In a victory for civil rights and women’s rights, Senator Trent Lott (R-MS) announced his decision today to step down from his position as Senate Majority Leader. However, he “will continue to serve the people of Mississippi in the United States Senate,” according to his statement published in the Washington Post. Lott’s resignation follows racist comments he made at a birthday celebration for retiring Senator Strom Thurmond, saying that the country would have been better off if Thurmond, a segregationist candidate, had become President in 1948. Calls for Lott’s resignation have run the political gamut, ranging from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the National Organization for Women (NOW) to conservative columnist Andrew Sullivan and the right-wing Family Research Council, which posted a statement commending Lott for resigning today.
Sen. Bill Frist (R-TN) launched a campaign last night to oust Lott and take over his position, according to the Post. Frist, a retired heart surgeon, is close to President Bush and key presidential aides, including political strategist Karl Rove. Planned Parenthood’s Action Fund lists Frist as solidly anti-choice, voting against choice in eight key issues, including emergency contraception, the global gag rule, and sex education.
The controversy over Lott’s racially charged statements could impact upcoming Supreme Court cases challenging Michigan’s affirmative action policies. The Supreme Court asked the Bush Administration to weigh in on the cases, and Attorney General John Ashcroft had wanted the Administration to go on record opposing affirmative action in college admissions, according to the Los Angeles Times. However, administration officials are now worried about the heightened climate in matters of race, the Times reports. The Lott issue could also affect some of Bush’s hotly contested judicial nominees who have poor records on civil rights cases, such as Carolyn Kuhl, who as a Justice Department lawyer supported Bob Jones University in a 1981 suit charging that the school should not keep its tax-exempt status while prohibiting interracial dating. In addition, it was expected that Bush would re-nominate Charles Pickering, who was defeated in March. However, the Times reports that it is unlikely that he will be confirmed because of an incident in Pickering’s past, in which he argued federal prosecutors in a secret meeting to be lenient on a white man convicted of burning a cross outside of a black family’s home.
1/23/2015 #HeForShe Campaign Launches Pilot Effort Aimed at Institutional Equality - The United Nations' gender equality campaign #HeForShe has launched a new program called IMPACT 10X10X10.
United Nations Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson, together with UN Women Executive DirectorPhumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, introduced the one-year pilot effort aimed at encouraging corporations, universities, and governments to play an active role in enhancing women's empowerment and equality in Davos, Switzerland today at the World Economic Forum.
"Women need to be equal participants in our homes, societies, in our governments, and in our workplaces," Watson said.
First introduced in September, HeForShe is a solidarity movement that calls on men and boys to confront gender inequalities that face women and girls globally. . . .
1/22/2015 BREAKING: House to Vote on Abortion Coverage Ban - After they were forced to scrap plans for a 20-week abortion ban, House Republican leaders decided late last night to instead ram through a vote today on a different extreme anti-abortion bill.
House Republicans are now pushing HR 7, a bill promoted as a ban on federal funding of abortion that would actually prevent women from using their own money to purchase health insurance that includes abortion care. . . .
1/22/2015 House Cancels Abortion Ban After GOP Congresswomen Drop Support - House Republicans cancelled plans to vote on a 20-week ban on abortion after Republican Congresswomen removed their names publicly as co-sponsors of the bill.
The vote on the unconstitutional 20-week ban had originally been scheduled for today, the anniversary of Roe v. . . .