National Secular Movement Update Call: Election Day Yields Positive Results of Nontheists

Thursday, November 8, 2012 - 12:00 - 12:30
Call In Details: 
Phone Number: 559-726-1300 Code: 199568
National Secular Movement Update
Newsletter and Call
Call Every Thursday from 12PM - 12:30PM (ET)
Phone Number: 559-726-1300 Code: 199568


November 8, 2012 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012 was a big day for the country and for secularists in general. President Obama was reelected for a second term.  In Florida, Amendment 8, which would have allowed for taxpayer funding of religion was voted down. Same-sex marriage was approved in Maryland and Maine, and possibly Washington state-- the first time same-sex marriae was approved by popular vote. An initiative to ban same-sex marriage was defeated in Minnesota. Sadly, the only open nontheist in Congress, Pete Stark of California lost his bid for reelection. However, Kyrsten Sinema, a nontheist was elected by a narrow margin in to the House in Arizona. Additionally, Tammy Baldwin  was elected to the Senate in Wisconsin, she is the first openly gate Senator and does not list a religious affiliation.  

Nones voted for Obama by a margin of 70-26. Obama won more than half of those who seldom or never attend religious services, and a full 70 percent of the religiously unaffiliated, according to CNN's exit polls.  According to the Religious Right Exit Polling the religious right represented 27 percent of the electorate on Tuesday, up from 23 percent in the last election cycle. They voted for Romney by a margin of 78-22 and accounted for 80 percent of the increase in Republican votes. The market was down Wednesday over 300 as it tried to digest the election results. 

Table of Contents:
I. White House and Congressional Update
II. Secular Events and Calendar
III. Secular Movement in the News
IV. Legislative and Regulatory Update
V. Judicial
VI. SCA State Chapters
VII. Policy and Research Documents
VIII. Secular Coalition Expansion
IX. SCA Member Organization Announcements

Please join our movement today! Follow this link to the SCA sign-up page.

I. White House and Congressional Update

  • House of Representatives: The House is scheduled to return on Tuesday, November 13. Speaker of the House, John Boehner, is hosting a press conference today to discuss tax reform with a focus on the top two rates. 
  • Senate: The Senate will also reconvene on November 13. Behind the scenes, the Senate is working on the Tester Sportsman Act to address steroid use in professional sports. Next week they will turn to either a cyber bill or the Mendez Housing Bill. In 2013, 13 Republican and 20 Democratic Senate seats are up for reelection. 
  • White House:  The President returned to the White House from Illinois on Wednesday afternoon. President Obama Wednesday announced that he would propose a carbon tax to reduce the deficit. 
  • UN: On Oct. 26, two representatives from the secular community -- Matt Cherry of the International Humanist and Ethical Union and myself -- had the chance to meet privately with the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Heiner Bielefeldt. For those unaware, Bielefeldt is essentially the UN's watchdog on abuses of the rights to freedom of religion and belief. Matt and I shared with him a report including information on global laws that restrict the rights to freedom of belief and expression, and the many cases of secular people being punished for de-converting or criticizing religion. Bielefeldt was grateful, remarking that he had never before received such a report from secular representatives at the UN, and that he would like to foster a relationship with us in order to become more informed regarding our issues. This is especially fantastic news because Bielefeldt's annual reports are largely based on information passed to him by NGOs, and he has ability to bring attention to cases and issues we are concerned about. We will let you know when our report is ready for release and keep you updated as things move forward.  Anyone who would like to suggest questions or remarks for these meetings can email mdedora@centerforinquiry.net. More information on the Committee and all its events can be found at http://unforb.wordpress.com/ (Thank you to Michael DeDora for this update, mdedora@centerforinquiry.net, 646.706.6080)

II. Secular Events and Calendar
The National Secular Calendar is on the Secular Coalition Website Homepage.  The calendar includes 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 nathan@secular.org

Meet the Secular Coalition!

Upcoming Conferences and Events

Upcoming Meetings

  • We will be reaching out next week to finally reschedule a meeting with Senator Rubio's staff.
  • The next Legislative and Regulatory Update Call will be at 2 pm on November 20 and will feature a pollster to do a recap on the elections. 

If you are interested in attending one of these meetings, please contact chris@secular.org.

Legislative and Regulatory Update Calls
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 officials.  We expect to feature at least one decision maker per call.  

The next legislative and regulatory call will occur on Tuesday, November 20th at 2pm (EDT) and the featured speaker will be a pollster.  (No call on Election Day).  Current donors will receive an invitation; if you are interested in participating in these calls, please donate today!

III. Secular Movement In the News

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more news!

Secular Coalition in the News

Other News

Future Events
Are there any upcoming issues or events that the movement needs to coordinate press around?

    • Carl Sagan Day (November 9th) Carl Sagan was an agnostic. He waws an stronomy professor, Pulitzer Prize winning author and creator of the Emmjy and Peabody award-winning PBS television series, COSMOS.
    • Monday November 12 is Veterans Day, please honor your veterans.
    • Mark Twain's Birthday (November 30)

IV. Legislative and Regulatory Update
Federal
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  • Tuesday’s elections brought about several interesting changes to the makeup of the House and Senate. Most notably, Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA), the first openly nontheist Member of Congress was defeated. However, Kyrsten Sinema was elected by a narrow margin in to the House in Arizona. She is openly nontheist and has worked with the Secular Coalition for Arizona in the past.
  • The Senate also has a couple of new faces that we look forward to working with. Senator-elect Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) does not list a religious affiliation (she currently serves in the House). Senator-elect Tim Kaine (D-VA), while being a devout Catholic, is a strong proponent of church-state separation.
  • The defeat of Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) and Senate candidate Richard Mourdock (R-IN), candidates who used their faith to justify their positions, helps illustrate the uneasiness many voters have with policies that are not based on reason. Recent polls from Catholics for Choice and the Public Religion Research Institute also bear out this trend.
  • With the impending arrival of new Members of the House and Senate, we are exploring opportunities to put together a welcome packet for distribution at their orientation. 
  • The staff is preparing to be part of the discussions regarding fundamental tax reform. We plan to educate lawmakers on secular tax priorities and to curb religious privileging, with the next Congress.
  • A reminder to vote for secular values was sent on Monday to our full list of supporters.
V. Judicial
  • IL statute that imposes greater penalties for damage to church property upheld.  An Illinois appellate court upheld against an Establishment Clause challenge an Illinois law that makes damage to property of a place of worship a greater offense than damage to other property.  It also applied to school and agricultural property.  The court held that the legislature had a secular purpose in focusing on property in need of enhanced protection.
  • Suit filed challenging NC war memorial.  A federal lawsuit has been filed against the city of King, North Carolina, alleging that flying a Christian flag over a veterans' memorial in a city park violates the Establishment Clause.   According to the complaint, after its lawyer warned that its conduct was unconstitutional, the city purported to remove the flag; but it immediately established a supposed “limited public forum” for outside groups to fly a flag at the memorial.  Since then, the flag has flown at the memorial all but a few weeks of every year.  In addition, the memorial includes a statue of a soldier kneeling before a cross. If you have any additions, questions or submissions for inclusion on the judicial section for next week, contact Bill Burgess, BBurgess@americanhumanist.org, 202-238-9088
VI. SCA State Chapters
State Legislative and Regulatory Update
     As of Monday, same-sex marriage was legal in 6 states: New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, and New Hampshire; and DC 3 states have neither legalized same-sex marriage nor banned it: New Jersey, New Mexico and Rhode Island. But that changed on Tuesday with four ballot measures in MD, ME, MO and WA.

Maryland Question 6

Maryland became the first state to approve same-sex marriage via popular vote as Question 6 passed on Tuesday. Same-sex couples will be able to obtain a civil marriage license in the state beginning January 1, 2013. The measure won with 52% of state voters approving.

Maine Question 1
Following on Maryland's heels, just minutes later, Maine approved Question 1, a measure to overturn a voter-approved 2009 ballot measure that banned same-sex marriage in the state.

Washington Measure 74
Washington state is all but certain to approve  a Referendum 74, which would approve same-sex marriage in the state. Votes are still being counted.

Florida Amendment 8 
Florida's Amendment 8 on the ballot on Tuesday failed. The Amendment would have eliminated the Florida Constitution's No-Aid Provision (sometimes called the Blaine Amendment), which prevents public funds from being used “directly or indirectly in aid of any church, sect, or religious denomination or in aid of any sectarian institution.”

Minnesota Amendment 1

In Minnesota voters rejected a measure that would have banned same-sex marriage.

            

Conference Calls

  • Starting in the new year we will be rearranging the conference call schedule and employing online technologies to better facilitate chapter development and provide more flexibility to accommodate everyone’s schedule.
  • We will continue with the current conference call schedule through 2012. To join in, call in to 530-881-1400 and enter the participant code 978895 on your state’s scheduled date and time. Please spread the word about your state’s next conference call!
  • This weeks' state chapter calls: 
    • Thursday Nov. 8
      • Maine 1 pm
      • New Jersey, 2 pm 
      • Illinois, 3 pm 
      • Idaho, 4 pm 
    • Monday Nov. 12
      • Vermont, 11 an
      • South Dakota, 3 pm 
      • North Dakota, 4 pm
    • Tuesday, Nov. 13 
      • DC, 1 pm 
      • Maryland, 2 pm 
      • Delaware, 3 pm 
      • Oregon, 4 pm 
    • Wednesday, Nov. 14
      • Oklahoma, 1 pm 
      • Wisconsin, 2pm 
      • Louisiana, 3 pm 
      • Nevada, 4 pm
    • Thursday, Nov. 15
      • West Virginia, 1 pm 
      • Ohio, 2 pm 
      • Kansas, 3 pm 
      • Iowa, 4 pm
  • Agendas for the calls will be posted to each state’s page on secular.org a few days before the call and a replay of the call will be posted a few days after.
  • We encourage everyone to “like” the Facebook pages of their state chapter, listed as “Secular Coalition for [State].
  • Get the latest updates and sign up to receive emails about the chapter forming in your state on the state chapters page on our website. Contact Kelly Damerow, our Research and Advocacy manager, at Kelly@secular.org or by phone 202-299-1091 ext. 204.

VII. Policy and Research Documents
Today's policy research papers are from the Center for Inquiry. We will  hear from Michael DeDora for this update, mdedora@centerforinquiry.net, 646.706.6080.

All position papers can be found here: http://centerforinquiry.net/opp/opp_work/category/positions/

Reminder: The Open Access on-line Research Library at the Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society & Culture, Trinity College, Hartford, CT is available to everyone in the movement. Go to www.secularisminstitute.org. This is the academic website for ISSSC.  From there you can access (top right) all the reports and materials on the American Religious Identification Survey series since 1990. (Barry Kosmin, barry.kosmin@trincoll.edu)
Powerpoints are now available on the website.  These speeches will be free and available to everyone in the movement. 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 kelly@secular.org

VIII. Secular Coalition Expansion

  • 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. 
  • We had 34 endorsing organizations in May; we now have 95. Our newest endorsing organizations are:
    • Compass 120 Apparel, LLC
    • Concord Area Humanists
    • Mountain State Freethinkers
    • San Diego Coalition of Reason
IX. SCA Member Organization Announcements

To sign up for newsletters, call announcements, and action alerts, please visit our website.

Contact Executive Director, Edwina Rogers, at Edwina@secular.org or by phone at 202-299-101 ext. 207 or cell: 202-674-7800.

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