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3/21/1996 - Families of Gays Travel to Washington to Demand Job Protection

The Human Right Campaign and Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (P-FLAG) staged a rally on Capitol Hill to ask Congress for a federal law making it illegal to discriminate against homosexuals in the workplace. Some two hundred parents and friends of gays and lesbians attended the event to make the statement that "discrimination against gay people is a family issue," according to Human Rights Campaign communications director David Smith.

In 1994, Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) introduced the measure that would bar employers from taking sexual orientation into account when hiring, firing, or promoting workers. The bill has 21 supporters in the Senate and 131 in the House. Elizabeth Birch, president of the Human Rights Campaign, urged the rally attendees to be persistent in the fight, noting it took 38 years of lobbying for women to win the right to vote.

3/21/1996 - Discrimination Persists in Boy Scouts

A judge denied a 12-year-old girl’s plea to be allowed to join the Boy Scouts while her legal case against the group process. Katrina Yeaw of California applied to the Boy Scouts in April 1995 because she, like her twin brother, wanted to learn canoeing, camping, and other outdoor skills. She was upset to be rejected solely because she was a girl, and has since sued the group for violating the state’s anti-discrimination law. Sacramento Superior Court Judge John Lewis rejected the motion Wednesday and said the law did not apply to a non-business organization such as the Boy Scouts.

Yeaw’s lawyers plan to appeal the decision to the state Court of Appeals and hope to win a change in the national policy of the Boy Scouts of America. They are also seeking damages.

3/21/1996 - Woman Cites Civil Rights Violations in Highway Episode

On January 8, 1996, Sandra Antoine Antor was stopped, pulled from her car and abused by South Carolina state trooper Lance Cpl. W.H. Beckwith. A black woman from Miami, Antor says a white woman would not have been treated in the same manner by the white Beckwith, and her lawyers say they expect to file a lawsuit alleging civil rights violations. Beckwith was fired after the incident and has since apologized.

3/21/1996 - Russian Space Officials Stereotype Woman Astronaut to Board Space Station

Stating "we know women love to clean," Gen. Yuri Glazkov predicted that female astronaut American Shannon Lucid will clean up and brighten up the Russian space station Mir during her five month stay expected to begin Saturday (3-22). Speaking at a NASA news conference, Glazkov, deputy commander of the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center, then stated that women can be better workers and that he wasn’t worried about there being any "curtains on the windows" due to a female presence, but was glad to "anticipate that the fans will be taken of in a more timely manner."

Though Lucid says she has never experienced discrimination during the past year at the cosmonaut training center, other women astronauts working with Russians in space have reported receiving an apron and being told that space fight is "hard work, not a women’s work." When a French woman arrives on Mir in July, it will be the first time two women live on the station at the same time.

3/21/1996 - Probe Finds No Discrimination Against Whites at UC Berkeley; Texas Universities Worry About Diversity on Campus

On Wednesday (3-20), the University of California Berekley released a report stating that a federal investigation cleared the school of seven-year-old charges that its admissions policies discriminated against whites. The probe also found that academic performance improved under the campus’ affirmative action program, and did not decline, as alleged by critics.

The report came two days after the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the University of Texas could not pursue affirmative action strategies to increase diversity on campus. UT administrators said that black and Hispanic admissions might drop by half or more if the university has to conform to the ruling. Supporters of affirmative action programs hope the Supreme Court will hear the case and rule differently.

"Obviously, if this is upheld, all selective universities will have difficulty in trying to achieve the goal of a diverse student body," said UT president Robert Berdahl. "These are the kind of institutions that produce the leaders for their states and the country, and for their students to be educated in predominantly white, segregated environments, is not, I think, in the best interests of the students."

3/20/1996 - Court Rules Against Texas Diversity Policy

On Monday (3-19), the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a University of Texas admissions policy is unconstitutional and that public universities may not justify affirmative action programs based on the benefits of racial diversity. The decision will affect virtually all institutions of higher education taking racial diversity in account in admissions.

The court ruled for the plaintiffs, four white students who argued that they were unfairly denied admission to the University of Texas law school. The university defended its admissions practices that were implemented to achieve goals of racial diversity and compensation for past discrimination, while the Court maintained one could not assume that racial diversity was indicative of diversity of experience and opinions. The article in the Washington Postmade no mention of affirmative action programs benefitting women. Three of the four plaintiffs were male.

3/20/1996 - Military Policy Toward Gays Deemed Too Discriminatory for Connecticut

In a 3-2 decision Tuesday (3-19), the state Supreme Court of Connecticut ruled that the military cannot recruit at the University of Connecticut Law School because its "don't ask, don't tell" policy violates a state anti-discrimination law. Citing the military's "current discrimination against gay men and lesbians," the ruling upheld a 1994 Superior Court judge's ruling that barred the school from violating a 1991 anti-discrimination law that prohibits state agencies from opening their facilities to discriminatory employers. The state had appealed the ruling in October 1995, but did not attempt to make an argument that the military's policy toward gays is not discriminatory.

3/20/1996 - Anglea Davis Rebukes Connerly's Public Attack

University of California Santa Cruz professor Angela Davis called "outrageous" claims made by UC regent and California businessman Ward Connerly. In a letter mailed to Davis and faxed to reporters, Connerly, also chair of the self-titled "California Civil Rights Initiative" to ban affirmative action in the state, accused Davis of using her position at the university to defeat the CCRI. Connerly insinuated that Davis had encouraged students to harass Connerly at a recent Board of Regents meeting.

Davis, who was told of the letter before receiving it, said that Connerly's claims did not merit response and that she was "shocked he would release a letter of this sort that has so much misinformation." Commenting on Connerly's implication that Davis used "her perch as a member of the women of color research cluster," to organize students to defeat Connerly's bill, Davis said, "I have never in my entire career attempted to incite any student to violence, but I have encouraged students and workers to organize, which I think is a democratic right. It's quite obvious that (Connerly) is using his position as a member of the board of regents to promote this very dangerous and conservative assault on the rights of the people of this state."

3/19/1996 - New Contraception Hotline Reaches Thousands

Inaugurated February 14, 1996, the Emergency Contraception Hotline had received over 6000 calls in its first three week, according to a March 8 update by its sponsors. The hotline provides callers with information about emergency contraception and the names and telephone numbers of health care providers who can prescribe it. Operated by the Reproductive Health Technologies Project, the hotline is available nationwide 24 hours a day in English and Spanish. The number is 1-800-584-9911, and a directory of providers can also be accessed on their Web site at

3/19/1996 - Supreme Court Rules on Reproductive Rights

The Supreme Court decided Monday (3-18) to Review Limits on Anti- Abortion Protests. The Court also sent a case back to a federal appeals court in which Arkansas officials attempted to deny Medicaid-funded abortions for women impregnated by rape or incest. The 8th Circuit Court had wrongly invalidated all of an amendment to the Arkansas Constitution instead of only invalidating the abortion provision. The Supreme Court has rejected similar appeals from state officials in Nebraska, Colorado, and Pennsylvania in the past three months.

3/19/1996 - University of California to Probe its Admissions Preferences for Friends of VIPs

After an admission last week that well-connected status plays a role in who gets accepted into the University of California system, officials said yesterday (3-18) that a campus fund-raising officer plays an important role in reviewing applications from such candidates at UC Berkeley. A story in Saturday’s Los Angeles Times (3-16) indicated that UCLA has admitted applicants with high-level connections in favor of better-qualified candidates on several occasions. UCLA then would expect favors from the VIPs. The practice of giving preferences to well-connected students bothers critics of the regents’ July 1995 decision to eliminate affirmative action programs to ensure equality for women and people of color in admissions, hiring and contracting.

Democratic assemblywoman Marguerite Archie-Hudson says she will seek hearings on the subject in the Assembly Higher Education Committee. "They assume there are one set of rules for common folk and another set of rules for people who have power," said Archie-Hudson, formerly an administrator at UCLA.

See also:
UC System Admits it Grants Preferences to the Children of VIPs

3/18/1996 - Anti-Gay Oregonian Runs for U.S. Senate

Chair of the Oregon Citizens Alliance Lon Mabon made a surprising move last week to file GOP primary candidacy papers for a U.S. Senate seat minutes before the deadline. Mabon will compete with former ally Gordon Smith in the May primary to replace retiring Sen. Mark Hatfield. Some of Mabon's opponents indicate his bid signals an attempt to revitalize lagging interest in his organization.

Mabon has lead anti-gay rights campaigns in Oregon and sponsored two anti-gay state ballot initiatives defeated by voters. He is currently pursuing a third measure to restrict homosexual rights legislation and another to ban late-term abortions. He has also been involved in the state initiative to ban affirmative action.

3/18/1996 - Jury Convicts Salvi of Murder

A jury found John Salvi guilty on two counts of first-degree murder in what is called the worst case of anti-abortion violence in U.S. history. Salvi will spend a mandatory life sentence in jail with no chance of parole. The jury of six men and six women was sequestered upon completion of five weeks of testimony and began deliberating on March 16. After nine hours, jurors rejected the defense's claim that Salvi was insane at the time of the killings.

On December 30, 1994, Salvi shot and killed Shannon Lowney, 25 and Lee Ann Nichols, 38, receptionists at the Planned Parenthood and Preterm Health Services clinics in Brookline, Massachusetts. Salvi wounded five others in the attacks at the clinics where he had previously protested, and he was convicted on five charges of assault.

3/18/1996 - Anti-Gay Oregonian Runs for U.S. Senate

Chair of the Oregon Citizens Alliance Lon Mabon made a surprising move last week to file GOP primary candidacy papers for a U.S. Senate seat minutes before the deadline. Mabon will compete with former ally Gordon Smith in the May primary to replace retiring Sen. Mark Hatfield. Some of Mabon's opponents indicate his bid signals an attempt to revitalize lagging interest in his organization.

Mabon has lead anti-gay rights campaigns in Oregon and sponsored two anti-gay state ballot initiatives defeated by voters. He is currently pursuing a third measure to restrict homosexual rights legislation and another to ban late-term abortions. He has also been involved in the state initiative to ban affirmative action.

3/18/1996 - Limits on Anti-Abortion Protests Reviewed by Supreme Court

On Monday (3-18), the Supreme Court agreed to review attacks against limits on anti-abortion demonstrations in Buffalo and Rochester, NY. Responding to criticism that the 15-foot buffer zone imposed in 1994 is a violation of free speech rights, the court decided to hear an appeal by Rev. Paul Schenck and Dwight Saunders. The Feminist Majority Foundation legal team successfully argued the 1994 case, and lawyers for abortion providers urged the court to reject the appeal which could provide important new guidelines for anti-abortion demonstrations across the country, affecting medical office buildings and full-service hospitals as well as clinics. A ruling is expected sometime in 1997.

3/18/1996 - Togo Woman Seeking Asylum Tangled in U.S. Immigration Bureaucracy

Fauzia Kasinga, a woman who escaped from Togo in 1994 to avoid being forced into circumcision and a polygamous marriage, is currently detained in a Pennsylvania prison after being told by one U.S. immigration judge that her story is unbelievable and irrational. Kasinga had avoided the standard tribe practice of female genital mutilation because her father objected to it and was powerful enough to protect her and her older sisters. Upon his death, his sister (Kasinga's aunt) took control of the family and ordered the circumcision and marriage for 17-year old Kasinga who fled to the United States to seek asylum and live with her cousin in Arlington, VA.

Since that time, Kasinga has been detained, shackled, and strip-searched. Although it is common practice to detain asylum seekers, the INS intervened in this case and recommended that Kasinga be released. District director Scott Blackman refused. When an immigration board rules on Kasinga's case in April, the ruling will be binding and will be "the most significant legal decision ever made in this country about female genital mutilation as it pertains to asylum," according to the Washington Post. If Kasinga loses the appeal, she will be forced to return to Togo.

Canada has granted two women asylum based on its three-year-old categorization that recognizes female circumcision as a legitimate claim for female asylum seekers.

3/18/1996 - Woman Astronaut Goes to Mir

One of NASA's original female astronauts will board the shuttle Atlantis Thursday (3-21) to dock with the Russian space station Mir on March 22. Shannon Lucid, 53, will become the first American woman to live on Mir and the first woman to fly in space five times. A biochemist with two children, Lucid made her first space mission in 1985 and will stay on Mir for four and a half months.

3/16/1996 - Women’s Votes Courted by Democrats and EMILY’s List

At a fund-raiser Friday (3-15), EMILY’s List and the Democratic Party launched a multi-million dollar campaign to increase voting among women. According to Democratic National Committee chair Donald Fowler, "Women are key to Democratic Victory in 1996." EMILY’s List, a political fundraising group for pro-choice Democratic women candidates announced it will spend $10 million through the year 2000 to encourage women to vote. According to president Ellen Malcolm, women staying away from the polls in 1994 helped Republicans win a congressional majority; that experience inspired the project Women Vote! The Democratic Party has not yet disclosed its similar financial commitment, but acknowledges the campaign will include publicity and phone work.

On a related subject, The Women’s Campaign School at Yale University is boasting an 80 percent success rate. Founded three years ago, the school teaches women how to get elected to public office through its annual four and a half day training program in June and other workshops throughout the year. According to a Reuters report, Geraldine Ferraro will deliver the opening address at this year’s training.

3/16/1996 - Sexual Harassment Cases in Federal Government Take Years to Resolve

On Wednesday, the Washington Post published an article which described the history of a sexual harassment case against Richard L. Frazier, a construction analyst at the Housing and Urban Development office in Hartford, Connecticut. An investigation that took almost a year ended in Frazier being suspended for two months without pay for "sexual harassment and for engaging in notoriously disgraceful conduct." After an appeal Frazier won, it took until December 1995 for a U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit to rule that it was sufficient to prove misconduct and that behavior that adversely affected the efficiency of the government agency.

In November, the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) released a survey finding that only 6 percent of federal workers who said they had been sexually harassed said they would file formal complaints with their agencies. Many victims indicated that they believed little action would be taken or that filing a compliant would make their work more difficult. The survey found that 44 percent of women who responded had been the subject of "uninvited, unwanted sexual attention."

3/16/1996 - UC System Admits it Grants Preferences to the Children of VIPs

University of California officials confirmed Friday (3-15) that politicians, regents and wealthy donors often use their UC contacts to grant special consideration for the children of friends, relatives, and constituents. Although UC president Richard Atkinson insisted that no special slots are actually reserved for well-connected applicants, critics say the practice constitutes a preference for people who know a VIP. In July the UC Board of Regents voted to eliminate what they call race and gender preferences in admissions, hiring, and contracting

3/16/1996 - Jurors to Decide Clinic Gunman Salvi’s Fate

In the murder trial of John Salvi, the case went to the jury Friday (3-15) to decide if the avowed gunman is insane or guilty of first-degree murder. The prosecution stated that regardless of Salvi’s supposed odd beliefs or eccentric personality, his plans against the clinics were too well thought-out for Salvi not to know that killing two women was wrong. The jury is composed of six women and six men and was to begin deliberations Saturday morning.

3/15/1996 - Study Finds No Link Between Breast Cancer and Stress

Disputing a British study published in November, a new study from the University of Wisconsin Comprehensive Cancer Center found no relationship between stress and breast cancer. Barrie Cassileth wrote an editorial about the research for the March 15 issue of Cancer, the journal of the Atlanta-based American Cancer Society where the study is published. Cassileth said, "Studies like this are important. Patients need to be protected against the idea that they brought on their cancer."

The study interviewed 872 women, including 258 with breast cancer, about stressful events in their lives and found rates to be the same for women who did and did not have cancer.

3/15/1996 - Students Protest Ban on Affirmative Action Programs in California

Students protested Tuesday (3-12) at the University of California San Diego to oppose the state initiative on the November ballot that would outlaw affirmative action, and to oppose the banning of affirmative action programs in the University of California system. Students were hoping that the Board of Regents would consider a repeal of their July vote banning affirmative action in admissions, hiring, and contracting.

However, at the Board of Regents meeting in San Francisco Thursday (3-14), the regents effectively killed a proposal by student regent Edward Gomez to reinstate affirmative action. Students immediately protested the ruling which will keep virtually any discussion of affirmative action out of future regents’ meetings.

3/15/1996 - Women’s Groups, Legislators Announce "Contract with Women of the USA"

To fight back punitive anti-woman policies, the Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO) and the Center for Women Policy Studies (CWPS) announced their "Contract with Women of the USA" on March 7, the eve on International Women’s Day. The Contract contains twelve principles and commitments to shape policies that advance women’s equality, economic security and power-sharing. The release of the contract began a national grassroots mobilization campaign to make women’s concerns a central issue in policy-making and elections at the local, state, and federal levels. Women in six states also announced their participation in the campaign and the development of state contracts that reflect local and state priorities.

Already endorsed by more than 80 women’s organizations, a multi-partisan group of state and federal agencies and other individuals, the Contract calls for economic, social, and political equality for women, higher living standards, access to full reproductive rights and health care and an end to discrimination and violence against women.

3/15/1996 - Political Assault on Poor Women Continues

Several developments in the world of welfare reform surfaced Thursday (3-15). On a national level, Republican governors turned the former bipartisan governors’ welfare overhaul into partisan issue by announcing their work was finished. Democrats were left out of the statement and said that many problems have still not been resolved. While Democrats criticized the premature announcement, House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R- Ga.) praised it and announced that he plans to present a bill to President Clinton by April or May. The bill will be introduced in the House on March 25.

California Assembly Republicans approved a bill to cut funds to elderly, blind, and disabled welfare recipients by $1 billion. Sought by Gov. Pete Wilson, the bill would repeal a law that mandates an increase in welfare benefits each year in step with inflation. The bill has been criticized by Democrats as "wicked" and "anti-woman, anti-children, anti-aged and anti-disabled."

In Wisconsin, Gov. Tommy Thompson plans to sign a bill to put welfare mothers to work and would require people to work in jobs paying less than minimum wage, an effort some say amounts to "slave labor." The bill, called first of its kind, will replace Aid to Families with Dependent Children starting July 1997. It includes programs such as Learnfare, which reduces benefits for families when children miss school, and Bridefare which encourages teen mothers to marry.