Meeting Minutes, May 30, 2017

Meeting Minutes for Equal Rights Maine Tuesday, May 30th at 2:30, Blue Hill Library, Howard Room Attending: Posie Cowan, Susan Snider, Linda Nelson, Grace Gregor, Lyn Mayewski, Sally Stone, Leda Beth Gray and Nancy Murdock

Update on the State ERA bill LD 197: The final round of votes is expected this week. (Today’s update – the bill failed to get a 2/3 majority, with a disappointing vote of 77 Yes – 62 No, with 11 absent, 1 excused.)

Report on May 10th Women’s Day at the State House: Linda, Posie, Marion, Sherry, Susan and Nancy went to Augusta for the annual Women’s Day at the State House, organized by the Maine Women’s Lobby. We attended a presentation given by experienced advocates, with tips on effectively reaching our legislators. At the gathering in the Hall of Flags, we met with many of the other groups attending: Maine Women’s Lobby, League of Women Voters, Planned Parenthood, American Association of University Women, GRRR (Grandmothers for Reproductive Rights), Midcoast Maine Women’s Alliance and many others. We tried unsuccessfully to find and speak to Sen. Langley, as we traipsed about the State House numerous times, with Equal Rights Maine posters. There were nods, smiles, encouragement, and the occasional blank stare. The ERA conversation has been re-started in Augusta.

Report on May 18th Hancock County Democrats in Ellsworth: Posie, Susan, Linda and Nancy (and, Randy) attended. The event was moderated by our very own Margaret Hannah, as a means of bringing to the Democratic leadership a range of women’s issues. Stories were told, and Posie spoke about her work on the history of women’s suffrage and our work with Equal Rights Maine. Later, Nancy spoke about how the ERA is the underpinning of many of the women’s issues discussed during the evening. We were interested to see the current group of Democrats facing the challenges ahead.

There is a consensus in the group that with the conclusion of the 128th Legislature’s vote on LD 197, we will be changing our focus from the state ERA to the federal ERA. There was a discussion of how working on the Maine ERA accelerated our understanding of the amendment issues – state and federal. We have learned a lot.

Committee reports:

Networking and Contacts (co-heads Susan and Robin): We will be consolidating our several contact lists into one Master List, developing opportunities to speak to Maine groups (Susan is working on a presentation to the Alamoosick People’s Alliance) and creating a network of ‘cells’ in all districts of Maine, for ongoing advocacy.

Advocacy with Legislators (co-heads Sally and Linda): Poliquin (Susan), Collins (Robin), Pingree (Sherry), King (Janet Pease and Nancy). Susan is in touch with Poliquin staff, sending that office the 14th Amendment research, since that was the primary question asked of us. More on all fronts to come.

Calls to Action: (Posie and Leda Beth) We have been working on our methods and by the second round of votes in Maine, we were able to contact/post the Legislators, our contact lists, the website and the Facebook page in short order.

Press: (co-heads Nancy and Leda Beth): Posie’s Letter to the Editor in the Bangor Daily News and Nancy’s OpEd with the Portland Press Herald helped present our arguments for the Amendment. This press can be read on the website under Be Informed.

Facebook and Website maintenance and design: (co-heads Sherry, Jean and Nancy): Numbers of visitors continue to rise – we have 140+ FB followers. The trick is to keep fueling the page with good articles. Send suggestions when you have them.

Events (co-heads Sally, Robin and Sherry): We are planning an Equal Means Equal showing at the Blue Hill Library this September, followed by discussion and, on a separate night, a more in-depth panel discussing the chief elements of the ERA argument. House parties for film showings are encouraged!

White Papers and Workshops (co-heads Nancy and Susan, with ‘additional editors’ LB and Sally): There is a detailed 14th Amendment paper now posted on the website. Susan gave a presentation of the major points of the reasons ‘Why the 14th Amendment does not prohibit sex discrimination’. It is copied at the end of the Minutes.

The committees will continue to meet separately and the next Equal Rights Maine meeting will be scheduled at the end of the summer.

Thanks to you in the larger group, all 30+ of you, for all the calls you have made and emails written during these first months of work with Equal Rights Maine. We have raised the idea of a Maine ERA from an obscure bill that keeps failing, to a more visible issue that is being challenged and discussed. The two sponsors of the Maine ERA, Rep. Reckitt and Sen. Vitelli, have expressed their appreciation to our group and to the calling power of our membership. We may not have gotten many Republican votes but we have raised awareness of the issue and the Election 2018 will make that clear. We will keep you posted, stay with us.

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