Equalitea, Trains, and Teddy KennedyAugust 26, 2008
The rest of Monday, the first official day of the 2008 Democratic National Convention, sped by. After a brief visit to the Seniors Caucus in the early afternoon — women’s economic security across the lifespan and healthcare reform have long been fixtures in AAUW’s member-adopted Public Policy Program and are key priorities of the caucus — I was off to the Women’s Equalitea. Hosted by our coalition partners the Feminist Majority, NOW, Ms. magazine, and the National Association of Social Workers, this event was truly the place to be Monday for any convention goer who cares about women’s policy issues. Plus, it gave us all a chance to celebrate Women’s Equality Day together.
As I mentioned earlier, these events are a good opportunity to network with members of Congress and their staffs, in an environment outside the nation’s capital. It is also an opportunity to thank them for the work they’ve done to advance our issues. The fact that a group attends convention conveys their gravitas to elected officials and to the other groups involved, so AAUW’s presence is an important part not only of our lobbying work but of our coalition efforts as well. The Equalitea was no exception; many women’s groups were in attendance, and some key members of Congress stopped by as well. I was able to talk to some good friends of AAUW, such as Women’s Caucus co-chair Lois Capps (D-CA), as well as Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) — a senior member of the House Education and Labor Committee, where AAUW does much business.
Video from the Women’s Equalitea featuring Rep. Maxine Waters (courtesy of MOMocrats)
Next I was off to the Celebrate Diversity event, hosted by our coalition partner, the Human Rights Campaign. AAUW has long worked with them on expanding hate crimes laws, and we hope to finally pass this critical legislation in the 111th Congress. I then spent some time at the Congressional Black Caucus reception, held on the BNSF railway cars at Denver’s Union Station. The CBC has been a great ally on pay equity issues in general and the Ledbetter bill in particular. From there it was on to the Pepsi Center, where another crazy long line awaited me to get into the evening’s convention speeches — what some of you may have watched on television.
However, the wait was worth it to hear people like Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA), former Rep. Jim Leach (R-IA), and — the headliner of the evening — Michelle Obama talk about key AAUW issues such as pay equity, education, and equal opportunity in the workplace. I must say, the atmosphere for Michelle Obama’s speech was electric, and the crowd was thrilled to have Sen. Kennedy, who has been battling brain cancer, make an appearance at the convention.
The last event of the night was a party — yes, a party — but lest you think it’s all fun and games, I managed to do some business there too. The event was the Chicago Night party, hosted by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL). I managed to snag a great seat next to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and we had a good interaction about AAUW issues. You see, these parties give you a chance to socialize in a much more informal way but still have meaningful conversation. The fact that I got to see a performance by the Second City comedy players — well, that was just icing on the cake.
More later today!