War on Women Report No. 7

The War on Women is in full force under the Trump administration. We refuse to go back, and we refuse to let the administration quietly dismantle the progress we’ve made. We are watching.

This is the War on Women Report. This is the War on Women Report.

Friday 10/6

+ On Friday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions consulted Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF)—a legal advocacy group with a mission to “keep the doors open for the Gospel by advocating for religious liberty, the sanctity of life, and marriage and family”—for clarification regarding federal protections for religious liberty. LGBT advocacy groups are calling this move out for what it is: an egregious effort to offer religious exemption for discrimination based on sexual orientation. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) added ADF to its “designated hate group list,” which includes a slew of right-wing evangelical organizations all working to allow the denial of goods, services and rights to LGBT people on the basis of religion. According to SPLC, ADF has even supported the “recriminalization of homosexuality.” Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, the first U.S. Senator to be openly gay, told ABC News that Session’s guidance could lead to discrimination of vulnerable populations.“I support religious freedom and the freedom of full equality for every American,” Baldwin said in a statement. “A license to discriminate goes against our core American values and I fear that the guidance the Justice Department issued today is not designed to help agencies comply with the law, but rather to give them greater leeway to condone discrimination against LGBTQ people, women and others.”

+ According to documents uncovered by Mother Jones in a report published Friday, the vice chair of the President’s election integrity commission, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, urged the Trump administration to weaken the 1993 National Voter Registration Act—one of the country’s most important voting rights laws—by adding a requirement that would keep tens of thousands of people in Kansas from voting. The proposal is modeled after a 2013 Kansas law that required citizenship documents, such as a passport or birth certificate, to vote. Such requirements amount to voter suppression, a political tactic that creates logistical and financial barriers to voting, which directly targets people of color, low-income folks, women and transgender individuals. In states that require a government-issued photo ID to vote, women who have changed their names with marriage or divorce are forced to jump through hoops to obtain legal certification. This puts additional strain on single mothers and lower-income women who are less likely to have the time and money to seek out additional documentation. Voter ID laws like the one Kobach is proposing are also likely to disenfranchise transgender people. Trans people, whose name or perceived gender may not match that written on their ID, are often turned away by poll workers.

Sunday 10/8

+ Donald Trump Sunday unveiled his wish list of hardline immigration policies that could severely complicate the potential of striking a bipartisan deal over the future of hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants in the U.S. Some of the key points directly contradict the agreement that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) gallantly struck with Donald Trump at a dinner last month, such as building a wall along the southern border. Other principles include winding down Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the Obama-era immigration action that provides nearly 800,000 youth and teens with pathways to citizenship, as well as overhauling the asylum systems—which means quicker deportations for unaccompanied minors and tougher penalties for asylum fraud. Cutting of federal grants for sanctuary cities is also included, on top of requiring employers to use E-Verify—a workplace system that verifies employee immigration status. Trump also wants to amplifying the arsenal of immigration employees, adding 370 additional judges to oversee immigration cases, 1,000 new attorneys at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and 10,000 more ICE agents to expand deportation efforts. The President is also calling for an end to the diversity visa lottery, which offers visas to immigrants from traditionally underrepresented countries, and to limit the number of refugees to 45,000 in fiscal 2018—the lowest number since 1980.“The administration can’t be serious about compromise or helping the Dreamers if they begin with a list that is anathema to the Dreamers, to the immigrant community and to the vast majority of Americans,” Pelosi said in a joint statement with other Democratic leaders. “The list includes the wall, which was explicitly ruled out of the negotiations. If the president was serious about protecting the Dreamers, his staff has not made a good faith effort to do so.”

Monday 10/9

+ On Monday, the New York Times released an unsettling sexist anecdote about the walking cacophony of misogyny, xenophobia and racism that is Stephen Miller.  According to their report, among other things, Miller channeled self-proclaimed chauvinist Bobby Riggs in high school when he “jumped, uninvited, into the final stretch of a girls’ track meet, apparently intent on proving his athletic supremacy over the opposite sex.” The Trump administration didn’t deny this latest addition to the White House advisor’s grotesque track record, which stretches back to his days in high school. At 16 he wrote editorial takedowns of Maya Angelou, attempted to derail the efforts of student of color organizations, demeaned and humiliated janitors and dropped a friend for being Latino. In college, Miller went on to defend on national television three white lacrosse players who had been accused of raping a black woman at Duke University. And today, at 31 years old, Miller is the driving force behind the Trump administration’s immigration policy—one that has already sharply restricted the number of refugees admitted to the U.S., has stripped 800,000 American youth and teens of documentation that protects them from deportation and has enshrined executive orders that perpetuate discrimination against people of color and embolden local police with the authority of immigration agents.

Wednesday 10/11

+ The NAACP Legal Defense Fund came out swinging in a statement Wednesday opposing President Trump’s nominee for judge to the Eastern District of North Carolina, Thomas Farr—a 63-year-old white male with a long legacy of white supremacist politics. Farr has spent his entire career fighting to undermine civil rights through his deep connections to the “Helms machine,” a sweeping political and fundraising enterprise grounded in spreading racial superiority and designed to viciously oppose civil liberties. Thus, his nomination is a continuation of the threat to justice and freedom that has permeated the region. This North Carolina district has never had an African-American judge, despite the fact that nearly 30 percent of residents are African American, and the district is home to roughly half of the State’s African Americans. Though this is not for an absence of effort. President Obama had nominated two African-American women to this position—Jennifer May-Parker and Patricia Timmons-Goodson—but North Carolina Senator Richard Burr blocked the two candidates unilaterally. Both women were overwhelmingly qualified: May-Parker was a federal prosecutor and Timmons-Goodson was a former justice on North Carolina’s Supreme Court.

Thursday 10/12

+ Trump threatened on Thursday morning to withdraw federal aid workers from Puerto Rico and abandon the recovery effort to help the U.S. citizens who have been ravaged by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Three weeks have passed since the first hurricane struck the U.S. territory, yet half the island still lacks drinking water and over 80 percent has no electricity. There is an increasing shortage of food and hospitals are in dire conditions, according to health officials. In times of crisis, women are placed under heightened risk, as extreme psychosocial stresses result in a spike in sexual and gender-based violence. And women’s bodily health is put in adverse jeopardy in such times, too—as immediate humanitarian relief aid often overlooks necessary reproductive care like tampons, pads, underwear and birth control. This threat to bodily autonomy is further exasperated by an absence of medical support for women overall, and, in this case, by Trump’s sexist attacks on one of the many women leading the charge to bring relief to those on the island.

+ After Republican lawmakers failed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, Trump took his first steps Thursday toward fulfilling his promise to dismantle Obamacare by signing an executive order that will remove billions of dollars in federal subsidies that help cover health care for low income folks. Experts are saying that without these subsidies, insurance premiums will increase dramatically, which could lead to a complete unraveling of a healthcare market that supports millions of Americans. This would inflict the greatest harm on women, particularly women of color who are already marginalized from the market. This follows another executive order signed by Trump that allows insurance companies to sell cheap policies with few benefits and protections—a move that could also destabilize the market and leave women, children and elderly folks without access to fundamental health services. This follows another executive order signed by Trump that allows insurance companies to sell cheap policies with few benefits and protections—a move that could also destabilize the market and leave women, children and elderly folks without access to fundamental health services.



Jessica Merino is a former Ms. editorial intern.