. He’s not on social media, but this satirical Twitter account is:  @KingofIL.

Newspapers to contact: Chicago Tribune ( ,  St. Louis Post Dispatch ( , and the Belleville  News Democrat (, St. Louis Beacon (from public radio station:

(*) (*) (*) (*) (*)

ERA Action in collaboration with other activist groups including PDA ERA 3 State Strategy Team, Illinois NOW, AAUW, Katrina’s Dream will be on the ground in Springfield, IL, Wednesday, November 19 to ensure the “Land of Lincoln” becomes the first state to #RatifyERA in the 21st Century.

WE NEED YOUR HELP NOW! The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) will be moved to a final vote in the Illinois House of Representatives in the first few days of the Veto Session. Likely dates for the vote are Thursday, November 20th or Tuesday, December 2nd. However, the vote depends on two things: 1) Having the last handful of YES commitments for votes from Illinois State Representatives and 2) Those Representatives showing up for the vote.

What can you do? A lot actually.

FIRST CALL – You can use this link for a target list of Illinois State Representatives to call, along with a call script that will work whether you live in district, in Illinois, or anywhere in the US.

SECOND SIGN PETITION – You can sign the following petition by clicking this link urging House members to vote YES for ratification of the ERA in Illinois. The petition will be presented to Representative Lou Lang to show the solidarity we have with him, the women of Illinois, and all supporters of the ERA in this fight. And please share the petition on Facebook and Twitter.

THIRD – Use this link to get access to additional information and talking points on the ERA, Twitter hashtags, Twitter address for legislators in Illinois, and other resources. SPECIAL THANKS to Simone Roberts of Virginia NOW who created this list and graciously made it available for sharing.

# # #
Simone Roberts
Historian and ERA Coordinator
Virginia NOW   
VirginiaERANetwork (blog for ERA project)

Previous Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: