National Secular Movement Update Call
Call Every Thursday at Noon (EST)
Phone Number: 559-726-1300 Code: 199568
June 7th, 2012
White House and Congressional Update:
- House of Representatives: House in session this week, in recess next week. The House continues to consider appropriations bills. The Energy and Water and the Homeland Security appropriations bills are on the floor this week. Will continue 2 weeks in session, one week out until August recess. House getting ready for debate surrounding dept limit increase and other economic policies.
- Senate: Senate in session this week and next week. The Senate disposed of a wage discrimination/pay equity bill earlier in the week and is now considering the Farm bill. Expected to be focused on the Farm Bill for 1-6 weeks.
- White House: President still focusing on the “to-do” list for Congress. The Student Loan interest rates will become a larger topic as they double on July 1. The President is speaking on that issue in Las Vegas today.
- Campaigns and Conventions: Democratic National Convetion is September 4-6 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Republican National Convention is August 27-30 in Tampa, Florida. Contacts established with Romney and Obama campaigns.
- Supreme Court: Decision expected any day regarding if Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (i.e. the individual insurance manadate) is constitutional.
Events and Calendar
The National Secular Calendar is on the Secular Coalition Website Homepage. The calendar will include major secular events, state chapter calls, Secular Coalition speeches, and national secular calls. If you have an event to add, or questions, please e-mail email@example.com.
Meet the Secular Coalition!
- June 10th, 2012: President Herb Silverman Speaking at AHA Conference
- June 16th, 2012: President Herb Silverman Speaking to the Humanist of Houston
- June 22nd, 2012: Executive Director Edwina Rogers Speaking at HUUmanist Annual Meeting
Upcoming Conferences and Events
- June 7 to June 10: American Humanist Association 2012 Conference
- June 14 to June 17: American Ethical Union 2012 Assembly
- June 20 to June 24: HUUmanist General Assembly Conference
- June 29 to July 1: Alabama Freethought's "Glorious Fourth" Advance
- Monday, June 11th at 3pm, 212 Cannon House Office Building. Congressman Rob Dold (R-IL)'s Legislatiev Director, David Stern. Introductory Meeting.
- Monday, June 11th at 4pm, 1201 Longworth House Office Building. Congressman Bobby Scott (D-VA)'s Legislative Director, Ilana Brunner. Thank you for his support of our position on Charitable Choice and taxpayer-funding of religiously affiliated organizations.
Legislative and regulatory update calls
We will have every other week on Tuesdays at 2pm a call featuring federal policy decision makers. Speakers will include Democratic and Republican House and Senate Staff members, Department of Defense, Education, and Health and Human Services policy officals. We expect to feature at least one decision maker per call.
First two calls will occur on Tuesday, June 12th, 2pm (EST) and Tuesday, June 26th, 2pm (EST)
These calls are open to donors and member organization staff. Current donors will recieve an invitation; if you are interested in particiapting in these calls, please donate today!
In the News
Are there any upcoming issues or events that the movement needs to coordinate press around?
Secular Coalition In the News
- 6/5/12- Secular group faces push-back from Kentucky’s unofficial state pastor, The Raw Story
- 6/5/12 - Atheist Lobbyist to Organize in Hawaii, Honolulu Civil Beat
- 6/4/12- Secular Group Plans to Open Chapter in Kentucky, WFPL - (NPR Affiliate Louisville, KY)
- 5/30/12- Secular group plans Va. atheist lobbyists by 2013, Richmond Times Dispatch
- 5/30/12- Atheist Lobbyist Group Sets Up Shop in Richmond, NBC 29 News (Charlottsville, VA)
- More at: http://secular.org/content/2012-media-coverage
Alerts, Press Releases, and Blog Posts
- Mississippi Governor on School Prayer: “It Is What We Should Continue To Do”, June 6, 2012 - Blog
- Fundamentalist Minister Attempts to Stifle Secular Voices in Kentucky, June 1, 2012- Press Releases
- Does this candidate have a prayer?, May 31, 2012 - Blog
- More at http://www.secular.org
- DOMA Ruled Unconstitutaional by Federal Appeals Court, May 31 2012- Huffington Post
Legislative and Regulatory Update
- A proposed Parental Rights Amendment to the Constitution has been introduced in both the House (H.J. Res. 110) and Senate (S.J. Res. 42). This amendment would codify that parents have the ultimate say in the “education, upbringing, and care” of their child and the government could only intervene if its “interest is of the highest order”. It would not cover a parental action or decision that would end life.
- Rep. Lowey (D-NY) introduced the Child Care Public-Private Partnership Act (H.R. 5877) which would provide grants to businesses with less than 100 employees to cover start-up costs for child care services or provide additional child care services if the business already has a service in place. We have concerns about what organizations would be eligible for the grants if they might otherwise be eligible to be religiously exempt from state child care guidelines. Chris has a call in to Rep. Lowey’s staff to get clarification.
- The Workforce Investment Act (WIA) is being marked up in the House Judiciary Committee today. Currently there are no objections to it because it maintains the employment non-discrimination provisions that previous reauthorizations have had. The amendments we are currently aware of do not address those provisions and the word from the Committee is that they do not anticipate any amendments at this time. One quote was that Republicans are “too busy fighting other battles”. Nevertheless, previous reauthorizations have attempted to dilute the language but were defeated and the Violence Against Women Act that passed the House last month did have less-protective language, so we will keep an eye on that.
- Speaking of the Violence Against Women Act, the bill still remains in limbo as there are still procedural issues between the two chambers.
- At the end of April, the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships issued guidance on the "Fundamental Principles and Policymaking Criteria for Partnerships” Executive Order. The working group’s report can be viewed here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/uploads/finalfaithbasedworkinggroupreport.pdf. We will be looking closely at this report to examine how we can be involved with the implementation of the recommendations.
- Gay Marriage: Last week’s First Circuit Court decision ruling a provision of DOMA unconstitutional also has related action in the Ninth Circuit this week, although in relation to a state proposition rather than the federal DOMA. The full Ninth Circuit refused to hear an appeal on the decision ruling California’s Prop 8 unconstitutional. Both rulings will most likely be appealed to the Supreme Court, although with the impending summer break at the end of June, the Court may not accept the cases until the fall. It should be noted that both of these cases do not address the question of whether the Constitution guarantees same-sex couples the right to marry. Both decisions are focused on the fact that the specific laws are discriminatory. Finally, Washington state has blocked a gay marriage law from taking effect as opponents of the measure filed a petition with more than 200,000 signatures seeking a public vote on the issue.
State Legislative and Regulatory Update
- Michigan- House Bill No. 5040 the Julia Ward Freedom of Conscience Act, A bill to protect the right of a student to assert conscientious objection to providing certain counseling or other services; to prohibit certain actions by institutions of higher education; and to provide remedies. Out of committee and waiting to get on the House schedule. (thank you to Matt from AHA for letting us know about this last week)
- North Carolina – HB 8190 the state's own researchers will be forced to base their predictions solely on historical climate data, rather than the acceleration of global warming that climatologists expect to occur in the coming decades.
- Virginia- SB 131, which was signed into law by the Governor on April 9, 2012, establishes a tax credit for corporations that make donations to non-profit organizations which provide scholarships to low-income students to attend private elementary or secondary schools, including religious schools.
We held 9 of our 10 state calls (with Massachusetts’s today at 2pm) and they were a big success! Thank you to our member organizations for spreading the word to your affiliate organizations.
We will be announcing the exact dates and times for our phase of initial organizing calls on this call next week. The phase 2 states are Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Montana, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Texas. Please contact Kelly Damerow with any contacts you have in our phase 2 states! (Email: Kelly@secular.org ; P: 202-299-1091 ext:204)
Here are the remaining phases of the state chapter roll out. We will be releasing the exact call dates and times for future phases approximately two weeks before the calls are scheduled to begin. The call in number is (530) 881-1400 and the participant access code is: 978895.
- Phase 2 (June 25- July 13) - Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Montana, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas
- Phase 3 (July 16- August 3) - Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Washington
- Phase 4 (August 6- 17) - Alaska, Delaware, District of Columbia, Idaho, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Wisconsin
- Phase 5 (August 20-31) - Indiana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Puerto Rico, West Virginia, Wyoming
For more information on the 50 State program, as well when we will be holding a call for your state and to sign up to be notified of calls in your state, please visit our website.
Policy and Research Documents
- Powerpoints are now available on the website. This speech will be free and available to everyone in the movement. Others will be coming soon!
- The Secular Coalition is looking for helpful research papers, to link to from our website and to determine where additional research needs to be done. If you are aware of any, please send information to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Coalition expansion drive underway! We are looking to add Endorsing and Allied organizations through additional website sign up opportunities and meetings. Please recommend any non-movement groups we should meet with to discuss common ground.
Member Organization Announcements
|Edwina Rogers, Executive Director
P: 202-299-1091 ext. 207
|Eliza Kashinsky, Chief of Staff
P: 202-299-1091 ext. 201
|Kelly Damerow, Research and Advocacy Manager
|Chris Lombardi, Government Relations Manager
P: 202-299-1091 ext. 203
|Secular Coalition for America
1012 14th St. NW, Suite 205
Washington, DC 20005
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