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Doreen Denny

Is It Fair Play? How Female Athletes Are Losing in the Age of Gender Identity

By | Feminist / Women's Issues, Marriage, News and Events, Sexual Exploitation | No Comments

I’m the mother of two athletes, a son who currently plays college baseball and a daughter who was captain of her volleyball team and on elite club teams. Today, my daughter’s leadership, work ethic, and resiliency from sports is translating in her college endeavors, including Army ROTC.

Doors of opportunity open for female athletes through sports. But in today’s age of gender identity, this could all radically change.

Senator Birch Bayh was a Democratic Senator from Indiana who spearheaded the Title IX amendment that banned discrimination against women in college sports. Obituaries from his passing on March 14, 2019 hailed him as the “father of Title IX.”

The senator’s crowning legacy achievement will go to the grave with him if his own party has its way in passing the Equality Act…

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Click here to read the rest of this column as featured in Townhall.com

Congressional Hearings on the So-Called “Equality Act” Expose True Threats to Women and Girls

By | Blog, News and Events, Sexual Exploitation | No Comments

Congress is debating the “Equality Act,” a top-ten priority of Speaker Pelosi (D-California) and House Democrats.  It would enshrine “gender identity” as a protected trait in federal civil rights law.  This denies the biological, scientific fact that being male or female is inscribed in our DNA and determines our sex.  Self-declared “gender identity” would be sufficient to claim protected legal status as either sex.  Simply put, “Whatever I claim to be, I am.”  Such claims could be fluid, because gender-related identity and characteristics could be changed at any time.

CWA recently received a call from a public-school mom in Georgia whose daughter faced a transgender in track competition who won uncontested.  Her concerns were dismissed by the National Organization for Women and the Women’s Sport’s Foundation when she called them thinking they would be fighting for women’s rights.  Not so.  Thankfully she found us.  Here’s what this mom had to say in a letter submitted at the House Judiciary Committee hearing:

“To say that my daughter, as well as the other female athletes, were humiliated and had a sense of defeatism is an understatement.  In the words of my daughter, ‘What’s the point Mom, we can’t win.’  Hearing this broke my heart, for my daughter and for all the female athletes, who train so hard, but no matter how hard they work and train they will never be able to beat a biological male. … What are we doing to our girls by forcing them to race biological males?”

At the hearing, Congressman Gaetz (R-Florida) asked, “If President Trump were to say, ‘I am now the first female president,’ who would celebrate that? Would those who support this legislation think that’s a good thing?”

Advocates have no response to the legitimacy of that question.  More importantly, they are denying the threat of this policy to women and girls.  I was in the hearing room and, frankly, was shocked to hear how women, who are 51% of the U.S. population, are now an afterthought for those promoting the trans agenda.  They are not fighting for females anymore.

In 2016, Sports Illustrated showcased female candidates who were college athletes, including Illinois Congresswoman Cheri Bustos, and New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, both cosponsors of the Equality Act.  They said how playing competitive sports prepared, and propelled, them into politics.  “It took the fear out of losing,” said Gillibrand, now a presidential candidate.

The testimonies in this article make the case that reducing opportunities for female college athletes could reduce the number of women running for office.  Is that what Democrats want?

Supporters have no way of defending the Equality Act against these threats to women and girls, even though basic common sense makes it obvious to most people.  Many proponents have blindly jumped on the bandwagon – it’s time they consider the impact.  Women will lose, which is why we need you to get active and oppose the Equality Act.

Contact your congressman and senator today, and tell them to oppose the (In)Equality Act!

New House Minority Flexes Muscle on Abortion Threat

By | Blog, News and Events, Sanctity of Life | No Comments

As soon as members were sworn in and Nancy Pelosi was handed the speaker’s gavel, the battle to protect life in the 116th Congress was underway on the floor of the U.S. Houses of Representatives.   The new Democrat majority’s first legislative move to “end the government shutdown” also contains provisions to advance pro-abortion policies overseas.   Pelosi’s Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2019 undermines a signature prolife initiative of the Trump Administration, the Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance policy (formerly known as the Mexico City policy) which prohibits American taxpayer funds from being used by nongovernmental organizations to perform or promote abortion abroad.   The Democrat bill also proposes to expand aid to the United Nations Population Fund which notoriously stands by China’s policy of coerced abortions.

Spurred on by Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee and partner prolife groups who promised to score against the bill, Republicans flexed their minority muscle and stood in strong opposition.   Taking to the House floor under the leadership of incoming Appropriations committee ranking member, Kay Granger (R-Texas), prolife members chastised Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats for pushing a pro-abortion agenda on the American people from Day One.   Pro-life Caucus chairman Chris Smith (R-New Jersey), and Values Action Team chairwoman Vicky Hartzler (R-Missouri) were among those exposing the Democrat’s tactics.  Rep. Granger offered a Motion to Recommit with instructions to strike the pro-abortion policy provisions from the bill.  Along with impassioned floor speeches, the Motion to Recommit is among the minority party’s best tools to amend legislation and contrast the views of members.  Democrats Dan Lipinski (Ohio) and Collin Peterson (Minnesota), the only prolife Democrats in the House, voted with the Republicans on Rep. Granger’s motion.

As will be the case in the new Congress, House Democrats will prevail in passing legislation that will break the hearts of the prolife community, as they did on final passage of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2019.  But in flexing its muscle on the House floor, the new Republican minority set the stage for Senate debate, where a new class of prolife Senators were sworn in this week, and the Pelosi bill is expected to be dead on arrival.

Even with congressional threats to prolife policy, we can still take productive administrative action through rulemaking.  Currently the Trump administration is working to add crucial integrity measures to the enforcement of Obamacare to require transparency in abortion coverage.  The Department of Health and Human Services has submitted a rule for public comment that would require insurance providers to collect a separate payment for abortion coverage.  This is the best interpretation of the law which specifies a separate payment must be collected. The Obama administration did not accurately interpret or enforce this law, and taxpayer funds for healthcare are being co-mingled with abortion coverage.  We need your support for this rule to be put in place. Click here to submit your public comment before the deadline on Tuesday, January 8, at 5:00 p.m. EST.  Tell the Trump Administration you don’t want taxpayer funds covering elective abortion!

Legislative Update: Congress Punts on Full Transparency for Sexual Harassment Claims

By | Blog, News and Events | No Comments

You know it’s a lame duck Congress when action on bills that members have been trying to avoid but have no excuse left not to deal with finally get passed.  Then they hold a press conference and pat themselves on the back. I admit such cynicism might not be welcome during the Christmas season, so let’s give some credit to a Congress that managed to enact something so bipartisan that no roll call vote was necessary.  The departing 115thCongress can now breathe a sigh of relief for having dealt with updating their procedures for handling workplace sexual harassment issues on their own turf in the #MeToo era.

Earlier this year, Concerned Women for America mailed thousands of petitions to Capitol Hill, asking leaders to step up and hold members accountable who had settled harassment claims in secret using a federal “hush fund” paid for by the American taxpayer. Constituents were kept in the dark about such claims, and cases were settled behind closed doors.  The fact that elected officials and senior staffers were engaging in such conduct — with at least $15 million paid out over 20 years — rightfully raised alarm bells and discredited prevailing congressional accountability rules as outdated and ineffective.

For example, the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 imposed an artificial cooling off period requiring a victim (usually subordinate congressional staffer) to wait 30 days from the time of reporting conduct before deciding to press a case.  This requirement reinforced the all-too-common problem of victims being held to a higher standard of believability than perpetrators.  The compromise bill scraps this cooling off requirement, so due process can begin earlier for victims of workplace harassment.  In addition, the compromise requires that a member of Congress reimburse the government for any settlement using the congressional hush fund and requires that an annual report be made public identifying the amounts disbursed from the fund, the types of harassment claims, and the employing offices involved.

Steps in the right direction certainly, but by no means sufficient to address the scandals that have plagued an institution of public trust and demand a full accounting.  For one, nothing in the bill requires reimbursement to the Treasury of the $15-plus million in taxpayer money spent to settle previous claims.  Nothing is done to bring transparency to previous cases, including who committed the harassment and how much money was involved.  Only some light will shine on future cases because nothing in the bill requires naming the perpetrator, only the “employing office.”  House and Senate committees could ask for more transparency in the rules they write to implement the bill, but only if they have the will power to do so.   Finally, nothing in the bill speaks to nondisclosure agreements as at least one other proposal has.  All too often, such agreements become the means by which aggressive defense attorneys shield perpetrators and leave victims with no leverage to seek justice.

In bidding farewell to the 115thCongress, it is fair to say that members managed to make an eleventh-hour compromise to get their house more in order in the #MeToo era. It is now incumbent on a new Congress to build on this measured progress to ensure full transparency and accountability for past indiscretions as well as future cases of sexual harassment in its workplace.  Full disclosure just might be the greatest deterrent.

New Transparency Rule Proposed for Obamacare Abortion Surcharge

By | Blog, News and Events | No Comments

Last month, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a proposed rule aimed at increasing transparency surrounding the hidden abortion surcharge in many Affordable Care Act (ACA) plans purchased on the state and federal exchanges. The rule has a 60-day comment period and will close on January 8, 2019, at 5:00 p.m. EST. This rule contains two other measures, but we are only concerned with this particular part of the rule.

We need your help to submit comments supporting this transparency rule. Please visit ConcernedWomen.Org/ObamacareTransparencytoday to learn more, read a sample comment, and submit your comment to the Department of Health and Human Services!

Section 1303 of the ACA requires insurance companies to keep abortion-related services separate from the rest of healthcare funds. Abortion-related services are to be collected via a separate payment and kept in a separate fund — at least $1 per enrollee, per month.  When the law was passed, President Obama issued guidance saying “separate” payments could be collected “together” and then failed to enforce the law as written.  This means that taxpayer dollars, through subsidies and cost-sharing reduction payments, are currently co-mingled with funds that pay for elective abortions.

Although Congress will have to intervene and permanently fix the problem of taxpayer dollars co-mingling with abortion funds, HHS can do its part by enforcing the law. The proposed rule better aligns with the letter of the law and requires that the abortion surcharge be collected separately from insurance premiums.

The proposed rule says that qualified health insurance providers must send an “entirely separate monthly bill” and “instruct the policy subscriber to pay the portion of the premium in a separate transaction.” This means separate bills must be mailed or transacted online in entirely separate emails. The proposed rule is the best interpretation and intent of the law and will incorporate a necessary transparency measure that will not only ideally separate taxpayer dollars from elective abortions but will allow policyholders to see that they have been forced to subsidize abortion whether they want to or not.

The transparency rule is not a done deal. HHS must review and consider public comments before issuing a final ruling.  New rules will apply to insurance plans from the year 2020 forward. It is crucial that HHS upholds the law and carries out this transparency rule. Please visit ConcernedWomen.org/ObamacareTransparencytoday for a sample comment and more information on how to make a difference.

Reflections on 41: Three Things I Learned from President George H.W. Bush

By | News and Events | No Comments

I joined the George H.W. Bush White House as a twenty-something presidential management intern after completing my Ivy League master’s degree in public policy. Becoming deputy associate director of education policy for the Office of Economic and Domestic Policy was a dream job. I could never have imagined stepping into an office in the Old Executive Office Building and calling it my own when starting graduate school. Having been invited to serve the man who occupied the Oval Office and declared his intention to be the Education President made it all the more meaningful. As all can attest who accept such a role, the hours are long and the benefits are priceless. Being in the center of the national conversation and influencing the direction of national policy is a heady experience. But that is where the character of the president we honor this week offered lasting life lessons for me.

First, prudence is a virtue. My generation will recall the Saturday Night Live comedy skits Dana Carvey mastered of our 41st president – the hand gestures and phrases that Carvey may have repeated more than the actual president became part of President Bush’s lasting persona. Especially the phrase “wouldn’t be prudent.” I heard this line enough out of George H.W. Bush’s mouth that it would have stuck either way. And I couldn’t help but reflect on what he was conveying. For a young woman new to politics, it spoke volumes. There are situations which tempt an expedited response, but a pause to reflect and a measured approach might result in a better solution or outcome in the long run. Prudence was a guideline to govern the decision-making process. Prudence might lead to results that aren’t always optimal or politically expedient, but generally never regretful.

Second, kindness counts. President Bush admits he was never good at the “vision thing.” But from the moment he took the oath of office, he cast a vision of a “kinder, gentler nation” that guided his presidency. It was this principle that inspired his“Thousand Points of Light” to recognize the organizations in our communities who reach others with kindness and compassion. Literally, one such organization a day was highlighted throughout his presidency from the moment of inception! We staffers would get the press releases and be reminded every day of the virtue of serving others. President Bush’s personal letters were another way he showed kindness. He was a man of the written word, whose heart was not easily expressed vocally, but bled all over the page in ink. Troves of these letters are treasures for so many people and have become the basis of the only autobiography ever written.

Third, faith matters. While private in his demonstrations of religious or spiritual expression, President Bush exemplified the foundation of faith that upheld his life. He stood on solid ground and an abiding belief in God, in humanity, and in the founding principles that birthed and upheld our nation. He conveyed calm in the midst of the storm through major events of his presidency, like the Gulf War. He invited people to the table to negotiate tough issues, like the nation’s governors on education or congressional leaders over major policy pursuits like the Americans with Disabilities Act. He believed that good-faith efforts to find common ground while keeping your word can lead to breakthroughs. His integrity was not always matched by the other side, yet he never lost faith in the potential of people to do the right thing. In Washington, some may call that naïve. I call it noble.

George H.W. Bush, our 41st president, was indeed a man of honor, worthy of our every remembrance for a lifetime of service to our country. Thank you for being my first and lasting example of prudence, kindness, and faith in the midst of Washington politics.

‘Women’ taken out of ‘Violence Against Women Act’

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Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) and 176 Democrat members of Congress have sponsored a bill to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) that removes the references to women.

“Children, youths, and adults” are replacing the wording “women and children.” What to make of this? Confusion about what gender means now that “male and female” are being removed from the liberal agenda? Acquiescence to an activist, identity politics that seeks to elevate fluid gender perceptions above biological sex? It’s a travesty women would no longer be the focus of the Violence Against Women Act.

The left’s double speak around sexism seems only a matter of convenience. Think about it. Capitol Hill just endured weeks of mob protests crying out for victims of sexual abuse. The #MeToo movement is populated by women victims of sexual assault. Rep. Jackson Lee supposedly made a stand for women when she and her — dare I say female — colleagues from the House stood in protest at the Kavanaugh committee vote. As one of the “Women for Kavanaugh” sitting in front of that group of Congresswomen, I felt the animosity toward any woman not on their side — as if our voices were illegitimate.

Vulnerable women in the halls of the Hart Senate Building were fed extremist views that justice for survivors would be lost and “women would die” if Kavanaugh were on the court. Manipulating the pain of survivors of sexual abuse by inciting such fear is despicable and ultimately hurts women.

The Democrats’ crass tactics actually exploited women. Christine Blasey Ford was the first exploited when her confidential letter to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) was leaked to the press. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp(D-N.D.) recounted the sexual assaults of “countless North Dakotans and others close to me” in opposing Kavanaugh, then proceeded to release their names without permission in a campaign ad, before apologizing profusely, but the damage had been done.

The strident, uncorroborated slander against now-Justice Kavanaugh which screamed “a vote for Kavanaugh is a vote against women” rings hollow when considering how the liberals take the focus away from the protection of women in VAWA.

Congress must stand for women of sexual assault and domestic abuse, their privacy, safety and rights as victims first. According to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, 43.6 percent of women, nearly 52.2 million, experience some form of sexual violence in their lifetime.

Twenty one percent of women experience rape, compared to 2.6 percent of men. For all forms of violence including stalking, 25 percent of women compared to 10 percent of men. Despite decades of programs funded by VAWA and similar laws, the number of women who were raped in America rose by 3 percent between 2010 and 2015 from 18.3 percent to 21.3 percent.

If women become secondary in VAWA to advance a sexual and gender identity political agenda, how can Congress expect to turn around this trend? Before politicizing VAWA, members across the political spectrum agreed on this legislation. They should work again to strengthen the focus on justice and support for women.

First, focus support on women and girls in defining underserved populations. Stop forcing sexual orientation and gender identity language, neither of which have shown to be underserved populations in VAWA programs. These efforts take the focus away from all women.

Second, increase accountability and priority in testing rape kits through the Debbie Smith DNA backlog grant program. It is unconscionable that after fifteen years and one billion dollars spent, the rape kit backlog still hasn’t been eliminated. Every sexual assault kit represents a brave woman waiting for justice.

Third, increase penalties for and education around the barbaric practice of female genital mutilation (FGM). Believe it or not, FGM is practiced in the US today on the most vulnerable of our population: little girls.

Fourth, treat nondiscrimination a matter of civil rights for all women, not special rights for some. Including sexual orientation and gender identity terms are unnecessary to provide effective and non-discriminatory legal protection and support services to female victims of violence. Such expansion often leads to violations of the rights, privacy and safety of women.

Under current law, women who have sought refuge in a shelter to escape male abusers can be forced to live in quarters with a man who identifies as a woman. Under VAWA’s nondiscrimination provision women could not seek protection or privacy from these individuals. It’s not right that their safety and privacy is compromised.

Finally, ensure all support organizations that serve victims of abuse can participate fully, including faith-based service providers who compassionately and effectively serve victims of violence and human trafficking. No person or organization should be targeted or excluded based on sincerely held religious beliefs.

These are some of the changes that would increase women’s safety and make VAWA more effective. In short, make women the priority again.

Doreen Denny is the senior director of government relations at Concerned Women for America.


A version of this article was published by The Hill

Legislative Update: Senate Majority Continues Work to Fill the Courts

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Even while the Senate stands in recess through the November election, the Senate Judiciary Committee is at work holding hearings on judicial nominees to ready them for votes when the Senate returns. Just this week two circuit court nominees for the west-coast Ninth Circuit had hearings, adding to last week’s hearing for Allison Jones Rushing to be a circuit judge for the Fourth Circuit (more on her in a moment). Seven additional lower court judges were on the hearing docket for life-time appointments to the bench.

President Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), and Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) have not flinched in their commitment to Americans to fill federal court vacancies at all levels. Their success not only has been impressive, but historic. To date, 84 federal judges have been confirmed, including two Supreme Court justices, 29 circuit judges, and 53 district judges. This represents an all-time record for the number of circuit judges confirmed in the first two years of a presidential administration. It has happened in the face of unrelenting obstruction by the Democrats who deploy any procedural means possible to delay confirmations.

Women are notable among the list of confirmed judges. One year ago this week, Judge Amy Coney Barrett was the first woman nominated by the Trump Administration to be confirmed. Serving on the Seventh Circuit court of appeals, Barrett is also on President Trump’s short list for Supreme Court consideration. Like Barrett, Allison Jones Rushing of North Carolina is one of the rising stars nominated by the Trump Administration and positioned to take a lifetime appointment on the circuit court. Rushing, 36, clerked for Judge Gorsuch on the Tenth Circuit and Associate Justice Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court. Her professional experience in law has covered a wide range of issues involving complex civil and criminal litigation in the federal and appellate courts. She has argued cases before federal circuit and state appellate courts and been recognized by professional groups for her excellent written and oral advocacy skills.

President Trump won the presidency with conservative voters who cared about filling court vacancies with highly qualified, conservative judges committed to upholding the Constitution and not legislating from the bench. And he hasn’t disappointed. This November voters in key red states have the potential of strengthening that majority in the Senate to move these judges forward.

Chairman Grassley has scheduled the Senate Judiciary Committee’s 19th nomination hearing for the week after the election. Thirty -two judicial nominees are out of committee and ready for confirmation votes by the full Senate. As Chairman Grassley has said, “we are not tired of winning.”

Pro-life Progress in Congress Won’t Come Without a Fight

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Late last week, the House and Senate wrapped up a conference on a spending bill package for the departments of Labor, HHS, and Education, coupled with the Department of Defense (LHHS/DOD).  Conferees also agreed to add a short-term continuing resolution (CR) for remaining federal agencies to get beyond the November election without a government shutdown.  While not the same “omnibus” appropriations bill that we have seen most years, this “minibus” package covers the lion’s share of fiscal year 2019 discretionary spending across the entire federal government.  Unfortunately, in the process of negotiating differences between the House and Senate bills, all provisions that would have advanced pro-life and religious liberty policies that were in the House version were rejected as “poison pills” by conference leadership.  These “riders” included legislation for which CWALAC has been fighting: the Conscience Protection Act, defunding abortion businesses like Planned Parenthood, banning aborted fetal tissue research, and including faith-based agencies in adoption and foster care.
 
Reacting to this unfortunate denial of conservative priorities, all of which had been approved in earlier action by House appropriators, CWALAC CEO and President Penny Nance said:
 
“It is highly disappointing that the only ‘rider’ conference negotiators could make a deal on was a continuing resolution to avoid a government shutdown.  Conservative House appropriators fought the good fight for many new pro-life and conscience protection provisions that are desperately needed to prevent taxpayer funds from propping up the abortion industry year after year.   
 
“We need leaders to stand up for innocent life and stand firm to make progress.  It won’t come without the willingness to fight to the end for our principles.  If deals were made in these negotiations, then it is pretty clear who was on the losing side.  Our members want to see results, and unfortunately, once again, pro-life and conscience protection priorities were sidelined.”  
 
In further evidence of the steep climb ahead in this fight for progress, the Senate this week approved the LHHS/DOD spending package by a vote of 93-7 without a fight.  We’ll see next week if the House follows suit.   

Sen. Hirono Should Step Up for Justice

By | Blog, Legal, News and Events, SCOTUS | No Comments

As a woman and as an American,  I’m dismayed by the message Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) delivered this week telling  “men of this country and the men in this committee” to “just shut up and step up” to the allegation of sexual assault from 36 years ago against Judge Brett Kavanaugh.  Let’s be clear, these allegations are just that — allegations. They are not facts backed up by evidence, and they are unsubstantiated by eyewitnesses.  Judge Kavanaugh, under oath, has categorically denied the claims. And yet, Sen. Hirono has served as judge and jury in condemning not only Judge Kavanaugh, but all men as complicit in the process.

Make no mistake, this is a form of sexism of an insidious nature.  In her rush to condemn, Sen. Hirono is exploiting the sexes, advocating a culture that favors, without questions, the accuser over the accused (even when wrongly accused). Her misguided view lacks any standard of justice.  She is making a mockery of the judicial system and the oath she took to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States that expresslyprotects due process.

We should fear for our children — girls and boys — and the message this sends.  What exactly is the purpose of Sen. Hirono asking men to “shut up and step up”?  Truth?  Justice?  Hardly. Ironically, truth is exactly what the 11 Republican “old white men” on the Senate Judiciary Committee are trying to seek.  Since learning of these 11thhour allegations against Brett Kavanaugh, which Sen. Hirono’s own colleague, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California), concealed for months, the Senate Judiciary Committee has set out to investigate these claims, as is their obligation under Senate rules.  Chairman Chuck Grassley has offered any way possible for this accuser, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, to be interviewed and/or to testify in public or private.  This offer has so far gone unaccepted (but he continues graciously to maintain the offer open).

Senate Democrats are looking more and more complicit in colluding with her handlers to set the terms and conditions under which her testimony might be heard to further their ultimate objective of delaying the nomination until after the election and ultimately derailing it altogether.

Make no mistake, too many women have faced sexual assault without the confidence of due process to come forward. But Sen. Hirono’s rant, essentially condemning the male race as abusers first, disregards the very standards of justice that underpin civility and our freedom.   Yes, the #MeToo era has merit, but not at the expense and erosion of the foundations of our democracy.  Sen. Hirono should step up for justice, for women and for men, and perform her duty to uphold the Constitution that she swore under oath to defend.