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To work as individuals and in community for social justice
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or send a check (made out to Women's Voices) marked "Common Sense Fund" or "Advocacy Fund" (on the memo line) to:
Women's Voices 705 Elm Tree Ln Kirkwood MO 63122
The Melanie Shouse Memorial Advocacy Fund has been established to honor the memory of one of our most effective members. Melanie was an active participant in Women's Voices' health care and environment focus groups, as well as in many other local, state and national initiatives. Contributions to this fund, which are tax-deductible, will be used to support Women's Voices' advocacy work for social justice.
Who We Are
We are a group of ardent, progressive St. Louis area women who finally got fed up.
We became so concerned about the direction of this country and where its priorities seem to be that we decided we must do something. From our frustration and determination, Women's Voices Raised for Social Justice was born.
We are the only multi-issue social justice organization in St. Louis that is not affiliated with a religious tradition. We partner with many other groups in our work, and we try not to re-invent the wheel. We study many different issues and take action for a variety of causes.
Our members are curious, creative, competent and caring.
We believe in doing something meaningful in support of our values, and we have great fun and camaraderie in doing so. If you would like to add your voice to ours, we welcome you to join us.
The document is an attempt to "start conversations, challenge assumptions, and help make the St. Louis region a place where youth can thrive," according to Jamala Rogers, one of its authors.
Already supported by representatives of 23 local organizations, the agenda focuses on recreation and after-school programs, jobs and job readiness, quality education and health care.
Pride Parade: An Explosion of Love That Has Its Roots In Hate
May 15, 2013
Marching in the Pride Parade is a proud tradition for Women's Voices. It was the first major activity that members undertook shortly after the group was organized in 2005. We'll be there again this year on Sunday, June 30, when the parade moves to downtown St. Louis. Look for our banner and our signs with quotations from famous LGBT individuals!
Why do we love to march in the Pride Parade? Author Cheryl Strayed, in her book "Tiny Beautiful Things," describes it perfectly:
Have you ever been to a LGBT Pride parade? Every year I take [my children] to the one in our city and every year I cry while watching it. There are the drag queens riding in Corvettes. There are the queer cops and firefighters all spiffed out in their uniforms. There are the lesbians on bicycles pulling their kids on tag-alongs and trailers. There are the gay samba dancers in thongs and feathers. There are the drummers and politicians and the odd people who are really into retro automobiles. There are choirs and brass bands and battalions of people riding horses. There are real estate agents and clowns, schoolteachers and Republicans. And they all go marching by us while my kids laugh and I weep.
My kids never understand why I'm crying. The parade seems like a party to them, and when I try to explain that the party is an explosion of love that has its roots in hate, I only confuse them more, so together we just stand on the sidelines, laughing and crying, watching that ecstatic parade.
I think I cry because it always strikes me as sacred, all those people going by. People who decided simply to live their truth, even when doing so wasn't simple. Each and every one of them had the courage to say, This is who I am even if you'll crucify me for it.
Those who are interested in joining us in the Parade should email Mary O'Reilly. She will send out details as the parade gets closer.
Member Testifies About PayDay Lending Efforts
May 13, 2013
Barbara Paulus, a member of the Women's Voices board of directors, and the Rev. David Gerth, executive director of Metropolitan Congregations United (MCU) in St. Louis, recently traveled to Washington, D.C., to talk about payday lending at a meeting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops committee on domestic justice and human development.
Barbara testified about the work in Missouri last year to raise the minimum wage by $1 per hour and cap the interest rate on payday loans at 36 per cent.
The committee is gathering information about income inequality and predatory lending for possible use in its annual Labor Day statement. Several speakers discussed 'wage theft' and income inequality; other discussion centered on the "formal" vs. "informal" economy; economic social sins; and the need to determine "who are we as a nation" so that people understand why everyone should care about these issues.
Barbara told stories of three people she encountered in the campaign who were caught in the debt trap of payday lending. Statistics she shared with the group:
While the average APR for payday loans in Missouri is 455 per cent, Missouri law allows rates as high as 1,950 per cent on payday, car title and other consumer installment loans.
There are currently more than 975 licensed payday lenders in Missouri, not to mention the hundreds of car title lenders and pawnshops-more than McDonald's and Starbucks combined.
The predatory lending industry drains more than $317 million from Missouri's economy each year, since most of the establishments are owned by out-of-state businesses.
Hundreds of thousands of signatures from registered voters throughout the state were gathered in the 2012 effort to cap the payday lending rate at 36 percent. Even though enough signatures were obtained, the opposition's legal team challenged each and every move possible, and time ran out to quality for the ballot, Rev. Gerth explained.
"Even though we failed to qualify for the ballot, this campaign most assuredly promoted a revived sense of political responsibility and many St. Louis area residents answered the call to be informed and active citizens, participating in the debate over the values and vision that guide our communities and nation. Their voices were heard on behalf of those who suffer at the hands of predatory lenders," Barbara said.
Ad Launches Campaign For Common-sense Solutions
May 11, 2013
Mother's Day, Sunday, May 12, 2013, marked the launch of Women's Voices Campaign for Common-Sense Gun Solutions. We marked the event with a full-page ad in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (see below), and by distributing flyers at the annual art fair at Laumeier Sculpture Park.
The ad was made possible by contributions from members of Women's Voices, private donations from physicians and staff members at St. Louis Children's Hospital and Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center, and other concerned citizens. Special thanks to Lynn Ezell of Sterling, VA, for graphic design services.
Women's Voices is partnering with Promo to provide a series of community conversations on LGBT discrimination protections in the St. Louis region.
Called "To Protect and Welcome," the series is designed to explain how communities throughout the St. Louis region are passing ordinances to protect the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in employment, housing and public accommodations.
Programs will be held on Wednesday, June 5, at the Cliff Cave Branch of the St. Louis Public Library, 5430 Telegraph Rd.; on Tuesday, June 11, at the Kirkwood Community Center; and on Tuesday, June 18, at The Corner Coffee House, 100 N. Florissant Rd. in Ferguson.
Promo is Missouri's legislative organization that advocates for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality.
WV Urges St. Louis To Guard Water Supply
May 1, 2013
Thanks to the work of Women's Voices members who keep a close eye on issues affecting our environment, our organization was able to add its voice to the chorus of others who are cautioning St. Louis city leaders not to enter into a contract with Veolia Environment.
In a letter to St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, Comptroller Darlene Green and Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed, WV President Mary Clemons wrote that the city should not enter into a contract with "a company known around the world for mismanagement, customer complaints, falsifying records, over-charging customers and poor employee relations."
Rainy Saturday Doesn't Delay
or Keep Our Health Care Advocates Away
April 30, 2013
When members of the Missouri Senate Appropriations Committee came to O'Fallon on Saturday, April 27, to hold a hearing on conceal/carry permits, they got quite a surprise.
They were greeted by 75 activists holding "Burma Shave"-type slogans, calling for Medicaid Expansion Now. Inside the hearing room, along the back wall, a phalanx of letter signs spelled out, "EXPAND MEDICAID."
When the hearing began, it was evident there were more people interested in Medicaid expansion than any other issue. Women's Voices member Bunnie Gronborg was one of several allowed to testify. She and others remarked that they own guns, but they are more concerned about the lack of health insurance for 260,000 Missourians. They also warned that legislators will be held responsible for any delay in expanding Medicaid.
Thanks to Joyce Borgmeyer, Joyce Clark, Ruth Ehresman, Alice Geary and Bunnie for representing Women's Voices at this event.
Full Medicaid Expansion NOW!
April 17, 2013
At the end of Women's Voices April educational program on Medicaid expansion, Professor Sidney Watson asked the audience: "What do we say?" The crowd of almost 100 people responded with a boistrous "Full Medicaid Expansion NOW!."
That cry was the theme of a rally and lobby day in Jefferson City on April 16. Women's Voices members joined 2,800 fired up Missourians from all areas of the state to urge legislators to include Medicaid expansion in next year's budget, and they forcefully insisted that it be expanded to the full 138 percent of the federal poverty level. This would provide health care for 260,000 uninsured Missourians.
At the afternoon rally in the rotunda, Joe Reagan, president and CEO of the St. Louis Regional Chamber of Commerce, reiterated that the Chamber "supports full, affordable access to health insurance." Commenting on the current stringent eligibility requirements for Medicaid, Governor Nixon remarked that "It's easier for workers to get health care in Missouri by quitting a job. It's not right!"
The following members and supporters of Women's Voices participated in the event: Bunnie and Gary Gronborg, Barbara Paulus, Sue Bohm, Joyce Clark, Mary Clemons, Rea Kleeman, Ruth Ehresman, Roxanne Miller, Ann Mandelstamm, Carolyn Crowe, Judy Uglade, Alice Geary, Sharon Hollander, Susan Cunningham, Marty Rulo, Deb Lavender, Nelda Carlise-Gray and Dixie Buford.
Campaign Launch for Common-Sense Gun Solutions
April 9, 2013
The latest advocacy effort for Women's Voices focuses on gun violence.
"We've been aware for years that gun violence is a problem in America," said President Mary Clemons. "You can't think about Columbine, Virginia Tech, Tucson, Aurora and Newtown without the realization that something is very wrong in this country."
Under the banner of "Campaign for Common-Sense Gun Solutions," Women's Voices will launch a variety of educational efforts, beginning on Mother's Day weekend in May. Several activities are under consideration, and we invite all our members and friends to suggest ideas.
We also invite contributions for this effort. Women's Voices is eight years old, and this is the first time in our short history that we have had any kind of fund-raising campaign. Donations may be made online via the "Donate to Common Sense Fund" button on this page, or checks (made out to Women's Voices) may be sent to:
Common Sense Campaign, 705 Elm Tree Ln, Kirkwood, MO 63122.
"Of all the social justice issues we have in this country, the need for common-sense solutions to the problem of gun violence is probably the most pressing," said Barbara Finch, chair of the campaign. "Most of us in Women's Voices are mothers. This is an issue of safety and health. There is no way we can stand idly by and not try to make a safer, better world for our children."
Other members of the committee working on the campaign are Lise Bernstein, Jeanne Bubb, Beverly Rehfeld, Carol Wofsey and Ruth Ehresman.
Visit this site often to keep track of our campaign.
April 9, 2013
Women's Voices Grows Up by Barbara Finch
If anyone ever writes a history of Women's Voices, they can make a note of this day: April 8, 2013. This is the day that Women's Voices grew up.
This is the day that members of a new advocacy effort, "Campaign for Common-Sense Gun Solutions," decided that it was time for us to acknowledge that money is power. Of course, we've always known this. We just didn't think it applied to us.
When Ruth Ann Cioci, Joanne Kelly, Ann Ruger and I organized this group in the summer of 2005, we talked about how much dues we could charge our members. We wanted (and we still want) to be a welcoming, inclusive group. We didn't want anyone to refuse to join because of money. So we set our annual dues at a whopping $20 per year. A couple of years later, we upped it to $25 per year when we realized that we had some expenses (meeting room space, web site, email programs, etc.) Our student rate is $10 per year. To say that we are frugal would be an understatement. We have never paid any of our speakers (a few lucky ones did get a Women's Voices t-shirt). We even hit up our members for cookies for our meetings.
On April 8, some of us began to think a little differently. We had been working on an ad campaign for common-sense solutions to the problem of gun violence in America. We had a great ad (designed by a volunteer, of course.) But we needed money to be able to run it. Several of us had contacted a number of local organizations and individuals, seeking contributions. At the time of the meeting, we had no support in sight.
That's when we started thinking: we should do this ourselves. If this ad is such a good idea, our members should support it. And we should not hesitate to ask them for money. We need to take financial responsibility for our own projects. We can talk about social justice all we want, but if no one hears us, what's the point?
The women around the table at that meeting reached for their check books, and many others have done the same since we decided that "fund raising" was not a dirty word (or two). Granted, asking for money isn't fun. But we have a worthy project and we are not willing to abandon it just because asking for funds to support it is not always comfortable.
We are confident that our members and friends will respond positively to our first campaign for cash. We have a great track record of being thoughtful and responsible in all the projects we undertake. We need to make our voices heard on the issue of gun violence and sensible solutions to the problem. We invite you to join us in this effort.
Women's Voices has a position on reproductive choice, and we believe that contraceptive coverage, as outlined in the Affordable Care Act, should be provided at no cost to every woman who wants it.
President Mary Clemons, with assistance from our member Ruth Ehresman, recently submitted comments to the Department of Health and Human Services, urging that no exemptions be given to for-profit organizations or individual employers which would enable them to deny coverage based on religious values. Read the text of the letter here.
President Provides Testimony For Medicaid Expansion
February 22, 2013
A bill to expand Missouri's Medicaid eligibility to those making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level was filed in the Missouri House of Representatives. Mary Clemons, president of Women's Voices, provided the following written testimony for a hearing scheduled for Feb. 25:
Testimony in support of HB627
Submitted to Missouri House of Representatives Government Oversight and Accountability Committee
My name is Mary Clemons. I am the president of Women's Voices Raised for Social Justice. Women's Voices, an organization of 560 women, supports the expansion of Medicaid (Missouri Health Net) and urges you to vote in support of this important bill.
Currently Missouri has such strict eligibility restrictions that a single mother earning more than $3,500 a year is not allowed to enroll in the Health Net program. And single adults without children don't qualify at all. Our disabled neighbors who earn more than $792 a month aren't eligible for coverage. Choosing between caring for your family or buying needed medication isn't the kind of choice our citizens should have to make. As I heard someone say recently, our safety net has holes. We have an unprecedented opportunity to patch the net and give over 250,000 uninsured Missourians needed health coverage.
I would hope that this bill would have bi-partisan support. The diversity of groups supporting Medicaid expansion - from the Missouri Chamber of Commerce, the Missouri Hospital Association, the Missouri Association of Social Welfare, and the many organizations in the Missouri Medicaid Coalition - makes it clear that this is an issue that resonates across political party lines and in communities across the state - urban and rural. Studies have shown that expanding the Medicaid program would provide needed jobs in the state. And the studies have shown that our hospitals, particularly in the rural districts, would be at risk without the expansion. And as governors across the country who had not supported the new health care law are now realizing, Medicaid expansion makes good sense. As Gov. Rick Scott said this week, "While the federal government is committed to paying 100 percent of the cost of new people in Medicaid, I cannot, in good conscience, deny the uninsured access to care."
Women's Voices for Social Justice commends Representatives Hummel and Kirkton and the sponsors of HB627 and urges the Committee to move this bill forward for the benefit of the citizens of Missouri.
We Support Renewable Energy Standards
February 9, 2013
Women's Voices has signed a resolution in support of full implementation of Missouri's Renewable Energy Standards. In 2008, voters passed the Renewable Energy Standards Act, which required utility companies to supply two per cent of energy they sell to Missouri customers from renewable energy sources starting in 2011. That percentage gradually increases to five per cent by 2014, 10 per cent by 2018 and 15 per cent by 2021.
A bill coming up for debate in the Missouri House of Representatives (HB44) would undermine the will of the people and allow utility companies to comply with the law without actually supplying the requisite amount of energy from renewable sources.
Position On Gun Violence And Gun Control
February 4, 2013
Members of Women's Voices have voted to approve a position paper on gun violence and gun control. Here is what we believe:
Members of Women's Voices Raised for Social Justice strongly support current efforts by President Barack Obama and various groups, states, and legislators to control the quantity and types of guns available in the United States. To use the words of President Obama in his speech after the massacre of 20 children and 6 adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, in December 2012, we are not prepared to say we are powerless and that such violence visited on our children year after year is somehow the price of our freedom.
Although we approve of New York's recent gun legislation, as well as the efforts of other state legislators, we believe it is time for federal gun laws. Excessive guns are contributing to violence that is a national public health crisis:
Each year in the United States there are approximately 30,000 firearm-related homicides and suicides. (www.whitehouse.gov)
There have been at least 62 mass shootings in the United States in the past 30 years (7 in 2012 alone). "www.motherjones.com, "The NRA Myth of Arming the Good Guys", Mark Follman, December 28, 2012)
The current maze of state gun statutes undercuts the laws of states with tough restrictions when guns come in from states with weak laws. ("St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "Maze of gun laws in US hurts gun control efforts," Eileen Sullivan, Associated Press, January 26, 2013.)
Data and research funding on gun violence are necessary to determine the causes of gun violence and hold the firearms industry accountable for their role in the epidemic.
We therefore support the president's gun control proposals, which were released January 16, 2013. Read the full proposal - "Now Is the Time."
This comprehensive plan includes the following provisions:
Requires background checks for all gun sales
Strengthens the background check system for gun sales
Passes a stronger ban on assault weapons
Limits ammunition magazines to 10 rounds
Takes armor-piercing bullets off the streets
Gives law-enforcement additional tools to prevent and prosecute gun crime
Ends the freeze on gun violence research
Makes schools safer with new resource officers and counselors, better emergency response plans, and more nurturing school climates
Provides for coverage of mental health treatment, particularly for young people
Forbids straw gun purchases
Removes restrictions on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) that authorize the importation of weapons at least 50 years old
Protects doctors who discuss safe firearms with their patients
Efforts to suppress the vote in Missouri got underway shortly after Women's Voices was organized in 2005, and we have been opposing these efforts every year since then. Following is a letter that Women's Voices President Mary Clemons sent to the chair and vice chair of the House Elections Committee, urging them to vote NO on HB216:
Dear Representatives Enticher and Neth,
Women's Voices Raised for Social Justice is an organization reaching over 550 women in Missouri. We were formally organized in 2005 and since that time have consistently opposed any attempts to restrict voting rights. We had an amicus brief in the case that went before the Missouri Supreme court which ruled in 2006 that a law requiring that Missouri citizens show government issued photo ID's when voting was a "heavy and substantial" burden on the right to vote. We are dismayed that every year we have to fight this battle again. We urge you to stop bringing these proposed bills before our legislature.
Voting fraud in Missouri is not a problem, but voter suppression would be. Requiring a government-issued photo ID would make it harder for many valid, eligible voters to vote. Suppressing the vote in this manner for political gain undermines our democracy.
Mary Clemons, president, Women's Voices Raised for Social Justice
Why Do We Oppose Current Voter Id Proposals?
February 3, 2013
Elections should be free, fair and accessible to all who are eligible. Voting brings us together as Americans and as Missourians. As the leading democracy in the world, we should work to make voting more accessible, not less. The photo ID bills make it harder for many valid, eligible voters to cast a ballot.
Voting is the one time we are all equal - young or old, rich or poor, educated or un-educated. But that doesn't work if some people are denied a voice. These photo ID proposals would relegate 250,000 Missouri voters to second-class citizens.
Missouri already requires all voters to show ID. All voters must show ID to vote - and it works. There has never been an instance of voter impersonation in Missouri.
Politicians shouldn't make it harder to vote in order to manipulate the system for political gain. Voters should take responsibility for understanding the rules and complying, but we shouldn't make voting harder than it needs to be.
These bills needlessly restrict ID. These proposals limit acceptable forms of ID only to current Missouri or Federal photo ID's with photos and expiration dates - typically a current Missouri driver's or non-driver's license. The bills would not allow a college ID, driver's license from another state, an expired ID, voter registration card, utility bill or other currently acceptable ID that can effectively verify a voter's identity.
250,000 Missouri voters lack a state ID. Seniors, African Americans, people with disabilities, the working poor and students are twice as likely to lack a non-expired Missouri-issued ID. These laws fall hardest on the elderly, veterans, young people and communities of color.
Photo ID laws are a modern-day poll tax. The barriers to getting IDs would effectively prevent many valid eligible voters from voting. It can be costly, difficult - even impossible - to get underlying documents (such as certified birth certificate or marriage license) required to get a state ID. (i.e., Joplin tornado victims, those born at home, those whose birth state can't locate their records - may not be able to get the documents.)
Photo ID laws are currently unconstitutional in Missouri. The Missouri Supreme Court ruled that a photo ID requirement is "a heavy and substantial burden on Missourian's free exercise of the right of suffrage." The proposals would weaken the constitutional protection for the right to vote.
Voter fraud is a serious crime, punishable by 5 years in prison, a $10,000 fine and loss of voting for life.
It is expensive - it could cost Missouri $7 - 20 million in the midst of a budget crisis - with no benefit to the integrity to elections. Photo ID doesn't address voter registration or absentee voting problems.
Many thanks to Denise Lieberman, senior attorney and Missouri Voter Protection Advocate with the Advancement Project, for supplying these talking points.
Want Some Radioactivity In Your Drinking Water?
January 22, 2013
Ruth Ann Cioci and Alice Serrano, two original members of the Women's Voices Environment Focus Group, attended a recent meeting called by the Environmental Protection Agency to discuss the West Lake Landfill superfund site. Purpose of the public hearing was to reconsider the 2008 EPA decision to leave radioactive wastes in the Missouri River floodplain. These wastes threaten the drinking water of more than 300,000 people in north St. Louis County, as well as people living downstream.
In the summer of 2012, groundwater samples were taken at the West Lake Landfill. The EPA meeting focused on the results of the groundwater testing, a timeline to move forward, and an overall site update.
According to Alice Serrano, the history of the site is complicated and is rooted in the early days of the Manhattan Project, when radioactive wastes generated by Mallinckrodt Chemical Co. were illegally dumped. Because the site is located near the Missouri River, the water source of much of our community, there will be a threat to our drinking water for many generations to come.
The Army Corps of Engineers has removed more than 1,000,000 cubic yards of radioactive material around the St. Louis area that was related to the development of nuclear weapons. However, none of the same type of radioactive materials have been removed from the West Lake Landfill by the EPA.
The WV Environment Focus Group encourages everyone to contact their elected officials to request the removal of radioactive material from the West Lake Landfill.
Women's Voices Members Join Effort To End Gun Violence
January 17, 2013
A near-capacity crowd filled the sanctuary of Central Reform Congregation on Thursday, Jan. 17, to hear a variety of community leaders give a sobering report on gun violence in America.
"From a news perspective, Sandy Hook was the worst story ever to happen; it should be the Sept. 11 of gun control," said St. Louis Journalist Ray Hartmann, who moderated the program. "If more guns made us safer, America would be the safest place on earth."
The program was sponsored by Missouri State Representatives Jeanne Kirkton of Webster Groves and Stacey Newman of Richmond Heights. It was co-sponsored by Women's Voices Raised for Social Justice and Central Reform congregation.
Dr. Robert Kennedy, a pediatrician who works in the emergency room at St. Louis Children's Hospital, recited a litany of facts and figures as well as stories of some of the trauma cases he has encountered. "I do things every day that make me shudder," he said.
Calling gun violence a "truly American problem," he said that teenagers in this country are more likely to be shot than anywhere else in the world.
"In the last seven years, we have seen 612 kids in our ER who have been shot. One third of them are younger than 14. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 6,570 children were killed by guns in America last year," he said.
Both Dr. Kennedy and another panelist, Dr. Duru Sakhrani, a child psychiatrist at Mercy Hospital, addressed the problem of child suicide.
"Children in this country age 5 to 14 are ten times more likely to be victims of suicide than kids on other countries," Dr. Kennedy said. "Parents are naive. Kids know where the guns are and how to use them. And guns are 90 percent effective in suicide."
Dr. Sakhrani echoed the concerns about suicide. When she meets with the parents of children who have suicidal ideation, she always asks about the presence of guns in the home. Parents are often resistant to the idea of taking the guns out of the house, she said. A round of applause greeted her comment, "Our children's lives are more important than the objects we want to possess."
Dr. Sakhrini also addressed the issue of mental health and gun violence. "There has been a rush to judgment about the mental health of many perpetrators of gun violence," she said. "Mentally ill individuals are not usually violent, and there is little credible data to support a relationship between mental illness and gun violence."
However, 25 percent of Americans will have a psychiatric illness at some time during their lives, and she urged additional funding and increased resources for treatment for these people. "Resources for mental illness are the first to be cut out of the budget. But our mentally ill are out there, needing treatment and finding none."
Retired Hazelwood Chief of Police Carl Wolf also stressed the need for additional resources for the law enforcement community. "We have 300 million guns in this country; we know we are going to have problems," he said. He described a number of problems police officers have with easy access to guns, including straw purchases, weapons that are bought and sold illegally, and black market deals. He also offered some suggestions for keeping school children safe, including placing inside locks on classroom doors. He does not recommend that teachers be armed.
Rabbi Susan Talve of Central Reform Congregation put the problem in a moral context. "We have turned guns into gods, and this is idolatry," she said. "The gun lobby uses fear to their advantage. We must recognize this, and realize that now is the time to stop doing business as usual."
Rep. Newman concluded the program by distributing a fact sheet about guns and the NRA, and a list of seven steps people can take to help end the epidemic of gun violence. They are:
Call your congressional leaders and demand that they support President Obama's gun control initiatives.
Call the Missouri Speaker of the House (Tim Jones) and the Majority Floor Leader (John Diehl) and demand that they advance a bill that would require background checks for all gun sales.
Sign petitions and follow the work of national gun violence prevention organizations.
Write letters to the editor demanding support from elected officials.
Spread the word on social media.
Advocate for safe storage and gun locks for friends and neighbors who own firearms; ask if there are guns in homes where children play and visit.
"Earlier this month, I filed HB187, a bill that would require background checks on all gun purchasers in Missouri," Rep. Newman said. "But I predict that it will not even get a hearing."
Medicaid Expansion Campaign Kickoff
January 16, 2013
On Wednesday morning, January 16, over 20 Women's Voices members and friends joined nearly 200 St. Louis area residents at a Press Conference to kick-off the campaign to advocate for expansion of Medicaid in Missouri. Organizers of the press conference were members of a state-wide coalition representing over 20 organizations, including Women's Voices. Similar events were held in Kansas City and Springfield, Missouri.
Read a summary of the press conference here.
You can also follow the coalition on Facebook.
Are You Sure You Know What The Affordable Care Act Means?
Since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June, 2012, that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is constitutional, it has become apparent that many Americans do not realize the benefits we will all receive as a result of this legislation. Here are some facts about the Affordable Care Act, and how it is already benefiting residents of Missouri.
How This Act Is Helping Missourians NOW:
39,667 young adults have gained health care coverage through their parents' insurance plans.
1,031 individuals with pre-existing conditions now have health care coverage.
More than $60 million will be returned to 590,000 consumers in Missouri from insurance companies that did not spend 80 to 85 percent of their premiums on actual health care for their policy holders. This amounts to an average of $173 per family.
Missouri residents with Medicare have saved a total of $78,454,108 on their prescription drugs. In the first five months of 2012, 13,876 people on Medicare received a 50 percent discount on their covered brand-name prescription drugs when they hit the "donut hole." This discount has resulted in an average savings of $598 per person.
Health centers in Missouri have received $61.2 million to create new sites in medically underserved areas to increase the number of patients served, expand preventive and primary health care services, and/or support major construction and renovation projects.
More than two million Missourians received preventative health services, such as mammograms or colonoscopies, with no co-pay because of the ACA.
How the ACA Protects Women:
Being a woman is no longer a "pre-existing condition." Yes, women were denied coverage for just being women before the Affordable Care Act was law.
Insurance companies can't charge women more than they do men. Before the Affordable Care Act was law, women were sometimes charged up to 150 percent more than men of the same age.
Breast cancer screenings, cervical cancer screenings, domestic violence counseling and screenings and many other preventive care measures now must be covered by insurance companies.
Birth control is now covered by health insurance.
Women can now receive pre-natal care and counseling and help with breast feeding and supplies.
How the Affordable Care Act Benefits Everyone:
Insurance companies can't take away your coverage if you become too sick.
You cannot be denied insurance coverage because of a pre-existing condition.
Seniors receive a 50 percent discount on prescription drugs when they hit the "donut hole."
Small businesses get tax credits to purchase insurance for their employees.
There are no more lifetime limits on your coverage.
Fifteen million more people will receive coverage because of expanded access to Medicaid. Millions of Americans will receive tax credits to help them purchase insurance--people who wouldn't be able to afford it otherwise.
Twelve million seniors are already receiving free preventive care through Medicare.
from our April Program on Medicaid Expansion can be viewed on our Past Programs page.
(see article in middle column)
June 11 - 6:30 p.m.
Promo Education Series Kirkwood Community Ctr, Rm 202
June 30 - 11:00 a.m.
Pride Parade Downtown St. Louis
Quote of the Week
"Welcome to Missouri, felons. You're free to do what you wish. But beware, law enforcement officers: It will be a crime now in Missouri (theoretically) for you to take a gun from a criminal."
... Editorial in St. Louis Post-Dispatch, commenting on HB436 passed by Missouri Legislature
Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down Awards
to a new law in California, which requires all semi-automatic handguns to be equipped with technology that stamps its identifying information on bullet casings. Read more here.
to Kirkwood Mayor Art McDonnell, who, after prompting by members of Women's Voices, signed on to Mayors Against Illegal Guns.
to the state of Minnesota, which became the third state in the month of May to legalize same-sex marriage.
to the brave low-wage workers who went on strike in St. Louis May 9 to demand a living wage, and to the advocates for economic justice who supported them.
to the state of California, which enacted a law to speed up the confiscation of firearms from people who bought them legally but were later disqualified because of a conviction for a violent crime, a finding of mental illness, or a restraining order for domestic violence.
to the state of Maryland where lawmakers repealed the death penalty, making it the sixth state in six years to abolish capital punishment.
to Missouri Senator Roy Blunt, who collected $1.6 million from gun lobbying groups before he cast his vote against expanding criminal background checks in gun sales.
to GE Capital, which has stopped offering consumer financing programs to retailers whose main business is selling guns.
to the North County 24:1 initiative, spearheaded by Beyond Housing, whose members were invited to tell their story of working together for community development to the White House Office of Neighborhood Revitalization.
to members of the Rock Hill Board of Aldermen, who defeated a resolution in support of a national background check for all commercial gun sales in the U.S.
to the 2800 Missourians who rallied at the capitol on April 16 in support of Medicaid expansion.
to legislators who left the capitol building so they would not have to confront the expansion supporters.
to Senators Joe Manchin and Patrick Toomey, who crafted a bi-partisan amendment to the proposed gun control legislation dealing with background checks.
to a group of Republican senators, who are threatening to refuse to allow the legislation to come up for a vote
to legislators in Connecticut, who have agreed on the most far-reaching gun legislation in the country.
to some of the nation's biggest banks, which have entered the world of payday lending by offering short-term loans with interest rates up to 300 percent.
to the Governor of Colorado, who signed bills that put new restrictions on sales of firearms and ammunition in the state.
to U. S. District Judge Audrey Fleissig, who struck down a Missouri law exempting moral objectors from mandatory birth control coverage.
to members of the Clayton Board of Aldermen, who passed a resolution in support of several measures to reduce gun violence.
to members of the Missouri Senate, who voted 23-11 to institute massive tax cuts that would make it even more difficult to fund vital state services such as education and public safety
to members of the U.S. House of Representatives, who finally, after months of pressure, re-authorized the Violence Against Women Act.
to the Danforth Center on Religion and Politics at Washington University, for bringing activist and attorney Sandra Fluke to St. Louis for several events on Feb. 12.
to Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander, who is setting up a commission to examine the pros and cons of early voting in Missouri
to the National Council of Jewish Women-St. Louis Section, which has received a Section Champion for Social Change award from the national organization.
to MIssouri Gov. Jay Nixon, for his initiatives to expand access to early childhood education throughout Missouri.
on proposed legislation which would make it easier for investor-owned utilities (like Ameren) to raise utility rates without proving the need to do so before the Public Service Commission. Ameren has been granted rate increases by the PSC in five of the past six years.
to Veolia Water, a company that has a global record of environmental problems, which is now trying to obtain a $250,000 contract with the City of St. Louis for analysis of the City Water Division.
to the state of Missouri, which has missed out on e-commerce taxes that could have raised $2.3 billion during the past nine years, according to researchers at the University of Missouri Truman School of Public Affairs
to three local charitable organizations: the OASIS Institute, the Wyman Center and College Bound, which, because of their demonstrated results, have been included in the new Social Impact 100 Index
to federal Judge Audry Fleissig, who issued a temporary restraining order to block a new Missouri law that requires insurers to offer policies excluding birth control coverage.
to the City of Kirkwood, which added sexual orientation and gender identity to its anti-discrimination ordinance, and to members of Women's Voices who supported the council members during their deliberations.
to St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and University City Mayor Shelley Welsch, the only local mayors to join the coalition Mayors Against Illegal Guns. Both signed on to a letter to President Barack Obama regarding the need to change gun legislation in the United States.
to Urban Strategies and McCormack Baron Salazar, who are partnering in an effort to construct an early childhood education center for 154 children in the 63106 zip code, which has the city's lowest average household income.
to Midwest Bank Centre, which recently became the first-ever full-service bank in the city of Pagedale, and to Chris Krehmeyer of Beyond Housing, who has worked tirelessly to bring services to this low-income minority community
to Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, who has announced that he supports expansion of the Medicaid program to cover more than 220,000 Missourians.
to Missouri legislators, who have announced that they will oppose any expansion of Medicaid despite the fact that much of the expansion will be covered by federal dollars.
to the St. Louis County Council, which approved a non-discrimination ordinance that includes strong protections for LGBT persons in the workplace.
to Kelly Garrett, one of the speakers at our Sept. 2012 program, who authored an op-ed titled "Help Great Schools Flourish in Missouri" in the Nov. 21 edition of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
to St. Louis-based Patriot Coal Corp., which has agreed to become the first U.S. coal operator to phase out and eventually stop all large-scale mountaintop removal mining in central Appalachia.
to the state of California, which has launched a wide-ranging "cap and trade" system designed to control emissions of heat-trapping gases and spur investment in clean technologies.
to the Missouri Department of Corrections, where a new program was launched this year to plant and harvest gardens and donate the produce.
to food pantries across the state. More than 100 tons of produce have been donated to food pantries through this program in 2012
to the St. Louis Public School District, which has received provisional accreditation from the State of Missouri.
to Darden Restaurants, owners of the Red Lobster and Olive Garden chains, for their plan to reduce many workers to part-time employment status so the company does not have to provide health insurance or an insurance stipend, as required by the Affordable Care Act.
to the city of Maplewood, where anti-discrimination protections have been expanded to residents who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
to Walmart, whose Sept. 22 glossy advertising flyer in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch featured a variety of firearms, including rifles, shotguns, ammunition, scopes, machetes and night-vision cameras.
to former State Rep. Jeanette Mott Oxford, a champion for social justice, who has been named the new executive director of the Missouri Association of Social Welfare.
to members of the Missouri legislature, who overrode Gov. Jay Nixon's veto of a bill that would allow employers and insurers to refuse to cover birth control, abortion or sterilization for religious reasons.
to out-of-state payday lenders and corporations that have prevented Missourians from voting on initiative petitions to curb the rate of payday lending and increase the minimum wage in this state.
to many St. Louis area churches, who are participating in "Souls to the Polls,"a get-out-the-vote effort for the November election.
to the city of Ferguson, where members of the city council unanimously voted to pass basic protections for members of the lesbian gay, bixsexual transgender community.
to creditors, lawyers and the courts for the use of "body attachment," the practice of arresting persons who owe money to payday lenders and holding them in jail until a court hearing or the debtor is able to post bail.
to members of the Missouri Supreme Court, who refused to set execution dates for six death row inmates because the courts have not yet decided if Missouri's proposed new execution method (using one drug) is constitutional
to the Missouri Supreme Court, which has confirmed ballot titles and language for initiative petitions to cap the rate of payday lending and raise the minimum wage in Missouri.
to owners of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, who initiated another round of layoffs at the paper that included reporters, editors, and the award-winning editorial cartoonist.
to the City of Creve Coeur, where members of the City Council passed an ordinance that includes non-discrimination protections for LGBT individuals in employment, housing and public accommodations.
to Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, who has vetoed a bill that would have allowed employers to decline to provide insurance coverage for abortion, contraception or sterilization.
to all actively engaged citizens who are making phone calls, writing checks, putting up yard signs and in other ways supporting the candidates of their choice during this election cycle.
to WV member and health care expert Sidney Watson, who was interviewed by William Freivogel in the July 2 edition of the St. Louis Beacon. In a warning for Missouri residents, Watson said: "It is possible that some states will not voluntarily expand Medicaid and we will end up with the poorest left out."