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Ireland Votes Overwhelmingly to Legalize Same-Sex Marriage
Over the weekend, the people of Ireland voted overwhelmingly to pass a national referendum legalizing same-sex marriage. Ireland became the first country in the world to pass marriage equality through popular vote on Friday.

Maryland Governor Will Not Veto LGBT Rights Bills
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (R) has announced that he will not veto two pieces of legislation protecting LGBT rights passed by the state legislature in March, meaning they will soon become law. The Maryland General Assembly passed SB 743 / HB 862 and SB 416 / HB 838 by wide margins and with bipartisan support on March 24, after which both were sent to the Governor's desk.

Senate Votes to Advance "Fast Tracking" of Dangerous Trade Agreement
The US Senate voted 62 to 38 yesterday to advance "fast track" trade legislation, just one week after Senate Democrats filibustered the controversial bill that would allow President Obama to force Congress to vote up-or-down on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement. The TPP is a far-reaching trade agreement that has faced staunch opposition from a broad coalition of labor, environmental, women's rights, and human rights groups.

New York Politicians, Advocates, and Activists Have Come Together to Protect Nail Salon Workers
Following a report by the New York Times on the exploitation of nail salon workers almost two weeks ago, New York state and city officials have partnered with advocates and volunteers to bring comprehensive educational programs and labor reforms to the 5,000 licensed salons in the state. Governor Andrew Cuomo (D), who ordered emergency measures last week in the wake of the report - including posting workers' rights information in salons in different languages, shutting down unlicensed salons, implementing new safety requirements, and creating an educational campaign aimed at employees and managers - has introduced a legislative package aimed at building upon those reforms and leading the way for long-term protection for nail salon workers.

New York Attorney General Moves to Expand Access to Contraceptives
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman introduced the Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Act of 2015 last week to enhance the availability of contraception for New Yorkers. The bill codifies the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) in New York state law while strengthening and expanding many of its provisions.

SLUT: The Play Performance Was a Call to Action for Consent Education
Last night, SLUT: The Play, a powerful play about the realities of sexual assault in high schools, was performed for thousands at the Warner Theatre in Washington DC. In attendance was Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), House of Cards creator Beau Willimon, many advocates working to end sexual violence, and hundreds of local high school and college students.

Feminist Majority Foundation Honors Shonda Rhimes and Jenji Kohan at Star-Studded Global Women's Rights Awards
The Feminist Majority Foundation honored award-winning television producers Shonda Rhimes and Jenji Kohan at the 10th annual Eleanor Roosevelt Global Women's Rights Awards in West Hollywood, California. Yesterday's Global Women's Rights awards, hosted by the Feminist Majority Foundation (FMF) and co-hosted by Mavis and Jay Leno, recognized Rhimes and Kohan as two of the most influential showrunners in television today.

The ACLU Takes on Gender Discrimination in Hollywood
The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California (ACLU SoCal) filed a complaint and sent letters last week asking for federal and state civil rights agencies to investigate the massive gender discrepancies in the hiring of directors at all levels of the film and television industry. ACLU SoCal wrote letters to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs with statistical evidence of the gross shortage of female directors represented in the film and television industry, accompanied with anecdotal accounts from 50 women directors.

Members of Congress Renew the Fight for the Equal Rights Amendment
Congresswomen Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) re-introduced the Equal Rights Amendment yesterday in a bipartisan effort to put women in the United States Constitution. A bipartisan coalition of 170 cosponsors have signed on to this bill, including representatives Maloney, Lummis, Congresswoman Speier (D-CA), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), and many more.

House Passes 20-Week Abortion Ban Limiting Access for Rape Survivors
The House passed a 20-week abortion bill yesterday, making it plain that House Republicans feel that denying women access to abortion care is one of their top three priorities. HR 36, is a restrictive 20-week abortion ban that would force rape survivors seeking abortion care to either report the crime to authorities if under 18 years of age, or if over 18 years old, seek medical care or counseling at least 48 hours prior to having an abortion.

Facebook Just Improved Wages and Benefits for Contracted Employees
Facebook Incorporated Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg announced today that the social media powerhouse will be requiring improved benefits from its contractors, including higher pay, paid leave, and a $4,000 new child benefit. Sandberg stated that contracted workers' new benefits will include a $15 minimum wage, a minimum of 15 paid leave days for holidays, sick time, and vacation, and $4,000 in child care benefits for new parents who do not receive paid parental leave.

The House is Voting on a 20-Week Abortion Ban with Burdensome Rape Requirements Today
The House will vote on House Bill 36 today, a restrictive 20-week abortion ban that would force rape survivors seeking abortion care to either report the crime to authorities if under 18 years of age, or if over 18 years old, seek medical care or counseling at least 48 hours prior to having an abortion.

Obama Administration Clarifies ACA Birth Control Benefit After Reports of Conflicting Policies
The Obama administration announced yesterday in new guidance to health insurance companies that insurers are obligated to cover all forms of birth control under the Affordable Care Act. The guidance from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) details that insurance companies must cover at least one version of all 18 federally approved birth control methods.

Pregnant Women Left Vulnerable After Devastating Nepal Earthquake
A large earthquake hit eastern Nepal today, two weeks after a quake killed 8,000 people in the country.

Governor Cuomo Issues Emergency Orders to Protect Nail Salon Workers
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered emergency measures this weekend to protect those in the nail salon industry. Cuomo's actions fall in the wake of a New York Times expose on the lives of manicurists in New York City detailing 10- to 12-hour shifts, poor conditions, health risks, low wages, and other exploitation. "We will not stand idly by as workers are deprived of their hard-earned wages and robbed of their most basic rights," Governor Cuomo said while announcing the launch of a multi-agency Enforcement Task Force aimed at addressing the exploitation of those in the nail salon industry. Cuomo's new actions include posting worker's rights within salons in six different languages, shutting down unlicensed businesses, face mask and glove requirements, and other safety measures to protect manicurists from the harsh chemicals regularly used at salons.

© Feminist Majority Foundation, publisher of Ms. magazine

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