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Friday, November 28, 2008

Fabulously Feminist News

Emily's List Executive Director Named White House Communications Director

11/26/2008 - Ellen Moran, Executive Director of Emily's List since 2005, was named as the next White House Communications Director by President-Elect Barack Obama Saturday. Obama also revealed who will fill other key positions on his communications team. Robert Gibbs, the Obama campaign's communications director, will be Press Secretary and Daniel Pfeiffer, an Obama campaign spokesman and communications director for the transition, will be Deputy Communications Director, according to the New York Times.

Moran's selection is being called a 'surprise' in the media because she is not part of Obama's inner circle and because Emily's List strongly supported Senator Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary contest.

In a statement, Emily's List President and Founder Ellen R. Malcom said: "We are delighted that Ellen Moran has accepted the position of Communications Director at the White House. I know she will do an excellent job for President-elect Obama, just as she has done for EMILY's List and Democratic women around the country. As Executive Director for the past two election cycles, Ellen has done a phenomenal job. She deserves tremendous credit for leading EMILY's List this election cycle as we elected the second largest group of Democratic women in American history. She has been a stalwart ally and true friend for me and I will miss working with her on a daily basis."


Florida's Gay Adoption Ban Ruled Unconstitutional by Circuit Court

11/26/2008 - A circuit court judge ruled Tuesday that a law banning gay and lesbian people from adopting children in Florida is unconstitutional. Judge Cindy S. Lederman ruled that the law violated the equal protection guarantees of the state constitution as well as the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997, a federal law that seeks to ensure the safety and well-being of children in the welfare system and protect children's right to permanency. According to the New York Times the state attorney general's office plans to appeal the decision and the case could reach the Florida Supreme Court.

In her ruling, Judge Lederman wrote: "There is no question, the blanket exclusion of gay applicants defeats Florida's goal of providing dependent children a permanent family through adoption....The best interests of children are not preserved by prohibiting homosexual adoption," according to CNN.

This ruling comes at the heels of a defeat for gay adoption rights advocates in the November elections when a ballot measure that bans unmarried couples from fostering or adopting children was approved by voters in Arkansas. The measure aims to ban gay and lesbian couples from being foster or adoptive parents, but also applies to unmarried heterosexual couples. A similar ban is in place in Utah, where all unmarried couples are barred from adopting or fostering children.

In response to the Florida ruling, Martin Gill, who was represented by the American Civil Liberties Union in the suit said that "Our family just got a lot more to be thankful for this Thanksgiving....We are extremely relieved that the court has recognized that it is wrong to deny our boys the legal protections and security that only come with adoption." Gill and his partner seek to adopt two brothers, ages four and eight, who they have raised since 2004.


International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

11/25/2008 - Today marks the United Nations' (UN) International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. According to the
UN, at least one in three women worldwide "has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime." The economic costs of domestic violence in the United States alone exceed more than $5.8 million each year.

Ines Alberdi, Executive Director of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) outlined in her statement today the key measures that the UN seeks to put in place to combat violence against women worldwide: "prompt police response, health and legal services, free of charge, for poor women and girls; shelter and safe options for women surviving or fleeing life-threatening situations; national hotlines available 24-hours a day to report abuse and seek protection; basic front-line services for emergency and immediate care for women and girls who have suffered abuse and rape; and accountable judiciary and national action plans to end discrimination and promote equality." UNIFEM announced yesterday that they will award $19 million in grants for 23 projects in 29 countries that aim to reduce gender-based violence.

Earlier this year, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon launched a campaign during the UN's 52nd Commission on the Status of Women that seeks an to end violence against women through implementing the aforementioned measures. The campaign, called UNite to End Violence against Women, will run until 2015 and calls for the cooperation of the UN, national governments, and society in general to end global violence against women.


New YWCA Survey Indicates Women’s Priorities for the Obama Administration

11/24/2008 - The YWCA released a new survey today entitled: "What Women Want: A National Survey of Priorities and Concerns". According to their press release, the survey (see PDF) interviewed 1,000 women between 18 and 70 years old by phone nationwide.

The findings indicate generational differences between younger women (18-29) and older women, namely that younger women are more concerned than older women about discrimination based on race or religion. Seventy-seven percent of women under 30 name civil rights and racial justice as top priorities for the Obama administration compared to a little over half of the older women surveyed. However, the survey indicated agreement across generations on naming violence against women as another top priority. Close to 75 percent of women want Obama to address violence against women in his first-year in office.

Lorraine Cole, Chief Executive Officer of YWCA USA, explained the generation gap on racial issues to the Associated Press: "Older women have seen more progress and are therefore more optimistic about racial status, race relations and racial justice issues in this country, so that may be part of the explanation." She added, "Young women do not have that firsthand knowledge, but only go on their personal experiences and experiences of women like them."

The YWCA survey, conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International, has a +/-4 margin of error.

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