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Wednesday (5-15) was Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz' deadline for Catholics in his diocese to quit 12 groups or face excommunication. The list of the groups Bruskewitz deemed unacceptable includes Planned Parenthood, Catholics for a Free Choice, and Call to Action, a group advocating discussion of the ordination of women and married men. Excommunicated Catholics may attend Mass but are not allowed to get married in the church or receive sacraments. Some members of the Lincoln, Nebraska diocese plan to ignore the order.
In a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing on legislation to allow states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states, gay and lesbian rights activists said the measure was divisive and politically motivated. Along with other Democratic colleagues, Rep. Melvin Watt (D-NC) accused supporters of the bill, which would define marriage as the "legal union between one man and one woman," guilty of "fanning the flames of intolerance and seeking to divide people against each other." Rep. Pat Schroeder (D-Colo.) asked her colleagues supporting the bill what part of "all" in "liberty and justice for all" they did not understand.
5/16/1996 - New Breast Cancer Drug Gets FDA Approval
On Wednesday, the Food and Drug Administration approved the new drug Taxotere to treat breast cancer patients who do not respond to standard treatment, including chemotherapy. Given intravenously every three weeks, Taxotere has demonstrated in trials that it can shrink tumors. Like Taxol, an drug approved in 1994 to treat breast cancer, Taxotere can cause serious side effects. Taxotere, in the same family as Taxol, can cause additional loss of white blood cells and can affect liver function
5/15/1996 - Sailor Discharged After Sexually Harassing Women
Chief Petty Officer George Powell has been discharged from the Navy. Powell had been convicted of groping two women sailors - one aboard a commercial airplane in October - was penalized in rank and pay, and was sentenced to 89 days in confinement. Powell, 49, will not receive retirement benefits, but he is eligible to apply for Veterans Administration medical benefits.
The National Basketball Association will be publicizing the U.S. women's basketball team, the first women's national team recruited by USA Basketball a full year before the Olympics. NBA Properties markets the team, negotiating deals between it and corporate sponsors, licensees and television partners. It also creates advertising campaigns and helps plan exhibition games for the team.
Although the $50,000 salary each woman receives from USA Basketball hardly compares to what her male counterparts make, women's basketball is getting increasing coverage on networks, and corporate sponsors pay several hundred thousand dollars for advertising time during the games. Several of the women team members also have their own athletic shoe endorsements. Next summer, the NBA plans to launch a women's league to be located in several NBA cities.
Postmenopausal women taking estrogen therapy may find reduced accuracy in their mammogram screenings for breast cancer. According to Dr. Mary Laya, a University of Washington assistant professor of medicine, estrogen replacement therapy often increases breast tissue density which increases the overall difficulty in reading mammograms. It may also lead a physician to mistakenly diagnose benign but dense breast tissue as cancer, or to miss a small tumor.
One quarter to one third off all postmenopausal women in the U.S. take estrogen replacement drugs to reduce symptoms of menopause or to prevent diseases such as osteoporosis and heart disease. Laya says women having estrogen replacement therapy should be told there may be more false alarms, and that women with a family history of breast cancer need to weigh the risks of the disease against the many benefits of estrogen therapy. In Laya's study, the number of undetected cancers in women taking estrogen was very small.
Candice Gingrich urged her brother Speaker Newt Gingrich to "stop this Congressional gay-bashing" on the eve of a House hearing on an anti-same-sex marriage bill. Candace, an out lesbian said, "The raising of this issue now, at the national level, is nothing more than election-year scapegoating of one group of Americans." While the bill would not outlaw same-sex marriage in any state, it would define marriage federally as the "legal union between one man and one woman" and would allow states to disregard same-sex marriages performed in other states. The bill attempts to head off effects of an expected court decision in Hawaii that would legalize same-sex marriages in the state.
Efforts to raise the minimum wage are favorable to 81 percent of people polled by USA Today/CNN/Gallup. Democrats are leading the fight to raise the minimum wage. The Republican proposal to repeal the gas tax is favored by 56 percent. Of the 3.66 million workers earning the minimum wage of $4.25/hour, 63 percent are women.
North Carolina state representative Ken Miller was publicly censured by the state House of Representatives Monday (5-13) for sexually harassing women. A House Ethics Committee found that Miller had made unwanted advances and inappropriate sexual remarks to three women, including a 16-year-old volunteer page. The committee recommended the public censure after an expulsions proposal failed. The first order of business at the beginning of the 1996 session, the censure was the first public humiliation in the state House since the 1880s. Miller's vote aside, the House voted unanimously to censure. After the listening to the resolution condemning his behavior, Miller left the chamber and proceeded to a legislative clerk's office where he introduced proposed legislation to eliminate welfare programs.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported Monday (5-13) that the University of California allows children of alumni to apply as residents of California, giving them an admissions advantage. California residents can typically be admitted to the UC system with lower grades and test scores than applicants from other states. The "legacy" admissions policy considers children of alumni "bona fide residents."
The findings contradict UC's persistent claim that it does not offer preferences to "legacies," especially since the Board of Regents' July 20 decision to outlaw affirmative action programs for women and people of color. UC officials plan to issue a report on the topic of preference toward well-connected children of VIPs later this week.
The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has decided to reinstate a lawsuit brought by male professors at Virginia Commonwealth University who objected to giving women faculty members pay raises to eliminate disparities in salary. A pay equity study had shown women making far less money than their male counterparts of similar rank and experience. Off the 770 tenured or tenure-track professors in the study, 187 were women. Male full professors made an average of $66,740, while women of the same rank earned an average of $58, 990. After the release of the study, the university spent $440,000 to increase the salaries of women. The men's objections to the pay raises will now be heard by a jury.
Representative Barney Frank (D-Mass.) has called Sen. Dole's anti-same-sex marriage bill a "sleazy" attempt to divide President Clinton and his supporters. While Clinton has said he does not favor same-sex marriages, he has not taken a position on Dole "Defense of Marriage Act" which would define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, and would allow states to discount same-sex marriages performed in other states. Frank calls the move against same-sex marriages "another Willie Horton," citing the negative ads used against 1988 Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis to depict the former Massachusetts Gov. as soft on crime.
Officials at Mitsubishi Motor Corporation announced Tuesday (5-14) that they have hired former Labor Secretary Lynn Martin to investigate claims of sexual harassment at the company's Normal, Ill. plant. The former Republican Congresswoman will investigate the claims filed by the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission in what could be the largest sexual harassment case in U.S. history.
5/13/1996 - Muslim Women Discuss Equal Rights
Two hundred people from 20 nations attended "Beijing and Beyond," a weekend conference called to discuss rights denied to Muslim women and to urge Muslim communities to pursue the goals for the U.N. Fourth World Conference on Women held last September in Beijing, China. The Sisterhood is Global Institute sponsored the conference and issued a background dispelling the notion that male domination of Muslim societies is mandated by the Koran. Asma Khader, president of the Jordanian Women's Union said, "We show that violence against women is against the law, and try to show that our religion does not give this right to men." Commenting that problems confronting Muslim women are shared by non-Muslim women, Yasmeen Murshed of the Bengali Center for Analysis and Choice said, "What confronts us are issues of basic human rights."
5/13/1996 - NOW Protests Mitsubishi
National Organization for Women chapters across the country picketed Mitsubishi auto dealerships this weekend to protest the company's handling of charges of pervasive sexual harassment at its Normal, Ill. plant. Carrying signs that read, "Solutions, not retaliation" and "Mitsubishi, women are watching," the protesters expressed their outrage over Mitsubishi's denial of the claims made by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on the behalf of over 300 women as well as the company's threats to its employees that they could lose their jobs as a result of the allegations and decreased sales.
Mitsubishi has until mid-June to respond to the EEOC lawsuit, but has indicated it is searching for a new law firm to represent the company. After a Friday meeting with EEOC lawyers following a month-long absence of official contact, Chicago EEOC director John Rowe said, "Our essential understanding is that the next contact will be a court filing by Mitsubishi."
As a board member of the "No on CCRI" Campaign and the executive director of the Lawyers Committee on Human Rights in San Francisco, Eva Paterson met with President Clinton last week to discuss his opposition to an anti-affirmative action measure on the November ballot in California. Clinton said he believed the "California Civil Rights Initiative" -- which would eliminate affirmative action and gut sex discrimination law in the state -- can be defeated. Paterson said Clinton said of the measure, "I am against it. What more do I need to say?"
Presumed Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole has endorsed CCRI and is sponsoring federal legislation with similar language that also would end affirmative action and undermine sex discrimination law.
Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto has indicated he may not honor his predecessor's promise to apologize to the 100,000 or more women forced into brothels run by the Imperial Army in World War II. After refusing to assist the women who were kidnapped and forced to have sex with 20 or more soldiers a day, the Japanese government started a private fund last July to make payments to the women. However, the "Asian Women's Fund" has only raised $3.5 million in private donations, far short of the $10-20 million that was expected. Many of the women victims of the wartime atrocities have denounced the fund entirely and called for the government to compensate the women directly. Mutsuko Miki, the most prominent backer of the private fund, recently resigned from the panel after her meeting with Hashimoto earlier this month. Miki said Hashimoto indicated to her that he would not apologize to the women
During his Saturday radio address (5-11), President Clinton asked Congress to pass legislation that would require insurance companies to pay for 48-hour hospital stays for women and their newborn babies. Currently, many insurance companies refuse to pay for stays beyond 24 hours, and some recommend releasing women only eight hours after delivery. Mothers who giving birth by Cesarean section would stay in the hospital for 96 hours under Clinton's proposal instead of the average of 72 hours.
Clinton cited Senate testimony of cases in which babies died after being discharged 24 hours after delivery. Doctors say early discharges result in increased numbers of parents and infants returning to the hospital because of medical complications that initially went undetected during their short stays. Clinton encouraged other insurance companies to follow the lead of insurers such as Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans of Pennsylvania which offer 48-hour minimum coverage.
The Canadian House of Commons overwhelmingly passed legislation Thursday (5-9) to ban discrimination against gays and lesbians. In an amendment to the 19-year-old Human Rights Act, isexual orientationi will be added to a list of characteristics that may not be used to discriminate in the hiring or promoting of workers in federal civil service or regulated businesses, sectors which collectively account for 10 percent of the Canadian work force. The bill may also affect housing and employment benefits in the future. Senate approval is expected
5/10/1996 - Women Denied Parity in Pensions
According to research released Thursday (5-9), women are half as likely to receive employer-provided pensions, and men typically collect more than twice the amount of benefits that women receive. At a National Press Club luncheon for the Women's Research and Education Institute, Labor Secretary Robert Reich called the situation the "glass ceiling of retirement security" and said the nation need to end "this de facto penalty on working mothers." Reich said that nearly two out of three working women do not have pension plans. Women make up nearly half of the work force and number 24 million. More than half of retired men but less than one third of women receive pension benefits other than social security. Women are also only half as likely to be union members which would allow them to receive collectively bargained pension benefits.
According to the Institute's report, women continue to bear most of the responsibility of caring for children, and the number of single, working mothers living in poverty is at an all-time high. Reich said, "Allowing the retirement security of women to diminish because they have taken responsibility for bearing and rearing their children is wrong for women, wrong for families and wrong for America."
A pilot program in Montgomery County, Maryland plans to supply women at risk of being abused by male partners cellular phones to call 911. The county sheriff's office began distributing twenty-five phones donated by Bell Atlantic NYNEX Mobile Thursday (5-9) to women who deputies considered to be in imminent danger. The women, victims of prior abuse and stalking, must be protected by a court order and be in reasonable fear of violence to qualify for the program. The phones will place only outgoing calls to 911. Officials in Montgomery and Frederick Counties are also considering a "panic alarm" necklace to protect women in their homes.
A New York male police officer accused of sexually assaulting and trying to rape a female officer appeared in court Thursday (5-9) on procedural hearings. Prosecutors say that Desmond Robinson tried to force a female officer to have sex in his car after a date. Two passers-by called 911 upon witnessing the struggle, but the woman told the officers the situation was under control, and they failed to take action against the suspect. After they left, Robinson allegedly forced the woman to engage in oral sex. An investigation is underway as to whether the officers responding to the call violated departmental policy in not arresting the Robinson; policy requires police to arrest a domestic violence suspect even if the complainant has second thoughts about pressing charges.
If Virginia honors student Jennie Smith wants to participate in her high school graduation, she may have to wear a dress if school officials refuse her request to wear dress pants. A recent memo to graduating seniors included the graduation dress requirement of "NO SLACKS!" for young women. Smith's mother, Karen wrote a letter to a senior class sponsor asking that her daughter be allowed to wear pants. Broad Run High School principal E. Wayne Griffith had a meeting with Jennie and her twin sister, and later told their mother he would make no exception on the dress code for Jennie. Other schools in the Loudoun, Va. district would not prohibit a young woman from participating in graduation if she wore pants. Terrence Hill, director of secondary education for Loudoun schools says he plans to look into the situation at Broad Run.
5/9/1996 - Congress Attacks Same-Sex Marriage
Republicans introduced bills to the House and Senate Wednesday (5-8) to define marriage as "only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife." The measure would allow states to refuse to recognize the legality of same-sex marriages performed in other states, but it would not ban gay marriage in any state. One intention of the law is to prevent marriages performed in Hawaii -- the state whose courts are expected to legalize same-sex marriage -- from automatically being recognized in other states. The measure would also affect federal benefit programs. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force said conservatives were using the measure as a "wedge issue" in an election year.
5/9/1996 - NOW Announces Campaign Against Mitsubishi
On Tuesday, May 7, National Organization for Women president Patricia Ireland and Rev. Jesse Jackson announced a national campaign against Mitsubishi Motor Manufacturing Corporation. NOW plans to picket dealerships, and Jackson urged a boycott of Mitsubishi autos. Condemning Mitsubishi for allowing persistent sexual harassment at its Normal, Ill. plant, Ireland called the company's response to a suit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission "abhorrent." She cited the company's unwillingness to admit that over 300 women have been harassed at the plant and criticized Mitsubishi's tactics of threatening workers with job loss and paying them to attend a protest to denounce the allegations. Since the April 22 protest, Mitsubishi has indicated a desire to settle the lawsuit.