A Reason To Rise and Rally

Cartoon by Julie Gundersen.

Last week, SUNY New Paltz played host to a rally in support of the Women’s Equality Agenda (WEA), a ten point bill looking to strengthen language in New York State laws to be consistent with federal ones and prevent gender-based discrimination. The bill was stalled in Senate last session due to its components related to abortion rights and will be up for consideration again in 2014.

Students and faculty members in support of the agenda have encouraged others to educate themselves, mobilize and campaign in the oncoming months to see the bill pass.

We at The New Paltz Oracle commend the students, faculty and organizations that came together in support of this cause and cannot help but echo their call-to-action.

The WEA seeks to codify language that is already present federally on the state level, through promoting progressive ideals and replacing tired and outdated language in our laws.

The provisions would remove an exception within the current laws that prohibits pay differences for “any factor other than sex” and replace it with one that only uses “job-related” factors to make informed pay decisions.

It really doesn’t seem like a lot to ask for, to have our language match our ideals that women are deserving of equal pay for equal work.  It just seems decent to combat oppressive policies tha we’re likely to look back on as draconian years down the line.

The agenda also looks to offer stronger protections to victims of domestic violence and human trafficking, to ensure people are held accountable to the extent the laws can allow after committing such atrocities.

And, to address one of the more common complaints regarding the agenda: it does not seek to expand abortion rights within the state. It simply looks to put the same language that has been acknowledged as federal law since the Supreme Court ruling of Roe v. Wade into the New York State law books.

It would not interfere with or take away from the lives or freedoms of people within our state to see this law come to pass; it would, however, significantly better the lives of women within our state.

We believe the students and faculty who took part in the rally were taking the first necessary steps toward this goal. We encourage our fellow students to come out in support of the agenda and to take part in the activism they are comfortable with, whether it’s signing a petition, attending or organizing a rally or simply making your voices heard by their representatives. Every act matters, no matter how small.

The large-scale, institutional social problems tend to seem like the monsters that cannot be defeated. They’re often intimidating, overwhelming and disparaging to veterans and those getting their feet wet in activism alike.

However, the benefits of consistent language in our laws are too important to ignore.

If true equality is something we value, apathy is certainly not an option.