Attending: Sue Snider, Leda Beth Gray, Sherry Streeter, Robin Lincoln, Linda Nelson, Jean Fogelberg, Margaret Hannah, Janet Pease, Sally Stone, Posie Cowan and Nancy Murdock
Our meeting was held in the Howard Room at the Blue Hill Library.
The January 21st March in Augusta, 10,000 strong, brought back a heightened spirit and awareness of the depth of support for women’s rights in Maine. Our Equal Rights Maine banners were held high (thank you Sherry) with our name and website (thank you, Jean) visible to all. The photos are now on our website as it continues to grow. Those who went represented those of us who couldn’t make it. We were all there in spirit.
The website for Equal Rights Maine, www.equalrightsmaine.org is up and running, now visible to search engines, though it will take a few weeks for the searches to bring it up to the top of a search list. Keep checking on it, we have been adding content almost daily. We have Jean Fogelberg to thank, again and again, for her beautiful work on its design and layout and on her good judgment as we give form to how we appear online. Your comments and suggestions are welcome. Send them to Nancy Murdock.
Calls to women’s groups in Maine are ongoing. Susan Snider is coordinating the calls made so far by Robin, Linda, Sherry, Susan and Margaret. In general, we are hearing that none of the groups contacted is focusing on the ERA. They support us, they are interested, but so far we appear to be alone advocating in Maine on this specific issue. These Contact reports will be kept online with the list of contacted groups, on the website, at a private Members ‘portal’. Details forthcoming.
Advocacy calls to our Member of Congress: The Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) ERA bill jump-started our calls to Rep. Poliquin’s office. Many of us called and emailed, asking him to support and sponsor the ERA bills that will be coming before the House in this session. We are also developing a pattern of calls to all our Members of Congress: Collins, King, Poliquin and Pingree. We are taking a page from the book of the Party in power, whose calls to their Members of Congress have outnumbered calls by the minority Party by as much as 10:1 on divisive issues. Keep calling!
New Information: In this second week following the Inauguration, it looks as though there will be at least four bills before the Congress, two before the House and two before the Senate. There are two strategies, so far. The Three-State Strategy Bill (Sen. Benjamin Cardin for the Senate and Rep. Jackie Speier in the House) will try and revive the 1972 ERA by extending the time limit that killed it and work for three more states to ratify. The so-called Fresh Start approach (Sen. Robert Menendez for the Senate and Carolyn Maloney for the House) will start the amendment process anew. We will keep our Be Informed section updated on the website as we learn more.
Sherry reported that our State Rep. Lois Galgay Reckitt, who spoke at the January 21st March in Augusta, has submitted an Equality of Rights bill to the Maine legislature.
Susan has reached Poliquin’s Women’s Issues staff person, Kate Renz, in the D.C. office and is bringing her up to date on the issues of the ERA bills (and the ERA in general, discovering the need for education of younger staff who have never heard of the ERA!). A face to face meeting with Rep. Poliquin, in Maine, is being planned.
Next Steps: With a few more features added to the website, such as a way for viewers to easily Join Us and be added to our contact list, we will be ready for a social media page (probably Facebook). We will also be ready to prepare and send out a letter announcing Equal Rights Maine, to our contacts, to widen our sphere and to gather support for the work we are doing.
Our next meeting is scheduled for February 27th 2017, in the Howard Room at the Blue Hill Library, at 2:30pm.