Secular Woman Urges the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival to End their Policy of Trans Exclusion

The Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival has been, for many lesbian and feminist women a ritual experience, where women could be surrounded only by other women, insulated from the sexism pervading their normal daily lives.

Every year, thousands flock to the iconic festival in Michigan. Unfortunately, also iconic to the festival is their notorious mistreatment of trans women and the blatant transphobia evidenced in their (informal) policies of exclusion of trans women.

This year, Secular Woman joins with many other organizations and individuals, including The National Black Justice Coalition and GLAAD CEO Sarah Ellis, to call on MWMF to end their transphobic policy and allow ALL women to attend the festival and celebrate their womanhood.

Our president, Kim Rippere, asks that the festival demonstrate an inclusive nature and “welcome all women”. She says that “changing the policy to allow every woman to participate in the festival will boldly announce a commitment to ending the discrimination of women; your inclusive perspective; and your willingness to grow, learn, and take corrective action.”

Kim speaks on behalf of Secular Woman when she reminds MWMF that we are “committed to the inclusion of all women” – our past includes working with trans advocates to petition the Southern Poverty Law Center to recognize Gender Identity Watch as a hate group.

Our commitment to trans inclusion and full equality carries through in our request that the festival overturn a long and ugly tradition of inequality and embrace an understanding of women that includes every woman, not just cisgender women.

Join with us and sign the petition by Equality Michigan to end the exclusion of trans women from MWMF.

Supreme Court rules DOMA Unconstitutional

Yesterday, shortly after 10 a.m., the United States Supreme Court announced its decision that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, the 1996 law that prevented federal recognition of same-sex married couples, is unconstitutional. The Court also dismissed California’s Prop 8 appeal, opening the door for marriage equality to resume in California but allowing other states’ discriminatory amendments to stand.

Though it is an incomplete victory, the ruling is still a landmark moment for civil rights. “As advocates for marriage equality, social justice, and freedom from religious ideology, we welcome this Supreme Court decision,” said Secular Woman president Kim Rippere. “The attempt by politicians to legislate marriage is religious influence at the most basic level. It is pressuring citizens to conform with a passé definition of marriage based on religious traditions.”

Secular Woman, which signed amicus briefs urging the Court to overturn DOMA, applauds the downfall of the discriminatory law that denied same-sex couples thousands of rights enjoyed by heterosexual couples. 83-year-old Edie Windsor of New York, the plaintiff in the case, was forced to pay more than $360,000 in estate taxes because the federal government did not recognize her marriage to her wife, Thea Spyer––even though same-sex marriage is legal and recognized in New York.

“By seeking to injure the very class New York seeks to protect, DOMA violates basic due process and equal protection principles applicable to the Federal Government,” the Court’s decision on the case attests. “DOMA’s history of enactment and its own text demonstrate that interference with the equal dignity of same-sex marriages, conferred by the States in the exercise of their sovereign power, was more than an incidental effect of the federal statute. It was its essence.”

The Court stated that “no legitimate purpose” for DOMA “overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and to injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity. By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others, the federal statute is in violation of the Fifth Amendment.”

Support for LGBTQ equality is consistent with Secular Woman’s core values embracing human-centered ethics informed by reason and science; rejecting dogma, superstition, pseudoscience, and religious authority as sources of morality and truth; and holding that all human beings are entitled to freedom from others' religious ideologies in living their lives, engaging with service providers, and interacting with government. Secular Woman explicitly affirms that each person has the right to seek happiness through consensual relationships that enhance their lives. We support full marriage equality nationwide and are thrilled to see DOMA overturned.

 

Introducing the LGBTQ Article Series, Recognizing Pride Month

This week Secular Woman will be featuring stories on LGBT people and their experiences with the oppressive forces of religion. Many queer and gender variant people face horrific and relentless discrimination and hatred from their faith (or former faith), and often from their family who practices a faith which rejects them. Part of our vision is a world where secular values celebrate same-sex love and people of all gender identities and expressions.

The stories this week show how far we have to come as a society and the capacity of the secular, atheist, and humanist communities to embrace LGBTQ people and stand with them in their fight for equality and justice. It is our goal to share these stories with the expectation of increasing understanding in the secular community of the challenges gender and sexual minorities face and the importance of continuing to support their struggle for acceptance and equality.

Secular Woman to Match Up to $500 in Donations to Humanist Homeschoolers Lending Library

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

For more information, please contact:

Secular Woman to Match Up to $500 in Donations to Humanist Homeschoolers Lending Library

KellyAnne and Jennifer are two homeschooling parents who recognized a need for affordable educational materials not containing a religious agenda.  Because of the large market for religious homeschooling materials, it has become increasingly more expensive and difficult for free thinking homeschooling families to find alternatives.  The Humanist Homeschoolers Lending Library hopes to fulfil this need by pooling resources and providing secular homeschooling curricula and supplies to families in need.

Secular Woman believes that the educational needs of free thinking children are of utmost importance.  We will be aiding secular homeschooling parents in accessing quality educational materials by matching donations of our members and supporters of this project up to the amount of $500.  Upon finding the Humanist Homeschoolers Lending Library, we feel that the idea of providing these resources on loan is an effective way to not only help in education, but also with families for whom the cost of new books may be out of the budget.

The Humanist Homeschoolers Lending Library needs your help in building this valuable resource.  Funds raised will go to purchase of books, building a database, maintaining a website, postage, and other maintenance items. We ask for our members’ and supporters’ help to ensure that children in the secular movement are provided with the materials best suited to obtain a quality education.

If you would like to help please donate to the Humanist Homeschoolers Lending Library IndieGoGo Campaign.  Once your donation is completed please forward proof of your donation to Nicole at [email protected] On the final day of the campaign, we will tally donations made by our members and supporters who have provided proof of donation to us and match these donations up to the amount of $500.

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Secular Woman is an educational non-profit organization whose mission is to amplify the voice, presence, and influence of non-religious women. For more information about Secular Woman visit: www.SecularWoman.org.

Secular Woman Signs 30% Coalition’s Corporate Board Representation Letter

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Institutional Investors, Leading Women’s Organizations Urge S & P 500 Companies to Add Women to Their Boards

“Thirty Percent Coalition” Wants Women to Hold 30% of Corporate Board Seats By 2015

Boston, MA – June 29, 2012 – A large number of institutional investors with approximately $1.2 trillion in assets under management, along with representatives of some of the nation’s leading women’s organizations, yesterday sent a letter to the 41 companies within the S & P 500 Index that do not have any women on their boards of directors, urging them to embrace gender diversity by adding women to their boards. The Thirty Percent Coalition, a coalition that includes senior business executives, statewide elected officials, national women's organizations, institutional investors, labor unions, corporate governance experts, board members and others, which was formed in late 2011 to address the lack of gender diversity in corporate boardrooms, organized the initiative and letter.

The Coalition has set a goal of women holding 30% of board seats across public companies by the end of 2015. According to reports by Catalyst, ION and Governance Metrics International, women only hold roughly 12 – 16% of corporate board seats today. “We must do better,” say the signatories in their letter, which asks companies to work with them to bring the number of women on corporate boards from where it is today – with women holding somewhere from 12 to 16 percent of board seats – to a point where women will hold 30 percent of board seats by the end of 2015.

The letter was sent to the 41 companies within the S & P 500 that do not have any women on their boards (see attached list), a group that includes such nationally-known companies as Chesapeake Energy, Urban Outfitters, Expedia, Teradyne and Federated Investors. In the letter, the signatories cite studies demonstrating a correlation between greater gender diversity among corporate boards and management, good corporate governance and long-term financial performance. According to the Thirty Percent Coalition, this is the first time that large institutional investors and national women’s groups have joined forces to press companies to improve their governance by adding gender diversity to their boards.

“Women’s groups across the nation have long fought for gender equality, and institutional investors have long been interested in good corporate governance and long-term investment returns,” says Thirty Percent Coalition Project Leader Charlotte Laurent-Ottomane. “What’s new today is that substantial research underscores the correlation between gender diversity, good governance and positive long-term corporate performance. We are urging the business community to embrace this elemental truth.”

The letter references quotas being adopted in numerous countries around the world to increase the number of women on corporate boards but proposes instead that companies in the U.S. voluntarily embrace more ambitious diversity goals because it makes business sense. ”We are not advocating for quotas,” says Joe Keefe, President and CEO of Pax World Mutual Funds and Chair of the Coalition’s Institutional Investor Committee. “We are simply urging companies in general, and these 41 companies in particular, to do better when it comes to inclusiveness and board diversity. Three years from now, we would like to see 30% of corporate board seats held by women. This is a modest, reasonable goal when women comprise over half of the workforce, a majority of college graduates and grad students, own 40% of American businesses and are the breadwinners or co-breadwinners in two thirds of American households.”

Signatories to the letter include several statewide elected officials on behalf of public retirement and pension funds in California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, mutual funds and other asset managers, the AFL-CIO, non-profit foundations, religious institutions and many of the nation’s leading women’s organizations, including the National Council for Research on Women, the National Council of Women’s Organizations, the American Association of University Women and Feminist Majority. The Thirty Percent Coalition promises not to stop with this letter. “We intend to follow up and engage with each of these 41 companies, asking them to join the rest of the S & P 500 in welcoming women to their boards,” says Anne Sheehan, Director of Corporate Governance at the California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS), one of the signatories to the letter. “Whether it’s in dialogue with management, through shareholder resolutions, or related strategies, we intend to press for change. And then we’ll move beyond the S & P 500 to other companies as well. Our goal is to continue engaging companies until women hold at least 30% of corporate board seats across the United States.”


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About the Thirty Percent Coalition The Thirty Percent Coalition is a group of industry leaders, including senior business executives, statewide elected officials, national women's organizations, institutional investors, corporate governance experts and board members who believe in the power of collaborative effort to achieve gender diversity in public company boardrooms, and in the necessity of attaining at least 30% multicultural female representation across public companies by the end of 2015. For more information visit www.30percentcoalition.org

Contacts: Charlotte Laurent-Ottomane Thirty Percent Coalition [email protected] (561) 395 4581

Steven Grossman Treasurer and Receiver General Chairman of the Pension Reserves Investment Management (PRIM) Board Commonwealth of Massachusetts (617) 620-9980

Justin Ordman Solomon McCown [email protected] (617) 933-5281