WELCOME to the next edition of NOW New Jersey’s monthly FEMINIST FRIDAY Newsletter! June is Pride Month and we could not be more excited. While most celebrations last year were canceled due to the pandemic, this year events are back in full force as the state begins to open up. The Union County Office of LGBTQ Affairs, headed by NOW New Jersey Action VP Danni Newbury, has organized a slate of events throughout June that you won’t want to miss!

Today is Menstrual Hygiene Day! This day is celebrated globally to highlight the importance of good menstrual hygiene. In 2019, NOW New Jersey and National Council of Jewish Women, Essex Section invited partners working to address period poverty in the state to join in a coalition to advocate for legislation aimed at reducing period stigma and poverty. In honor of our efforts, Governor Phil Murphy issued a proclamation declaring May 28, 2021 – Menstrual Equity Day in New Jersey. There are resolutions pending in both chambers of the legislature, the Senate and the Assembly, to declare May 28 every year as Menstrual Equity Day!

To learn more about the Equality, Period, NJ coalition, visit their website here.

This week, our own Senator Menendez and U.S. Representative Katherine Clark (MA-5) were joined by 22 of their Senate and 122 of their House colleagues in addition to leading reproductive health and human rights organizations and activists in announcing the bicameral reintroduction of the Reproductive Rights are Human Rights Act. The bill requires that the State Department include the status of reproductive rights in nearly 150 countries as part of its annual human rights assessment and report to Congress and the President. In a concerted effort to erase sexual and reproductive rights as human rights, the Trump administration eliminated reporting on broader reproductive rights issues, such as safe abortion services and quality maternal health care. This bill would mandate such reporting for future administrations.


PROTECTING THE FRONT LINE — On April 29, the Healthy Terminals Act was signed into law in New Jersey. COVID has shown that healthcare is more important than ever, especially for our frontline workers at Newark Liberty International Airport. Congratulations to 32BJ SEIU and the airport workers who fought to make this a reality.

ON THE BASIS OF SEX — On Monday, the NJ Supreme Court said it will hear the case of Victoria Crisitello, who was fired from St. Theresa School in Kenilworth when she disclosed she was pregnant while unmarried. The case was first brought to court in 2014 and has been twice dismissed by trial court judges in Union County. However, each time state appeals judges have overturned the decision citing New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination (LAD). The main argument rested on the fact that no men are terminated for engaging in premarital sex — only women since only women become pregnant, which violates LAD. Now, the school is appealing to the Supreme Court, which will decide the final outcome of the case.

WE WANT REPRODUCTIVE FREEDOM NOW — The Reproductive Freedom Task Force is in full swing. The Thrive-NJ coalition’s first round of constituent lobbying sessions just concluded and several NOW-NJ members joined virtual meetings with legislators on why New Jersey must #PassThe RFA. NOW members have also been attending daily rallies held this week outside the district offices of Senate President Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Coughlin. All of these efforts have been coordinated by the Taskforce Chair, Merrill Mezzacappa. To get more involved, email Merrill. Be sure to also check out the newly revamped Thrive-NJ website, courtesy of NOW-NJ President Anjali Mehrotra.


RUN NOW — Last week National NOW announced RUN NOW, a campaign training program exclusively for NOW members. NOW members will have the unique opportunity to learn the mechanics of running for office and working on a campaign from a roster of expert trainers from leading organizations. To kick off the effort, National is hosting a virtual launch party on Wednesday, June 2 at 7:30PM.

Join special guests – A’shanti Gholar, President of Emerge America, and Delegate Hala Ayala, Candidate for Virginia Lieutenant Governor – and NOW leaders from across the country to celebrate our history and community of feminist disruptors who have been influencing change for decades. Sign up to join here!

TALKING “SHE-CESSION” — On Friday, June 4, New Jersey State Treasurer, Elizabeth Maher Muoi, is hosting a Symposium on COVID, Women and the Economy: Avoiding the Next “She-cession.” The half-day, virtual event will bring together leading economists, academics, business professionals, and policy movers and shakers on two separate panels designed to size up the landscape and present solutions on what New Jersey – and the nation – can do to better support women in the workforce in order to build a stronger economy for all. The event will feature appearances from Governor Phil Murphy, First Lady Tammy Murphy, and Reshma Saujani (Founder and CEO of Girls Who Code and driver of the Marshall Plan for Moms) among others. Check out the full guest list and register here.

NATIONAL CONFERENCE 2021 — Registration for the National NOW Conference is now open! This is an officer election year, so stay tuned for officer slates and election details. The conference will span three different weekends in July and August. Check the National NOW website for more info. Even if you are unable to attend, you must be registered in order to vote so make sure to sign up here! There will be a Northern District Caucus meeting on Saturday July 24 at 3:30PM, moderated by NOW New Jersey President and Northern District representative to the National Board, Anjali Mehrotra.

MEETING DATE CHANGE ALERT — Since our original August meeting date conflicts with the National NOW conference, we will now hold our next quarterly meeting on August 21! In the meantime, if you would like to get more involved in our different coalitions to advocate for different bills, reach out to us at info@nownj.org. We are always looking for more help on our Reproductive Rights Taskforce, Menstrual Equity coalition, and more!


PRIMARY SEASON — In anticipation of New Jersey’s Primary elections on June 8, the NOW New Jersey PAC released a slate of early endorsements: Governor Phil Murphy, Assembly Member Annette Quijano (LD20), and Assembly Candidate Anjali Mehrotra (LD21).

Linda Weber, Chair of NOW NJ PAC, said, “Now, more than ever, we need to elect feminist men and women, and especially women of color. Representation matters, and we need diverse voices to ensure that underserved communities are not left behind. The events of the past year have highlighted the inequities and weaknesses of our systems and we need candidates who will fight for civil rights and legislation that drives equity. All three of these candidates have demonstrated unwavering support for our issues and we are honored to endorse them.”

#PASSTHERFA NOW — Last week the US Supreme Court announced that they would review a lower court’s ruling on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case that challenges Mississippi’s law restricting abortion after 15 weeks. Now more than ever, we need to pass the Reproductive Freedom Act to protect access to abortion in New Jersey. As Chair of NOW New Jersey’s Reproductive Rights Taskforce, Merrill Mezzacappa, noted, “Currently New Jersey courts provide greater constitutional protections than the U. S. Supreme Court on abortion, but it creates the same uncertainty that we have lived with at the federal level. Should we rely solely on them? We have the opportunity to pass comprehensive legislation, a statute that not only codifies the right but addresses equity and access in a way that our cases do not. There is no reason for Jerseyans to feel vulnerable as abortion rights sink around the country when our legislators can easily step up.”


A prosecutor says no to a rape charge, so a college student calls her own grand jury — The Washington Post

The Catholic Church’s Reproductive Fight Is About Controlling Women’s Freedom — The New York Times

Maya Angelou, Sally Ride to Be Among First Women Featured on U.S. Quarters — Smithsonian Magazine

Biden administration announces reversal of Trump-era limits on protections for transgender people in health care — NBC News

Military Sexual Assault Bill Gains Bipartisan Support in the Senate — Feminist Majority


“The question that drives this debate is not as it is so often characterized, it is not about two opposing sides –  good and evil – rather it’s about trust and dignity, it’s about privilege and power! Do we trust women to make the right decisions for themselves and their families? Do women deserve to be treated with the dignity and respect that we so often automatically afford men? Is access to necessary medical care something only for the powerful and wealthy? In New Jersey I think we’re ready to answer those questions. And our reply is the Reproductive Freedom Act.” – First Lady Tammy Murphy at the RFA Webinar that Governor Murphy hosted with Planned Parenthood Federation of America President and CEO, Alexis McGill Johnson, along with Senator Loretta Weinberg and Assembly Member Valerie Huttle.

Watch Tammy Murphy’s full remarks here.

Do not miss this honest and brave Op-Ed written by Johnson discussing Planned Parenthood’s fraught history with their celebrated founder, Margaret Sanger. The piece constitutes the first public reckoning of PPFA with their founder’s racist practices – both recognizing Sanger for her role in founding the organization while condemning the instances in which she fell on the wrong side of history. Johnson notes, “Sanger remains an influential part of our history and will not be erased, but as we tell the history of Planned Parenthood’s founding, we must fully take responsibility for the harm that Sanger caused to generations of people with disabilities and Black, Latino, Asian-American, and Indigenous people.”

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Our purpose is to act through intersectional, anti-racist grassroots activism to promote
feminist ideals, lead societal change, eliminate discrimination, and achieve and protect
the equal rights of all women and girls in all aspects of social, political, and economic life.

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