What. A. Week. Special AP(eye) Report

Published: Friday, June 28th, 2013

From: Miriam Yeung, National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum

Dear Friends,

Wow. What a week. If this week were last week’s episode of Glee, I think this is what the summary would sound like:

The Supreme Court said diversity was still a good thing in college. They also said that marriages could be gay in California and that Uncle Sam has to get with that and that you can’t patent DNA. Some fierce lady named Wendy in Texas stood up in pink sneakers for 13 hours and stopped an anti-abortion bill in its tracks. Workers in NYC can get paid sick days now. And, the US Senate passed a comprehensive immigration bill, but only after adding on gazillions of guns and a long fence. The Supremes also made it easier for you to get harassed at work, took away Native American rights, made the cops swab the inside of your cheek and they killed Martin Luther King, Jr. Just kidding, but they did gut the Voting Rights Act. Sam rolled his eyes at Ruth, probably because she can do more pushups than him. Oh, and the Trayvon Martin case is on and the killer’s lawyer started off by telling a knock-knock joke.

And that’s what you’ve missed. Read on below for the full scoop.

All glibness aside though, this has been a tremendous week of whiplash for all of us as progressive AAPIs who care about social justice and human rights. My big lesson from all this is the simple truth we’ve always known at NAPAWF – that organizing on the local and state levels matter. It matters now more than ever. From coming out around your kitchen table, to calling legislators, to shouting at state houses, the time for us to be seen and heard is now. We can’t win without being in the streets. We can’t defend progress without being in the streets. And, this Sunday, the streets are exactly where I will be with my partner and our two daughters— to celebrate, to recommit, and to be in community. Happy Pride everyone. Let’s keep up the good fight.

In Sisterhood,

monday, june 24, 2013

Affirmative Action Upheld, Schools Held to High Bar

In a 7-1 decision, the Supreme Court sent Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin back to the lower court to review whether UT-Austin’s consideration of race was necessary. Although the Court vacated a decision on the Fisher case, it made clear that universities and colleges should be prepared to articulate a compelling basis for affirmative action policies and must vigorously defend the means used to achieve the goal of a diverse student body.

Many Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) students face serious challenges to accessing educational opportunities. Admission policies that carefully consider racial and ethnic diversity as one of many individualized factors create a more level playing field for all students. According to opinion data from the National Asian American Survey, AAPIs overwhelming support affirmative action programs.

Supremes Stomp on Workers’ Rights

The Court’s 5-4 decision in Vance v. Ball State University just made it significantly easier for bosses to racially or sexually harass employees and get away with it. Though the law provides fairly robust protection to workers harassed by their supervisor, the Court defined the term “supervisor” narrowly. According to the Court, your boss is now only your supervisor if they have the power to make a “significant change in [your] employment status, such as hiring, firing, failing to promote, reassignment with significantly different responsibilities, or a decision causing a significant change in benefits.” At oral argument, dissenting Justice Elena Kagan gave the example of a secretary whose boss “subjects that secretary to living hell, complete hostile work environment on the basis of sex.” Under this decision, the secretary has no recourse.

tuesday, june 25, 2013

Don’t Mess With Women! Wendy Davis Takes Down Extreme Texas Abortion Ban

On Tuesday, Texas Senator Wendy Davis made us proud when she stood up for 13 hours in sassy pink sneakers to stop an anti-abortion bill in its tracks. She successfully filibustered a bill that would have closed all but five of 42 abortion clinics in Texas. I would have also banned abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, without exceptions for victims of rape or incest because—as the bill’s sponsor reasoned— “In the emergency room, they have what’s called rape kits, where a woman can get cleaned out.” Texas has the third largest AAPI community in the country and passage of such a bill would have significantly affected AAPI women and girls.

Despite this win for women, Governor Rick Perry is shamelessly determined to pass the extreme anti-choice measure and has called another special session to consider it.

Voting Rights Act Gutted. Texas Takes Advantage.

The Court struck down Section IV of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) in Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder. The VRA protected citizens in counties that have a history of voter suppression. The decision frees 9 states and various counties from the requirement that the federal government must approve changes to state election law. Although the Justice Department still maintains the right to approve voting-rights laws in counties that have historically implemented discriminatory laws against minorities, Congress will need to enact a new formula to determine whom those counties are before the Justice Department can proceed.

Soon after the decision, Texas moved forward to immediately enact a voter ID law that a panel of federal judges ruled last year would impose “strict, unforgiving burdens on the poor.”

The law requires voters to show certain types of ID in order to vote—a measure that was blocked by the Justice Department, and called a “poll tax” by Attorney General Eric Holder. Voter ID requirements disproportionately affect women of color and immigrant communities. Furthermore, 78 percent of AAPIs who did not vote in the 2008 election said it was because they did not have an accepted form of ID.

Court Rules against Native American Parental Rights

In a 5-4 decision in Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, the Supreme Court ruled that a child of Native American ancestry could legally reside with her non-Native American adoptive parents over the objections of her biological father. The court decided that the child’s biological father, Dusten Brown, had relinquished his custodial rights at the time of her birth and that as a result, the 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act does not apply in this case. This decision overturns an earlier ruling from the South Carolina Supreme Court. According to records of the case, the child, was adopted at birth by a non-Native American couple. However, four months after Veronica’s birth, Brown wanted to be reunited with his child.

wednesday, june 26, 2013

Defense of Marriage Act Struck Down

Wednesday was a historic day for LGBT equality, and we’re still celebrating! In a landmark ruling, the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in United States v. Windsor. DOMA held that marriage was solely between a man and a woman and prevented same-sex couples whose marriages were recognized by their home state from receiving the hundreds of benefits available to other married couples under federal law.  This decision means that same-sex couples who are legally married must have their marriages recognized by the federal government.

Unfortunately, the controversial Section 2 of DOMA, which declared that states and territories of the United States have the right to deny recognition of same-sex marriages that originated in other states, still stands.

The same day, the Court dismissed Hollingsworth v. Perry,  clearing the way for same-sex marriages in California to resume. In a 5-4 opinion, the Court did not rule on the merits of the case but held that the traditional marriage activists who put Prop 8 on California ballots in 2008 lacked the constitutional authority, or standing, to defend the law in federal courts.

There are more than 66,000 AAPIs in California who identify as LGBTQ and more than 14,500 AAPIs who are part of same-sex couples.

thursday, june 27, 2013

The Senate Passes an Immigration Bill

In a long-awaited, historic moment for immigration policy reform, the Senate passed S.744 by a 68-32 vote. NAPAWF is pleased that the bill contains many pieces that will help immigrant women, including: a roadmap to citizenship and important workers’ rights protections, a provision that would allow deported parents to reunite with their families, protections for survivors of violence, an accelerated path to citizenship for Dreamers, and a plan to reduce the family visa backlog. It also includes provisions that allow spouses of those on employment visas, mostly women, to also work, and provisions that open up employment visa categories to recognize professions dominated by women. However, the bill dedicates billions in additional spending to militarize our border and includes restrictions on access to health care, both of which put the health and safety of immigrant women at risk. The ball is now in the House’s court, and we call on our representatives to make the bill better and stand on the right side of history

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