Women’s Groups & Grassroots Groups Urge Vote for Female Speaker of the House in Illinois



We are writing today to strongly encourage the House Democratic Caucus to choose a woman as their new leader when they convene to vote for the Speaker of the House of the 102nd General Assembly. As statewide women’s organizations, we’ve watched with pride and gratification as the declared candidates to the current Speaker, Michael Madigan, have all come from the House Democratic Women’s Caucus, which in the past several years has taken the lead on legislation important to us such as the Clean Energy Jobs Act, Equal Rights Amendment Ratification, and Reproductive Health Act, as well as initiatives on minimum wage, education, and mental health.

While we appreciate the leadership the current Speaker has provided, we believe it is time for a change, and choosing a strong female leader is the change that is needed. We’ve also watched with some concern
arguments that are being made that Speaker Madigan is the only one running who can hold the caucus together, pass important legislation, and help re-elect his members. This suggests that the female candidates
that have announced do not share these same qualities. We do not believe that to be true. Further, we find that sexist school of thought to be one that has permeated the legislature in Springfield for decades. Changing that culture is another reason why it is important that a woman should be chosen to lead.

All the female candidates that have declared their intention to run for Speaker of the House have done so in an environment that has been hostile to a change in leadership; this alone gives credence to their courage and fortitude. Illinois is on the precipice of a great transition as we work to come out of a global pandemic and restore jobs to working families and revive an economy that has been ravaged by Covid-19. We recognize strong leadership is needed to meet these challenges and many pressing issues, especially the much-needed criminal justice reform being championed by the House Black Caucus and the continued vigilance needed to protect women’s reproductive rights. We believe that all the women who have announced their candidacy are up to this challenge and strongly urge the House Democratic caucus to elect one of them as their new Speaker.

Our Commitment

Statement from IDW Board – Our Commitment

For 8 minutes and 46 seconds, George Floyd and bystanders around him cried out and pleaded for his life while a white police officer braced his knee on Floyd’s neck, choking the life out of him. Since that tragedy, evidence of the pervasive reality of the senseless killings of black people in multiple states has been broadcast globally. From LaQuan McDonald in Chicago, Trayvon Martin in Florida, Michael Brown in Ferguson, Tamir Rice in Cleveland, Sandra Bland in Texas, Eric Garner in New York, and Breona Taylor in Nashville, the simmering anger and pain across this country has grown into a deafening crescendo that can no longer be ignored. It is past time for every person, corporation, and organization in our society to proclaim loudly by speech and action that Black Lives Matter.

Hashtags and words are only the beginning. With messages of solidarity also comes the duty for education and action. At Illinois Democratic Women, we recognize that we have work to do to educate not only ourselves but our members and our wider Democratic community. We have not done enough in the past to address the racial inequality within our own organization, and for that, we are sorry.

We pledge to do better to create a more equity centric Democratic organization in which Black and Brown women see themselves reflected in the membership.

We are humbled and inspired by the protests across our country demanding that structural racism be dismantled, and a reimagining of public safety budgets to be inclusive of investments in mental health, education and economic development in addition to law enforcement.

We understand that creating true public safety means including the social safety net over singularly prioritizing crime and punishment. It is only then that we can begin to solve the root causes of the civil unrest blazing across our streets.

We understand that #justice is hard-fought, and it is out of our best traditions to honor and stand with the right to protest conditions that must be changed. The inception of our country itself was born of protest. No #CivilRights advancement at any time in our history has ever happened without protest.

In the coming weeks, we will be making announcements about greater outreach efforts to Black Democratic women in Illinois and educational opportunities for our membership to begin to do the work to dismantle #racism in our homes, our communities, and our state.

We are grateful to you, our membership, for the work you do every day to support and elect candidates that will help us make this systemic change. The time is now, and voting is our superpower.

Let’s commit to being the change we all want to see.

#BlackLivesMatter #BLM #PoliceReformNow

IL NOW: Repeal of Parental Notification Law

IL NOW Repeal Parental Notification Law

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More Information About This bill (via Ms. Magazine):

“The Parental Notification Act (PNA) passed in 1995 offers a loophole: it dictates that minors who want or need to avoid alerting their parents can utilize Judicial Bypass to do so, which requires that they go to court and appear before a judge to face questioning about their decision. But courts are public settings and, especially if someone lives in a small town, it means they might be recognized in the process of obtaining one. The reality is that judicial bypass is a cruel and emotionally upsetting experience that does nothing to protect the health or well being of young women; instead, it forces minors to be publicly judged for what should be a private choice.

Parental notification can sound like a good idea—why not require a conversation between a young woman and her parents? But not every minor has good parents. Many young women facing an unwanted pregnancy fear the response of their families, which can include emotional or physical harm, demands that the minor carry to term against their will or the loss of financial support or even shelter. In some cases, the prospect of telling parents can even lead to suicidal thoughts and deep depression.  In one shocking case in Illinois, a forced conversation about unwanted pregnancy would have resulted in the likely death of the young woman by her own brother because the families’ religion required that for the family to save face.  

It’s also worth noting that for no other medical decision do minors who are pregnant need to consult with their parents. Young women can become pregnant and carry to term without notifying their parents, even though pregnancy is far more dangerous than an abortion. They have the right to take medication without consulting their parents.

Pregnant teens are vulnerable, and they have few resources. Most of them are in high school—and to avoid parental notification by using the judicial bypass system, they have to secretly go to court without their parents learning about it, likely missing class in the process. They might not even have access to personal cell phones or have email accounts that their parents will not read, or a form of transportation to and from court for their appearance.

For six years, the ACLU in Illinois has assigned pro bono lawyers to each minor in need of support for a judicial bypass—someone who helps to guide young women through this emotionally fraught process. But even that doesn’t stop it from being a punitive and upsetting experience. “It is so cruel to put young women through this,: Melissa Widen, an attorney who supports young women navigating their judicial bypass hearings, told Ms., “who are trying to do the responsible thing in their lives.”

Widen notes that the system isn’t just “tragic”—it’s also “time consuming, unnecessary, stressful,” and “does nothing to help a young woman to be safer and healthier.” It’s also unpopular: Over 70 percent of people in Illinois think that the decision to use abortion should be a choice a woman makes with her doctor. 

State Rep. Chris Welch has sponsored legislation to repeal Illinois’ PNA in the House. “This law was passed by male legislatures that have no place telling women what to do with their bodies,” he says. “Legislatures have no business legislating family relationships.” The legislature will take up this bill during their next session, between January 28 and May 31.”

Source: https://msmagazine.com/2020/01/23/its-time-for-illinois-to-scrap-the-parental-notification-act/

K-Hive: Battlegrounds USA

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About this event

KHive Battlegrounds USA GOTV Rally 10/15 6:00 – 8 p.m. EST

Bring your ice cream to the Battlegrounds! Or bring your friends, family and most of all the fence-sitters to the fight! Let’s eat Joe’s favorite food, listen to some of KHive’s favorite candidates and then flip the country blue up and down the ballot!

U.S. Representative Lauren Underwood and Senator Doug Jones highlight our battalion of candidates to flip or keep seats in razor-thin races in the 2020 Battle for Congress. Headliner Underwood is the Illinois District 14 representative and a universal KHive favorite and she graciously has agreed to stay for a Q&A with us and our guests from groups throughout Illinois, Georgia, Alabama and Ohio — where we are looking at some of the most crucial fights to keep the House and turn the Senate blue! We are hoping to confirm Senate and House hopefuls Jon Ossoff (GA) and Desiree Tims (OH) and will add candidate and activist speakers in the coming days.

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IDW/Chicago NOW Statement re: WBEZ Story on Rape Cover-up


We, the boards of Illinois Democratic Women and the Chicago National Organization of Women, were shocked and horrified to read the WBEZ story about Springfield insider, Mike McClain, casually referring to a rape that happened in Champaign County in an email with former senior government officials. Since that story came out, we have been gratified to see many of our elected officials call for a proper investigation to be done in order to bring justice to this apparent criminal act.

In the last year and a half, we have seen the corrupt and toxic culture of Springfield that has harmed women revealed through subpoenas, lawsuits and those brave women who have come forward with their stories. While we are gratified by the work that has been done to begin to change that culture, namely by the women in the General Assembly, we feel strongly that this latest revelation cannot be swept under the rug and must be properly investigated by all relevant authorities.

Beyond there being a victim who may be suffering the pain of seeing their experience of sexual assault splashed across the news, there is a moral imperative to investigate this alleged crime and it’s cover up by those with tremendous political clout who are supposed to be doing the public good, not obstructing justice. We can no longer reward those who’ve worked to protect a toxic system that empowers corruption which hurts women and tolerates abuse. A system that empowers those who think they can nonchalantly dismiss the cover up of sexual assault in an email as Mike McClain did, is unethical and should be obsolete.

It is time to shine a bright light on why Mike McClain had so much political power in Springfield. McClain emailed two of the most senior officials in state government referencing rape and a coverup as well as ghost pay-rolling without fear of any negative consequence. McClain’s email is further evidence of unscrupulous behavior in our state capital which harms women and everyone who calls Illinois home. The women of Illinois will no longer tolerate this kind of abuse of power within our political system. McClain’s actions and those who have enabled him put our state’s future at risk. The time is up on this toxic culture in Springfield.

Virginia ERA Ratification News!!!

#ERA Coalition Lead Organizations & Advocates,

We are excited to share with you that it has been announced that both the Virginia Senate and House will vote their respective bills, SJ1 and HJ1, out of their chambers tomorrow. The bills will likely cross over for a final vote on Thursday! We are so proud to be able to witness and make history with you as partners in this movement.

We have been told that the votes will be around 12:00 pm.

If you are not able to be in Richmond in person, you can watch the livestream of the vote at the following links:

As always, for the most up to date information please go to the website of the Lead Organization, VARatifyERA.org.

On to ratification!!

Guest Post: IL SB193

The following is a re-blog from Illinois State Representative Sara Feigenholtz

SB 193 was the one bill waiting for the Governors signature and I am grateful that he signed it.

The stories we heard this year—of losing children in the system awakened many legislators whose lives once hung in the balance when they were small children.

Born of these stories, was the Child Welfare Caucus. SB193 was our first caucus bill.

SB 193 says that the decision about whether a child stays in the home or not should be based solely on the best interest of the child standard, the facts, and what is going on in the home.

No decision should be colored by any perverse financial incentive to the contractor, either way. SB 193 prohibits all contractual or individual incentives. Period.

The second part of the new law requires the Division of Child Protection to review a random sample of investigations from the field to improve communication, create a system of checks, balances and accountability to assure the right decisions are being made and to implement necessary systemic reforms.

We can all improve workplace performance and I know DCFS is committed to doing that. SB193 is the legislatures way of weighing in on our expectations of the agency and helping them set a new course.

Hat tip to the Child Welfare Caucus— a mighty army committed to change.

Representative Sara Feigenholtz represents Illinois’ 12th District, which includes Lakeview, Lincoln Park, Buena Park and Near North.

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