By Judy Traub, past NCJW Florida State Policy Advocacy Chair
JUST VOTE NO! That was the message received by more than 150 of us who attended a training and education forum convened by the NCJW South Florida (SoFL) coalition on Sunday, September 9 in Deerfield Beach, FL.
IT WAS A FIRST. A joint effort supported by all 11 NCJW Sections in South Florida. NCJW members, as well as members of coalition partners, came together to learn about two proposed amendments to the Florida Constitution which will be on the ballot in November: Amendment 6 would have politicians making health care decisions for women that should be made by the patient, in consultation with her family and her doctor, and with the guidance of her faith; Amendment 8 would permit the use of public dollars for religious schools and institutions.
The keynote speaker was State Senator (and former NCJW National President)and Senate Minority Leader Nan Rich, who spoke of the extremely conservative makeup of the Florida State Legislature, which in the previous two legislative sessions introduced and spent time on 18 anti-abortion bills, a prayer in school bill, and other conservative agenda items. She pointed out that all the amendments on the ballot have been proposed by the ultra-conservative legislature, and all deserve to be defeated. Her message: JUST VOTE NO.
The dangers of Amendment 6, and its ramifications if passed, were explained by Lillyan Tamayo, CEO of Planned Parenthood of South Florida and the Treasure Coast. She explained how Amendment 6 would allow political interference in the most personal of health decisions. “Would you want Governor Rick Scott in the exam room with you?” she asked.
Clarifying Amendment 8 were Maggie Garrett, Legislative Director for Americans United for the Separation of Church and State; Howard Simon, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union; and David Barkey, Southern Area Civil Rights Counsel of the Anti-Defamation League. Amendment 8 is titled Religious Freedom Act but that title is disingenuous and totally misleading. It is not about religious freedom but about money, state money for religious institutions — religious institutions that discriminate in their hiring practices, that deny health care coverage to employees, and that proselytize.
Florida’s NCJW Sections want everyone to understand what these deceptively titled amendments do, and are taking action to get the word out — JUST VOTE NO.
PALM CARDS tell the story. One side has information on Amendment 6 and the organizations that are partnering with us to defeat it: The League of Women Voters, the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, and Hadassah. The other side has information on Amendment 8 and the organizations that are partnering with us to defeat it: the Anti-Defamation League, the Union for Reform Judaism, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, and the American Civil Liberties Union. STRONG PARTNERS that will help us get the word out. And get the word out we will at special events in each section on September 30 right through to November 6.
NCJW IS ALL FIRED UP! We are “on the map” as never before, and we are engaging our members and the public alike in our efforts to have voters JUST SAY NO.