Wisconsin

On Women’s Equality Day, Activists Recommit To Stand With Wisconsin Women at Noon Rally

To celebrate the 93rd Anniversary Women’s Equality Day on Monday, People For members joined hundreds of progressive allies on the steps of the Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison for the “Stand With Wisconsin Women” Rally.  The event opened with a song from the Solidarity Singalong participants, and featured Wisconsin women, activists, and legislators speaking out against the Wisconsin GOP’s war against women.

VIDEO: http://youtu.be/H2M9ovQY6nM

 

(Video credit: Scott Foval / PFAW.org)

“Thanks to the ACA, the Affordable Care Act, I will no longer pay co-pays for my birth control.  As a woman I will no longer be charged simply for being a woman, and attempting to control my own reproductive life,” said Kristina Nailen.  “I am still afraid.  I am afraid that after these nine years of accumulating debt just for my bachelors, graduating this year with 83,000 in debt before interest, that I will be able to manage my own health care and make my loan repayments.”

Nailen called on Governor Walker and the Republican-controlled Wisconsin legislature to reverse their decision to cut the BadgerCare program, and immediately restore health care funding and provide access to more than 100,000 Wisconsin women who count on the program for their health care coverage.

The rally also featured a roster of activists, leaders, and legislators calling for equal pay for women,  for paid family leave legislation, and endorsing the return of legislation promoting common sense, true equality, and fairness for all citizens; including working women, low wage workers, same-sex couples, disabled persons, and immigrants.  Following the rally participants entered the Wisconsin capitol building to lobby Governor Walker and members of the Wisconsin legislature, demanding they refocus on creating well-paying jobs, and stop enacting anti-woman measures as distractions from economically-focused legislation.

PFAW

Wisconsin GOP Lawmaker Argues Income Limits on School Vouchers 'Penalize Married Couples'

Wisconsin state legislators are in the final days of negotiations on a plan that would expand private school vouchers statewide (they are currently only available in Milwaukee and Racine). The current deal on the program would cap voucher enrollment at one percent of a districts students, but Gov. Scott Walker and other lawmakers would like to expand them further. That includes Republican state Sen. Glenn Grothman, who told Jack Craver of The Capital Times today that not allowing wealthy families who can already afford to send their children to private school to participate in the program would “penalize married couples.”

One of the major concerns in recent years about school vouchers is that they often benefit families who already have the money to send their kids to private schools.

At the same time, the Legislature expanded the state-paid voucher program to Racine. And now, data show that nearly half of the students receiving vouchers in that city were already enrolled in private schools before the program was put in place.

But Sen. Glenn Grothman, R-West Bend, an outspoken advocate for expanding vouchers to all people and all school districts, says he believes there’s a good side to higher-income families participating in the program: It promotes marriage.

“I think the major thing is we cannot allow the voucher program to penalize married couples,” he told me in a brief phone conversation Monday morning. “In Milwaukee, we raised (the limit) to 300 percent of the federal poverty line and we began to get more married couples in the program, and I don’t want to back off on that.”

The veteran legislator is worried that current negotiations over a further expansion of vouchers to other districts may result in lower income thresholds for voucher recipients and thus reduce the number of two-parent families participating in the program.

Grothman is the same state senator who authored a bill last year to label single parenthood as “a contributing factor to child abuse and neglect.”

Wisconsin Republicans Try to Limit Power of Courts Blocking Their Agenda

Last week, we reported on the creative and constitutionally questionable efforts by Iowa Republicans to punish the state supreme court justices who issued the state’s landmark marriage equality ruling.

Now, Wisconsin Republicans are up to something similar, seeking to strip county circuit court judges of the ability to issue preliminary injunctions on laws that may be unconstitutional. The measure, which was introduced last month and had public hearings yesterday, is widely seen as a reaction to judicial injunctions on efforts by state Republicans to impose voter ID requirements and limit collective bargaining rights.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel explains:

With some of their major legislative achievements thwarted by trial courts in the past two years, Wisconsin Republicans have been looking for ways to rein in local judges, particularly in liberal areas such as Dane County.

Since 2011, circuit court judges have blocked all or parts of laws backed by Republicans that required voters to show photo ID at the polls, limited collective bargaining for public employees and expanded the governor's power over administrative rules. Under a measure announced last month, such injunctions would be automatically stayed as soon as they were appealed - meaning laws that were blocked would be put back in effect until a higher court issued a ruling.

The state’s nonpartisan Legislative Council is now warning that the bill is likely unconstitutional.

Incidentally, one of the bill’s sponsors is state Sen. Glenn Grothman, who last year tried to get a state public health agency to list single parenthood listed as “a contributing factor to child abuse and neglect.”
 

Common Sense Gun Solutions Struggle Against Mindless NRA and GOP Opposition

The big gun lobby and its yes men in Congress, it seems, are much more interested in protecting the loose regulations of the gun industry than they are with taking practical steps towards public safety.
PFAW

PFAW Calls on Republican Governors to Follow Virginia’s Lead, Denounce Election-Rigging

WASHINGTON – People For the American Way today called on the Republican governors of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Ohio to reject plans to rig their states’ electoral vote apportionment. Today, a Virginia state Senate committee resoundingly  rejected a similar plan by a vote of 11-4.

A People For the American Way petition denouncing the election-rigging scheme has gathered over 80,000 signatures.

“The GOP should be trying to earn the respect of voters, not rigging the system against voters’ wishes,” said Michael Keegan, President of People For the American Way. “The Virginia Senate’s rejection of this plan should be a warning for those proposing it in other states. This is an extremist gambit, and it damages the credibility of those who support it. It is stunning that this scheme has gotten as far as it has. Governors Walker, Corbett and Kasich should take the lead in their states and stop this undemocratic plan before it goes any further.”
 

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PFAWF Releases Reports on Outside Election Spending in 21 States, Organizes ‘Money Out/Voters In’ Events Across the U.S.

Out of State Money Floods Contests in 2012

Washington, DC –  Today People For the American Way Foundation unveiled new state-by-state fact sheets detailing outside spending in U.S. Senate and House races in 21 states.  Each report analyzes the outside spending totals from Super PACs, dark money groups, and out-of-state spenders in the down ballot federal races from the 2012 election cycle.  The fact sheets reveal that, on average, a majority of outside election money in these states came from Super PACs.  And in every case, a vast majority came from organizations registered outside of the state.

The release of the “Outside Spending, Outsized Influence” reports coincide with the weekend marking Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and the third anniversary of Citizens United v. FEC  to draw attention to the dual threats of voter suppression and unlimited corporate and special interest money in politics. The reports – a partnership between PFAWF and U.S. PIRG – are part of the Money Out/Voters In campaign.  As part of that campaign, People For the American Way Foundation, its affiliate People For the American Way, and other organizers across the country are hosting “Day of Action” events in more than 76 cities in 33 states this weekend. Members of People For the American Way Foundation’s African American Ministers Leadership Council will be leading Money Out/Voters In events in Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Virginia.

“Last year’s elections were far and away the most expensive in history,” said People For the American Way Foundation Executive Vice President Marge Baker.  “A major reason was the influx of outside, special interest spending in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. FEC decision. When big money floods our elections, it dwarfs the ability of individual Americans to have their voices heard. Just as important, when politicians push laws to suppress the vote, we turn back the clock on decades on progress to expand and improve our democracy. We need to pursue the full range of remedies to address the problem of too much money in politics, including amending the Constitution to overturn Citizens United, and we need to stand up against the growing threat of voter suppression.  This weekend we are joining with allies across the country to call for a democracy that gets Money Out and Voters In.”

The states featured in the reports are California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin.

For links to each report, please visit: http://www.pfaw.org/issues/outside-spending-outsized-influence-big-and-s...

For more information about the Money Out/Voters In campaign or the Days of Action, please visit: http://www.moneyout-votersin.org

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GOP Electoral College Power Play Tests Our Democracy

The GOP proposal to game the Electoral College in key blue states represents a massive escalation in the GOP war against electoral democracy.
PFAW

Reince Priebus, Ron Johnson to Headline Dinner Hosted by Birther Alabama GOP Chair

Sen. Rand Paul isn’t the only prominent Republican hanging out with birthers these days. Next month, RNC chairman Reince Preibus and Wisconson Sen. Ron Johnson will travel to Alabama to headline a dinner hosted by state GOP chairman Bill Armistead. Armistead raised eyebrows last year when he publicly recommended “Dreams From My Real Father,” a “documentary” that promotes the alternate birther theory that President Obama somehow inherited a Marxist worldview from his “real father” Frank Marshall Davis. Somewhat unbelievably, Armistead stated that he had “verified that it is factual, all of it.”

Interestingly, Priebus and Johnson will be stepping into the middle of a fight over whether Armistead will keep his job. (He faces a challenger backed by his longtime rival, state House Speaker Mike Hubbard.) Charles Dean at the Birmingham News reports that Priebus might be attending as a political favored to Armistead:

Some saw Tuesday's late announcement by Armistead that Priebus had accepted the invitation to attend the dinner as a sign that maybe Armistead had convinced the GOP national party chairman to support him.

Late last week Armistead announced that he was supporting Priebus for a second term as Republican Party Chairman. So far Priebus is unopposed for a second term but rumors have persisted for months that a challenger might step up.

UPDATE: The RNC tells the Birmingham News that Priebus is not taking sides in the party chairmanship race.

LaBarbera: Tammy Baldwin 'Hardly a Role Model,' Lacks 'Healthy, Wholesome Behaviors'

Peter LaBarbera of Americans for Truth about Homosexuality was indignant about the “shocking” election of Wisconsin Democrat Tammy Baldwin to the U.S. Senate, making her the first openly gay Senator. He told Jim Schneider of VCY America on Crosstalk that Baldwin is “hardly a role model for young women,” whom he says should uphold “healthy, wholesome behaviors, not lesbianism.”

LaBarbera: All of the sudden I wake up to the news and look on the TV and see that Tammy Baldwin, a radical homosexual and pro-abortion feminist, everything’s on the left in her policies, is now elected Senator in Wisconsin. It was quite shocking.

Schneider: The Human Rights Campaign, they call themselves ‘the largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality,’ they celebrated this, they attribute part of this, to ensure her victory they said ‘they raised and contributed well over $500,000 for her campaign’ and they said Tammy Baldwin is ‘a role model for LGBT youth and young women across the country.’

LaBarbera: Human Rights Campaign should be called the Human Wrongs Campaign; it’s a homosexual pressure group and we would expect them to be celebrating Tammy Baldwin’s victory. But she’s hardly a role model for young women, we want women to embrace marriage and healthy, wholesome behaviors, not lesbianism. Her policies are to the far-left, she’s pro-abortion, in so many ways she represents what’s wrong with the left and now she’s going to be in the Senate for six years.

Recounting the other defeats gay equality opponents suffered in the election, LaBarbera warned that more Americans are embracing the “complete blasphemy” of same-sex marriage and that we are “seeing a civilization’s moral decline” with the rise of the “side of sin, of evil, the pro-homosexual side.”

The idea of homosexual marriage is a complete blasphemy and you would think that with most Christians the vast majority would get it and not affirm such positions, but sadly I think our society is de-Christianizing, it is becoming more secular, a recent study showed that a shocking number of Americans are unchurched. You see in such an environment, basically you are seeing a civilization’s moral decline, the secular forces, the sin movement which is homosexual rights, has more momentum. Unless we see revival in this country, we’re going to see more of this where the side of sin, of evil, the pro-homosexual side, has more energy than the side of good, which is the defense of marriage.

LaBarbera also attacked UPS for ending its financing of the Boy Scouts because the organization conflicts from the company’s anti-discrimination policy, and said that “I think most Americans agree that we don’t want homosexual men out camping in tents in forest with young boys, I certainly wouldn’t want a homosexual man, an open homosexual, with my young son.”

Look who the real discriminators are, it’s UPS, they are saying if you adhere to a certain policy, which happens to be the Boy Scouts’ moral creed, their morally straight policy which precludes homosexual Scout Masters, and I think most Americans agree that we don’t want homosexual men out camping in tents in forest with young boys, I certainly wouldn’t want a homosexual man, an open homosexual, with my young son. Yet that is called discrimination and they lose the funding while the Human Rights Campaign, which has multimillions of dollars, this hugely funded homosexual group, will continue to get UPS’s funding.

Romney Campaign Trains Poll Watchers With False Information

With all the fact checkers focused on campaign speeches and debates, Mitt Romney’s campaign is turning to a new outlet for their lies: poll watcher trainings. In Wisconsin the Romney campaign has been training poll watchers with false information about voter’s rights, according to a ThinkProgress article today. In truth, Wisconsin law makes it easy for eligible voters to cast a ballot, and it's critically important that we don't let the Romney campaign scare any voters away from the polls.

In one egregious example, the training materials indicate that voter IDs must have photos, which is not the case in Wisconsin. ThinkProgress points out other disturbing claims the training materials make, including:

CLAIM: On page 16, entitled “The ONLY Acceptable Forms of ‘Proof of Residency”, the third bullet point says “Any other identification card issued by an employer in the normal course of business and bearing a photo of the cardholder, but not including a business card.” The sixth bullet point also said any college ID card “must include a photo.”

FACT: Wisconsin’s new voter ID law, which would have required these photos in order to vote, was struck down by Wisconsin state judges. It is not in effect for the November 2012 election.

CLAIM: Any “person [who] has been convicted of treason, a felony, or bribery” isn’t eligible to vote. (Page 10)

FACT: [In Wisconsin] Once a person who has been convicted of a felony completes his or her sentence, including probation and fines, that person is eligible to vote.

CLAIM: “If a handicapped voter is unable to come into the polls to vote, an assistant can deliver the ballot to the voter if the CEI verifies the elector’s proof of residency.” (Page 19)

FACT: Under Wisconsin law, the CEI (Chief Election Inspector) does not have to verify proof of residency so long as the voter is registered.

This is not a case of a single training gone awry. These trainings have been held across the state for the past two weeks. This is an instance of Mitt Romney’s campaign repeatedly spreading lies to poll watchers.

In recent months our affiliate People For the American Way Foundation has written about many attempts from the Right at voter suppression – from limiting early voting opportunities to proposing or passing voter ID legislation, purportedly to combat the virtually nonexistent issue of voter fraud.

Romney's efforts to disenfranchise those least likely to support him in Wisconsin is no surprise. Instead, it is just another component of a systemic nationwide effort to deny Americans the right to vote. The Romney campaign knows exactly what it is doing by spreading blatant falsehoods in its training materials – lies likely to cause serious damage to voting rights on Election Day.

Despite the lies of the Romney campaign, voting is easy and accessible. Let's make sure we turn out the vote and make our voices heard in this critical election.

PFAW

The Right to Vote Under Attack, 2012 Update

Here we detail, as of October 6, 2012, except where otherwise noted, the latest efforts across the country to suppress the vote, as well as some encouraging successes in expanding the franchise.

Kuhner: 'Gay Gestapo' Will Have Opponents 'Burnt at the Stake'

Janet Mefferd brought Washington Times columnist Jeffrey Kuhner on her radio show yesterday to shower praise on his wildly anti-gay column attacking Tammy Baldiwn, the openly gay Democratic congresswoman running for U.S. Senate in Wisconsin. They kicked off the program by mocking gay Massachusetts congressman Barney Frank’s marriage to his “male husband or wife” and Kuhner joked that he will support same-sex marriage only if Frank or his husband can get pregnant.

Mefferd: I love this line, the left got so mad at you for saying this, you say, ‘the last thing Wisconsin needs is Barney Frank in a dress’ and I thought, who is that insulting, Barney Frank’s manhood? I’m not even sure. Aren’t they transgender-friendly, why are they mad about that?

Kuhner: He’s married now and I’ve issued a challenge to Barney Frank. I said, Barney, the purpose of marriage is to have children, now if you and your male husband or wife, I don’t know how to put this, your male partner, if one of you can get pregnant because now they’re in the honeymoon phase, they’re lovers, I said if one of you can get pregnant and you can pull off a miracle I will openly support gay marriage. So I am waiting for a miracle from Barney.

Mefferd: That’s very magnanimous, well good for you.

Kuhner had previously told Mefferd that the LGBT community promotes “civilizational collapse” and is “even worse than the radical Islamists” and “brutal dictatorships,” and yesterday maintained that the “gay gestapo” is the “most frightening, scariest lobby” in politics. He said Baldwin’s Republican opponent Tommy Thompson should not have apologized over a campaign aide’s smear email targeting Baldwin for attending a gay pride rally, arguing that a pride parade is like a “bordello” and “pornography on asphalt.” Kuhner advised Thompson to remind voters that homosexuality is “destructive” and “harmful” to children.

Kuhner: Here you have a woman who is not just an open lesbian, she’s been an active promoter of the gay lifestyle, she’s an active promoter of gay pride, she’s always in these marches. I’ve been to some of these marchers, for example, you go to the one in San Francisco, it’s a bordello. The public displays, this is not fit for people to see. It’s basically pornography in public, on asphalt. When I look at this and I see the way Tammy Baldwin has behaved and conducted herself and the values that she preaches and champions I don’t understand why Tommy Thompson is apologizing, in fact I would do the opposite. If I were Tommy Thompson I would say very simply: marriage is between a man and a woman, we do not believe that homosexual behavior is natural and moral. Every major faith: Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, going back thousands of years, in most cultures today, in most civilizations today, understand marriage to be between a man and a woman. 

If Tammy Baldwin wants to be lesbian in the privacy of her own bedroom, that’s her business. But when she makes it a public issue, when she starts promoting a lifestyle that we know is immoral and we know is destructive and we know has a harmful impact, especially on children. Children who are adopted by homosexual couples clearly don’t do as well as children that are adopted by heterosexual couples. Why? Because children need — newsflash to the liberals — a mommy and a daddy. Instead what we have is the gay gestapo who go out and try to intimidate morally, economically, professionally and personally anybody who speaks out against the homosexual agenda. After my piece came out—Janet I said this on your show before and I’ll say it again—the homosexual lobby is to me the most frightening, scariest lobby whenever I publish a piece. They are the worst.

They ended the show by warning that gays promote a form of “totalitarianism” and “will do everything possible to destroy” those who are in their way. “Either you accept homosexuality or you are burnt at the stake,” Kuhner said.

Kuhner: There’s nothing tolerant about it, there’s nothing inclusive about it, there’s nothing compassionate about it. They preach an intellectual, moral totalitarianism. Either you accept homosexuality or you are burnt at the stake, professionally your career will be finished, and they will do everything possible to destroy you. Well to me, that’s not America.

Mefferd: No, that’s not America and that’s why this agenda has to be stopped. As you said very well, it’s one thing to allow people the personal freedom to conduct themselves the way they choose in their own home and not have the state intrude into people’s bedrooms, but when it becomes a matter of public policy, as you say very well, it affects all of us, it affects our religious freedom when it comes down to it.

People For the American Way Expands Latino Vote Campaign, Launches New TV Ad in Four Swing States

Washington, DC -- People For the American Way expanded its campaign targeting Latino voters this week, adding outreach in Nevada and North Carolina and launching the second in a series of Spanish-language television ads exposing Mitt Romney's dangerous agenda for Latinos. The ad, running in key markets in Nevada, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin, features interviews with real voters reacting to Romney's promise to veto the DREAM Act if it were to be passed by Congress. The two TV ads, along with radio and direct mail outreach are part of a $1.2 million and growing campaign in key swing states.
 
The new ad, "Dream Act," can be viewed here.
 
"Mitt Romney has been very clear about his extreme anti-Latino agenda," said Michael Keegan, president of People For the American Way. "He slammed Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic Supreme Court Justice. He touted the endorsement of Kris Kobach, the architect of disastrous, draconian anti-immigrant measures in Arizona and Alabama. He vowed to make life so difficult for undocumented immigrants that they would be forced to 'self-deport.' He even rejected the DREAM Act, which after being partially implemented by President Obama's executive order, is helping thousands of loyal, hard-working young Americans give back to the country they call home."
 
"Romney plans to heap further tax cuts on the wealthiest at the expense of programs that benefit working people,"continued Keegan. "Americans should have a shot at the American dream. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan want to slam the door on all but the already privileged few."

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UPDATE: State legislation shines national spotlight on voter ID

"On voting rights in America, the arc of the universe has indeed been long, centuries long, from the three-fifths compromise in the Constitution to the poll tax to the literacy test. But it has always bent toward justice. These new laws seek to bend the arc backward again, to take away from people their effective right to vote."
PFAW Foundation

People For the American Way Endorses Rob Zerban for Congress

Washington, DC – People For the American Way today announced its endorsement of Rob Zerban for Congress. Zerban is a strong progressive who is running to defeat Rep. Paul Ryan in Wisconsin’s 1st District.

“Rob Zerban is a great candidate and will make a great representative of Southeast Wisconsin in Congress,” said Randy Borntrager, Political Director of People For the American Way. “Rob knows what it will take to rebuild the American middle class. He’s committed to preserving the social safety net while building a strong economy where businesses can thrive.

“At a time when the Republican party is embracing extremism at all levels, Rob will be a strong voice for all Wisconsinites. Rob’s opponent, Paul Ryan, joined with Missouri Rep. Todd Akin in an attempt to redefine rape, and is now hoping to carry his party’s War on Women to the White House as vice president.

“Ryan is also the architect of the GOP’s disastrous plan to destroy Medicare and trash the social contract. Ryan’s now peddling that plan to the nation as the Republican candidate for vice president, but he also has to face the voters of his own district. America can’t afford to have Paul Ryan in the driver’s seat for our economy, in the White House or in Congress.”

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John Lehman Victorious in Wisconsin State Senate Recount

Official recount results released today show Sen. Lehman defeating incumbent Republican Sen. Van Wanggaard.

“The official canvas after the June 5 elections showed Lehman leading Wanggaard by 834 votes out of nearly 72,000 ballots cast in Racine County's 21st Senate District — a victory that would give Democrats a one-seat majority in the Senate. Wanggaard, however, refused to concede and demanded the recount.

The final tally from the Racine County clerk's office Monday showed Lehman winning by 819 votes, with the Democrat tallying 36,358 votes to Wanggaard's 35,539.”

Sen. Lehman’s victory gives Democrats control of the Wisconsin Senate for the first time since Gov. Scott Walker took office in January of last year.

The razor thin margin affirms that every penny spent in this race was critical in helping Sen. Lehman reclaim the seat he lost to Sen. Wanggaard in 2010.  People For’s members played an active role in this race, and we couldn’t be prouder of what they achieved.

Despite Sen. Lehman's big win, the race is not over yet.  Wisconsin state law holds that the Government Accountability Board must wait 5 days before the results can be offically certified and Democrats can once again regain control of the Senate.  Sen. Wanggaard has until July 10th to formally file a challenge.

Once these final obstacles are cleared, John Lehman will rejoin his colleagues in the Senate and help continue the fight to protect the rights of Wisconsin workers.

PFAW
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