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Excerpt: "We are not going back. Not only are we not going to retreat on women's rights, we are going to expand them. We are going forward, not backward."

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) (photo: WDCpix)
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) (photo: WDCpix)



United Against the War on Women

By Bernie Sanders, Reader Supported News

01 May 12

 

he history of American democracy, to say the least, has been checkered. Our nation was founded at a time when people of African descent were held in bondage. After slavery was abolished, they were forced to endure legal discrimination for another 100 years.

When our country was formed, women were not just second-class citizens. They were third- or fourth-class citizens. Women couldn't vote or play a significant role in the political life of the nation. Women, in many cases, couldn't own property and were legally regarded as subservient in marriage. The educational and economic opportunities open to women were extremely limited. And, of course, women were unable to have control over their own bodies.

In the last 50 years, as the result of an enormous amount of effort on the part of the women's movement and its male allies, we as a nation have made significant progress in the fight for gender equality. Clearly, much, much more needs to be done, but few would deny that our country has come a very long way in this struggle. In Vermont, Governor Madeleine Kunin has given years of service to our state after becoming the state's first female governor in 1985. She is an inspiration to girls throughout Vermont and the country in allowing them to know that the opportunities they have are unlimited.

At rallies in Vermont and across the country this weekend, our message was clear. We are not going back. Not only are we not going to retreat on women's rights, we are going to expand them. We are going forward, not backward.

We are not returning to the days of back-room abortions, when countless women died or were maimed. The decision about abortion must remain a decision for the woman, her family and physician to make, not the government.

We are not going back to the days when women could not have full access to birth control. Incredibly, here in the year 2012, that is exactly what the Blunt Amendment, which we defeated last month in the Senate, was all about. The Blunt Amendment would have allowed any employer who provided health insurance, or any insurance company, the right to deny coverage for contraception or any other kind of procedure if the employer had a "moral" objection to it. While I am glad that we defeated this horrendous amendment, it certainly was a sad day in our country when every Republican, save one, voted for it.

We are not going back to the days of wide-scale domestic violence, even if 31 Republican men in the Senate recently voted against the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act because it expanded coverage to the gay community and Native Americans.

We are not going back to the days when it was legal for women to be paid less for doing the same work as men, even if the governor of Wisconsin recently signed a bill to repeal that state's pay-equity law.

Further, not only are we going to protect and expand those laws which deal directly with women's rights, we are going to vigorously defend the important laws and programs which protect all working people in our country - women and men alike.

In the midst of this terrible recession we say NO to cuts in Social Security, a program which is so important to all of our seniors, but especially to women.

When 50 million Americans have no health insurance we say NO to cuts in Medicare and Medicaid which protect tens of millions of Americans, but is especially important to women and their children.

The right-wing in this country is waging a war against women and, let me be very clear, it is not a war that we are going to allow them to win.

But if they want political warfare, we must expand the field of battle, and we must be on the offensive.

Let us wage a moral and political war against the billionaires and corporate leaders, on Wall Street and elsewhere, whose policies and greed are destroying the middle class of America.

Let us wage a moral and political war against the gross wealth and income inequality in America, the worst in the industrialized world, which is tearing this country and our economy apart.

Let us wage a moral and political war against a dysfunctional health care system and fight for a Medicare-for-all single-payer system.

Let us wage a moral and political war against war itself, so that we can cut military spending and use that money for human needs.

Finally, let understand that when we stand together, we will always win. When men and women stand together for justice, we win. When blacks, whites and Hispanics stand together for justice, we win. When straights and gays stand together for justice, we win. When young and old stand together for justice, we win. When working families stand together, we win.

Vermont is a national leader in the fight for a new health care system, for the transformation of our energy system, and in support of family farming and organic agriculture. We were the first state in the country to pass a civil union law and the first state to pass gay marriage legislation without a court order.

Now, we must continue and expand our efforts to be national leaders in the fight for gender equality.

I have seven beautiful grandchildren, four of whom are girls. Let us all work together in making sure that those four girls, and every girl in our state and country, has the same opportunity as anyone else to fulfill their dreams and live their lives without gender discrimination of any kind.

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Comments   

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-176 # Dumbledorf 2012-05-01 09:31
WHAT ABOUT MEN'S RIGHTS? NEVER IS A SINGLE WORD MENTIONED ABOUT THIS ISSUE.

TO BE A WHITE MALE IN THIS STRATIFIED, RACIST AMERICAN CULTURE IS A AUTOMATIC DEATH SENTENCE!

THINK ABOUT IT!
 
 
+111 # SeySands 2012-05-01 09:57
Men's rights and the rights of women are all human rights. When men are forced to endure pregnancies against their will, work for lower pay than women doing the same job and submit to beatings by spouses women will step right up and demand that rights be insured for those inflicted.
And if while males are being automatically killed ... well ... there seems to be a lack of reporting of the phenomenon.
 
 
+92 # carp 2012-05-01 09:59
Is this why there is such a concentrated effort,over 1000 bills considered and over 400 of em passed to knock down women's rights because your white male rights are losing it's righteous spot at the top of the totem pole? You need to lower the playing field? Fact of the matter if you males white or otherwise had not dropped your obligations to the children you have spawned Women would not need these legislated gains Sanders is speaking of. Your rights end when you take away mine. I can never tell what it is you white males want. you want us pregnant or do you want us to keep an aspirin between our knees?
 
 
+21 # opinionaire 2012-05-01 11:45
Hyperbole is rarely useful, either in winning converts or making your point.
 
 
+28 # Sweet Pea 2012-05-01 12:02
Quoting Dumbledorf:
WHAT ABOUT MEN'S RIGHTS? NEVER IS A SINGLE WORD MENTIONED ABOUT THIS ISSUE.

TO BE A WHITE MALE IN THIS STRATIFIED, RACIST AMERICAN CULTURE IS A AUTOMATIC DEATH SENTENCE!

THINK ABOUT IT!

I think that most "white" men have had absolute rights over females for plenty of years - - as a female I have seen myself and many other qualified women never advancing in the workplace- - simply because they were female. I have seen women take physical abuse from husbands and boyfriends- - -simply because they are female. Men have ruled the culture on Earth for many years. I'm sorry, but I think it is payback time.
 
 
+18 # jwb110 2012-05-01 12:34
Quoting Dumbledorf:
WHAT ABOUT MEN'S RIGHTS? NEVER IS A SINGLE WORD MENTIONED ABOUT THIS ISSUE.

TO BE A WHITE MALE IN THIS STRATIFIED, RACIST AMERICAN CULTURE IS A AUTOMATIC DEATH SENTENCE!

THINK ABOUT IT!


Stop being such a cry baby. I am white and other whites have been beating the crap out of me and standing on my neck for years.
 
 
+36 # Glen 2012-05-01 12:35
You know, Dumbledorf, I understand your sentiment. I do. Of course, this article concerns women specifically. Lately, we've not seen much that has to do with limiting what men can do legally, most especially concerning their health.

Yep, I've seen men be subjected to abuse by both men and women, and men have some serious issues on social and work levels. But it cannot be considered a death sentence.

A woman needing healthcare and being denied that care, especially during pregnancy, can truly see a death sentence.
 
 
+8 # grrrr 2012-05-01 12:40
Are you kidding me?
 
 
+8 # KittatinyHawk 2012-05-01 20:13
If you looked at the stance We included men in our front against Congress.

Your attitude remeind me of an abuser...Kick your dog today, ???
 
 
+80 # srf123 2012-05-01 09:33
Senator Sanders you have said it all except... It's Time To Ratify The ERA!!!
"Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex".
There's a reason why it's never been ratified and now we know why. Even the Vatican is trying to supress women.

We have started this petition to put this amendment back in the news.

Just cut and past, sign and please pass this on to everyone you know. http://signon.org/sign/ratify-the-era?source=c.fwd.in&r_by=4150332
 
 
+67 # Alice W 2012-05-01 09:55
You're right srf123--it's time to ratify the ERA. Anything Sen Sanders talks about is just talk without women being protected under the US Constitution. And we're not. Even Antonin Scallia says women are not covered under the "Equal Protection" clause of the 14th Amendment. The founding fathers had no intention of including women. When Abigail Adams asked John to "remember the ladies" he laughed in her face. Because of the Madison Amendment, there is precedent for an unlimited amount of time to ratify. We only need three more states to make the ERA, this simple profound sentence, the next amendment to the Constitution. Now is the time. Sign this petition and make your voice be heard. Senator Sanders, please sign it also, and pass it on to your colleagues.
 
 
-19 # KittatinyHawk 2012-05-01 20:17
Even the Vatican I was born and raised a Catholic and I have never been harassed by my Faith. Other Faiths have been stoned, killed I have never seen that, never will.
Keep your anti Catholic nonsense in that brainless head. They never stopped my family for having only two kids either more bs lies from outside the first Christian Faith.
 
 
+88 # juliajayne 2012-05-01 09:52
I'll I can say is God bless Bernie Sanders, a stalwart in the good fight.
 
 
-88 # MidwestTom 2012-05-01 10:14
As Hillary's view of the village (government) raising children slowly becomes a reality here, and historical family groupings disappear, we can become like Nazi Germany in the 1930's where girls who wanted to have children went to camps to get pregnant, and were then 100% supported by the state, while those that wanted to work alongside men got equal wages and benefits as the male coworkers All for the glory of the state.
 
 
+30 # hbheinze 2012-05-01 14:04
Just one point---if you've read "It Takes a Village," you know that Hillary Clinton was definitely not talking about the government raising children. Her book has been gleefully mischaracterize d by many who read only the title, and not the book.
 
 
-63 # MidwestTom 2012-05-01 10:19
Meanwhile many of the Muslim women in our midst are simply baby factories, with literally no rights, which they accept as part of the religion. In another 30 or 40 years when they become a major factor in some areas of this country you will not have to worry about women's rights, there won't be any.
 
 
+43 # tclose 2012-05-01 10:42
Tom - the advantage that Muslim women in our midst have is that they live in the US, a country that provides expanded opportunities for women, especially compared to the former countries they came from that lived under Sharia Law. Bernie is right - we need to fight to keep in that way, and to expand these opportunities.
 
 
-21 # MidwestTom 2012-05-01 12:56
According to data from the state of Michigan the average Muslim women in that state has eight children. At their current birth rate within twelve years they will be the majority in Dearborn if counting children and adults. Everyone should visit Dearborn when they call for prayers, and visit the WalMart, you will not believe that you are in American with about half of fthe women wearing their total coverups.
 
 
+12 # juliajayne 2012-05-01 14:37
What exactly are you trying to say MT. Just spit it out already!
 
 
+5 # KittatinyHawk 2012-05-01 20:19
I heard this crap about Faiths since the 50's by those who were raised by Racists, it get old fast
 
 
+11 # CandH 2012-05-01 14:55
Hm, I'm reminded of an old midwest saying--chicken s coming home to roost--since it is the US-funded CIA that has heavily influenced Muslim culture WITHIN those Muslim countries:

"1984-1994: CIA Funds Militant Textbooks for Afghanistan
The US, through USAID and the University of Nebraska, spends millions of dollars developing and printing textbooks for Afghan schoolchildren. The textbooks are “filled with violent images and militant Islamic teachings, part of covert attempts to spur resistance to the Soviet occupation.” For instance, children are “taught to count with illustrations showing tanks, missiles, and land mines.” Lacking any alternative, millions of these textbooks are used long after 1994; the Taliban will still be using them in 2001. In 2002, the US will start producing less violent versions of the same books, which President Bush says will have “respect for human dignity, instead of indoctrinating students with fanaticism and bigotry.” (He will fail to mention who created those earlier books.) Washington Post, 3/23/2002" http://www.historycommons.org/entity.jsp?entity=university_of_nebraska
 
 
+78 # JudyBG 2012-05-01 10:23
Thank God for people like Bernie Sanders.

I was divided between amusement and sorrow over the comment that to be a white male in this society is an automatic death sentence. To see the world in such a distorted way is sad--but it's also so preposterous that it's rather humourous. It would be even more amusing if so many others didn't seriously believe it as well. Then it's neither sad nor funny, but frightening.
 
 
+62 # Trish42 2012-05-01 10:26
Can I come live in Vermont, Bernie? What a treat it must be to live in a state where legislators actually have thinking brains....
from Currently-Livin g-in-South-Caro lina
 
 
+19 # hbheinze 2012-05-01 14:05
Trish42, I can sympathize. I am Currently-Livin g-in-Alabama. Nuff said. "Bless your heart!"
 
 
+6 # CandH 2012-05-01 15:02
Trish/hbh: I live in Militarist Silicon Valley. Every day, it's like immersing oneself in a combination of Orwell's 1984 preposterousnes s, Christian/Catho lic fundamentalist regiments, and Nazi-like perverse psychoses, all wrapped into a kind of cultural insanity around you. Hedges has it right, when he says "Welcome to the Asylum" [USA]: http://readersupportednews.org/off-site-opinion-section/72-72/11207-focus-welcome-to-the-asylum. I think we're all living in it now.
 
 
-15 # DaveM 2012-05-01 10:30
I entirely agree that the rights of American women must be protected. We must not, however, forget the rights of American men. No American is free of threats to his or her civil rights by present trends in right-wing politics.

Furthermore, well-intentione d laws like the Violence Against Women Act have come to be used as tools of abuse by spiteful women. It is long past time that we recognized that bad behavior is not a gender issue. We must ensure that all Americans, whether they possess a Y chromosome or not, have equal access to the law and equal rights under the Constitution of the United States.
 
 
+60 # srf123 2012-05-01 10:45
DaveM, the ERA states "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of SEX". This includes men, God love ya!
 
 
+31 # GeeRob 2012-05-01 12:19
Dave, do you know why 31 Republican senators voted against VAWA? Because it was gender neutral, immigration status neutral, gay/lesbian/bis exual/transgend ered neutral. It includes everyone.
 
 
+21 # Glen 2012-05-01 12:51
Yeah, Dave, I have seen the law backfire against men. Therefore, I understand your and Dumbledorf's concerns. Both men and women should be protected. Neither men nor women should be allowed to manipulate the law in their favor. It does happen and I have seen it in divorces, domestic discord, on the job, in church, and so on.

These recent changes have to do with women in particular though. It concerns health care, and pregnancy, and the prevention of pregnancy. Men have no worries on that level. Therefore, we must step aside in an effort to assist women.

In other areas, both social and legal, we should all stick together for equal rights and not let laws become a weapon, rather than an assist.
 
 
+28 # Vonney 2012-05-01 11:10
Thank God for men like Bernie Sanders.

As for all of you White-Anglo-Sax on-Males whining that you have no rights, LOL, LOL, ROFLMBO!!! You stole your rights 4,000 years ago, and you have abused them miserably ever since. Anyone who reads local, national, international news daily can see this very clearly. So, either wake up and smell the coffee, and get on board, or go cry in your beer with your pals Benedict, Joseph Smith and the Taliban.
 
 
+23 # okie_mule 2012-05-01 13:14
I wrote a poem once about so many of my heroes being dead and so few living. Bernie Sanders is truly one of my heroes. I love the man, what he stands for and how he does it. We need so many more like him; I could use a few more heroes.
 
 
+13 # deegal 2012-05-01 15:14
What a wonderful speech by Senator Bernie Sanders. Great man!
 
 
+12 # Innocent Victim 2012-05-01 15:41
Surely, I shall receive many thumbs-down for my comment: among US dissenters, there is no agreement on priorities. The 1% have a clear focus, to extract as much wealth as possible from the rest of us. We are more numerous but with limited funds and with a broad spectrum of complaints. That spectrum is divided into matters of foreign policy and domestic policy, almost as if they were independent of each other, which is untrue.

Readers may recall that MLK received much criticism because he antagonized LBJ in demanding an end to the Vietnam War. He was told he should concentrate on racism. MLK understood that the war in Vietnam was undermining the war on racism.

Similarly, the imperial, perpetual wars of the US, today, are undermining all of the social gains in fighting racism, gender discrimination, income inequality, environmental protection and civil liberties of every sort.

We should take a lesson from MLK and make US imperialism and militarism the priority targets of our dissent, no matter how strongly we feel about other issues. We cannot win on the other issues, no substantial and lasting victories, so long as we are impoverished materially and spiritually by our imperialism. After all, WE the 99% are the ones being colonized by the 1% by US imperialism.
 
 
-4 # michele6933 2012-05-01 15:43
I have written to Sen Bernie and asked him why Progressives are so very conerned and helpful to the humans and NEVER consider in a pro-active way Animal Welfare, Animal Rights, Animal Liberation ? Is it because animals do not vote and cannot contribute to the politicians' coffers ? I hope Sen Sanders replies to my mail in a positive way; his liberal and compassionate views, if extended to animals, will mean many votes toward his re-election.I hope one day soon, we come to see how we mistreat animals today in the same manner of how we treated slaves and women in the past. It is time to go forward and demand justice for all creation.
 
 
+5 # KittatinyHawk 2012-05-01 20:31
I do animals activism, I have rescued many animals...but we have laws for animals, more recognition of puppy mills now than for over 30 years I have fought
Right now women need their rights solidified....L eaders who would allow us to slide into a slave like position are the same ones allowing our Wildlife to be killed daily.
Think it is time we took a stand, Standing up for women is a stand for all creatures, all things given to us. Women do not take things for granted, we have the grace and responsibility of creating life. We have the responsibility to raise our children. Once we put our name back where it belongs, we must make awareness of abuse more Public. Abusers Abuse, let us put a stop to this one step at a time. Today is Our Time.
 
 
+5 # Innocent Victim 2012-05-01 16:16
And oh! how politicians love to be loved!

Sanders does seem to be among the better ones, but I don't love any of them. I think I respect his politics.
 
 
+11 # Art947 2012-05-01 17:28
It is always a pleasure to hear or read thee words of the great senator from the State of Vermont, Bernie Sanders. He is eloquent, logical, and clearly understands that the rights of ALL Americans must be protected, and the needs of our population must be met to further the aim of our Constitution which is to promote the general welfare.

To the author of the comment: (and I paraphrase) to live in this country as a white male is to have an automatic death sentence, I suggest that he realize that everyone who is born has a automatic death sentence, however, we are not privy to the time or place of this event. Hopefully we live our lives so that the good we do will live after us and we will make America a better place as a result of our efforts!

I would suggest that we "call out" the names of the 31 members of the Senate who voted against the prevention of VAW Act every day. We should also castigate those who voted against the Lily Ledbetter equal pay legislation. These individuals should NOT be allowed to hide their bigotry at any time.

Thank you Bernie Sanders for helping to make sure that my children (sons and daughters) and their offspring have an opportunity to live in a better America than the one they entered as infants.
 
 
+3 # Innocent Victim 2012-05-01 22:10
Art947: You are living in a dream, Sir. It is too late! This is Rome after Marius and Sulla. We even have the proscription: the President write a name and sends it to the CIA, and the man behind the name is doomed (droned?) The Constitution is dead as were the traditions of Republican Rome. The military is the new law. The NSA, CIA, FBI all determining, with the Congress's and Obama's approval - before or after the fact - what is "legal" or what must be made "legal". Young people with marketable skills ought to consider emigrating.
 
 
0 # KittatinyHawk 2012-05-01 20:34
I get tired of hearing the Clones. Nice to hear words from a real person. Hope his sentiment is spreading.

Any Woman in any Position that allows us to fall backwards will deserve what she gets. They will take your leadership, your Political Positions, Companies, Sports Teams out from under you...they will not stop at this...warned you all years ago....Shame on any woman who cannot see the whole picture. There will be no coming back, they will shoot us like terrorists.
 
 
+3 # Alice W 2012-05-01 21:14
Women have no protection without the ERA. Men can't give us protection, lovely as they may be. The US Constitution is our savior, not the Congress, not Bernie Sanders. Why isn't everyone talking about this? Sign the petition to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment
http://signon.org/sign/ratify-the-era?source=c.fwd.in&r_by4150332

or use this 'tiny url' http://tinyurl.com/ca9kv7d to get to the petition. Thanks from your daughters and granddaughters, and theirs.
 
 
0 # paddyrican 2012-05-01 20:59
Hey Bernie: While I don't question the importance of protecting women, there is a greater threat to both genders, which is the FRB dispursing $16TRILLION to U.S.& foreign banks between 2007&2010 which,as you are aware, was disclosed in the GAO audit of the Fed released in July,2011.
 
 
+9 # adickinson 2012-05-01 21:20
Thank you, Bernie Sanders, for your support for women and for your eloquent words. Well-said! Your past actions have shown that you are a man of integrity, too, who follows through.

There are many wonderful men who support their women to be successful. When I was on the school board, my husband baked cookies for the school board closed session meetings. They loved him!

He had a wonderful career as an anesthetist and treated his patients with respect and care.

He treats me and all the women he encounters the same.

We are thankful for men of integrity, wisdom, gentleness, and courage.

My mom had a Masters Degree in Oral Interpretation of Literature from Northwestern University in Chicago in 1945. My dad was becoming a minister, and she took that time to get a further education too (and then had us five children, who loved books and had lots of poetry memorized.) She gave speeches before large congregations.

When men and women work together, with equal rights, what a wonderful world.
 
 
+1 # KittatinyHawk 2012-05-02 21:46
We have been trying for this for decades but there is fear. Need now to keep women in 'their place' I do not see this as moving forward but backwards.

There is a wedge being driven, and if allowed to be hammered into place it will be an undoing.

I never read anywhere that we were created unequal. I never read it was okay to hit women or men or children or animals...still do not believe it is okay. My parents, grandparents never thought of each other as having one job or a lesser one. Never did I see them strike each other. Guess I was lucky.
 
 
+8 # paula schramm 2012-05-02 11:21
Wow ! What weird riffs some people get into when someone says something good about standing up for women's rights...
I would say that the human rights of all get advanced when we stand up for the human rights of any one group. True for women, true for men, true for people of color,true for whites,
true for those with disabilities, for LGTB community, for all of us ! ( And yes, when humans all begin to enjoy being treated equally and with justice, it gets easier for them to have empathy for , and want humane treatment for other animals too...)
 

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