NCJW Forum Encouraging Voters to Vote No on Amendments 6 and 8 attracts 150 attendees
September 10, 2012, Fort Lauderdale, FL – As part of the National Council of Jewish Women’s signature initiative Promote the Vote, Protect the Vote, NCJW is mobilizing Jewish women in Florida to educate their communities against frightening ballot initiatives that threaten religious liberty and women’s access to health care. NCJW leaders hosted a voter education forum yesterday in South Florida, educating more than 150 people on the importance of defeating Florida Constitutional Amendments 6 and 8 in November and mobilizing them to educate others.
Amendment 6 would allow the government to interfere in a woman’s personal health care decisions. Amendment 8 would change the religious freedom clause in the Florida constitution and repeal the state’s ban of public funding for religious institutions, also known as the “Blaine Amendment.”
“Those of us who have fought tirelessly to secure the right for women to make personal decisions about their own health, and for tax dollars to remain in the public sphere rather than be diverted to religious programs and institutions are outraged by the way these ballot amendments would allow such serious issues to be co-opted by religious and political leaders who seek to legislate one particular faith viewpoint,” said Jill Swartz, NCJW Florida State Policy Advocate. “People of faith should not be fooled by the false rhetoric of religious freedom purported by advocates who support Amendments 6 and 8.”
This event launched an intensive campaign by the NCJW South Florida sections to educate voters and urge opposition to Amendments 6 and 8 leading up to the November election, and this and other Promote the Vote, Protect the Vote efforts in Florida have received funding from the Jewish Social Justice Roundtable as part of their civic engagement program. NCJW opposes Amendment 6 and any constitutional amendment that would allow politicians to interfere with a woman’s access to quality reproductive health care.
NCJW also believes that religious liberty and the separation of religion and state are Constitutional principles that must be protected and preserved in order to maintain our democratic society. As such, NCJW opposes Amendment 8, which would open the way for unrestricted use of state public funds for religious organizations.
Between now and Election Day, NCJW will coordinate various activities throughout south Florida. In addition to the voter education forum this past weekend, the organization’s volunteers will distribute voter palm cards throughout south Florida.
As a part of yesterday’s event Florida State Senator Nan Rich offered the keynote address highlighting the importance of civic engagement, grassroots efforts, and getting out the vote. Other featured speakers included Lillian Tamayo, CEO of Planned Parenthood of South Florida; Howard Simon, executive director of ACLU of FL; David Barkey, ADL Southern Area Civil Rights Counsel; and Maggie Garrett, Legislative Director for Americans United for Separation of Church and State. Ms. Tamayo spoke on Amendment 6 while Mr. Simon, Mr. Barkey and Ms. Garret held a panel discussion on Amendment 8.
Senator Rich, who also served as President of NCJW from 1996-1999, said, “In Florida, we know that every vote really can affect the outcome of an election. But this year, it’s even more important for every single person to get out and vote. With proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot this November that could erode the separation of religion and state in Florida, and undermine women’s rights to make their own health care decisions, the stakes are just too high to stay home on Election Day.”
Lillian Tamayo, campaign co-chair for Vote No on 6 explained how Amendment 6 would allow political interference in the most personal of decisions. “It is not for politicians like Rick Scott to decide what should or should not be covered by someone’s health plan, or to take coverage away from people who already have it today,” Tamayo said. “Would you want Rick Scott in the exam room with you?” Tamayo asked the audience at Sunday’s forum. “No!” the audience answered back.
Dr. Howard Simon, executive director of ACLU of Florida addressed issues with Amendment 8. “Constitutional Amendment 8 has been constructed on a foundation of deception. Its authors call it ‘religious freedom,’ but it is really designed to allow government funding for religious schools and religious programs. Proponents claim that it will end religious discrimination, but in reality the constitutional prohibition on taxpayer funding for religion is not religious discrimination. It is the oldest American principle of separation of church and state.”
NCJW’s coalition partners on the Vote NO on Amendments 6 & 8 Campaign include Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Anti-Defamation League, League of Women Voters of Florida, Union for Reform Judaism and Hadassah.
To learn more about the NCJW South Florida Coalition Vote NO on 6 and 8 Campaign, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) is a grassroots organization of volunteers and advocates who turn progressive ideals into action. Inspired by Jewish values, NCJW strives for social justice by improving the quality of life for women, children, and families and by safeguarding individual rights and freedoms.
Contact: Brianne Nadeau