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We, The Women – July 1st Edition

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Jul. 1 2013, Published 11:52 a.m. ET

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Young millennial women are always on the go, and sometimes we just don’t have the time to keep up on everything going on in Washington. Introducing We, The Women, your one-stop shop for all things politics. Keep up with the latest news that’s affecting our government while keeping up with your busy schedule!

Where in the World is Barack?

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This past week the President, along with the First Family, began their trip to Africa, which will conclude on July 2. So far, they have visited Senegal and South Africa, and are currently in Tanzania. The aim of this trip is to meet with leaders throughout the African nation to reassure them of America’s commitment to strengthening economic trade and growth between the two.  In addition, continuing to invest in early education and disease prevention was another objective. First Lady Michelle Obama also took advantage of this trip to create an Instagram account, where she has been documenting highlights from her experiences in Africa so far. For more information on the details of their trip,click here.

Women of the Week

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Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D – Ill.)

This past Wednesday, June 26, Duckworth did not hold back as she strongly admonished IRS contractor Braulio Castillo for taking advantage of his military disability status to gain government contracts set aside specifically for disabled veterans. During the House Oversight Committee hearing, the double leg amputee Iraq veteran eloquently but forcefully ripped apart Castillo, who claimed benefits off of a foot injury he suffered while attending The United States Military Academy Preparatory School (USMAPS) 30 years ago. Although Castillo never entered active duty, he was able to claim these benefits because of the prep school he went to. For more information on the full story, click here. To watch the full video,  click here. We salute Duckworth for shedding light on how people are wrongly taking advantage of the system for selfish gains, while leaving good people to suffer on long waiting lists to receive the benefits that they so rightly deserve for defending our nation.

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Wendy Davis, Texas State Senator (D – District 10) 

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On June 25th, Davis stood on the Texas Senate floor for 11 hours in a successful filibuster to prevent Senate Bill 5 from passing. The bill, which has drawn a lot of criticism, aims to place restrictions on various aspects of abortion. If passed, the bill would have banned abortions to be performed after the first 20 weeks of a woman’s pregnancy and placed other restrictions on the doctors performing the procedure and the clinics where abortions can take place. When asked in an interview with Anderson Cooper what she accomplished by fighting through 11 long hours of straight talking with no water, food or bathroom breaks, Davis said “I think the most important thing we accomplished is we empowered the voice of people in Texas.” We salute Davis for taking a stand and showing Texas Governor Rick Perry that every woman should have the right to choose and no government should get in the way of that personal decision.

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW

Supreme Court Rulings

This past week, the Supreme Court ruled on a number of controversial cases. On the issue of gay rights, the Court declared a key section of the Defense of Marriage Act (DoMA for short) unconstitutional. This means that unions between same-sex couples can become federally recognized and receive the same tax benefits as a heterosexual couple can.

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In addition to DOMA, California’s controversial Proposition 8 was also struck down. Prop. 8 prevented same-sex couples from getting married in the state of California and was fought by two couples, Sandra Stier and Kris Perry, and Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo. This past Friday, a few days after Prop. 8 was overturned, the two couples officially got married.  There is still more work to be done in the 37 states that still do not recognize same-sex marriages, but many who support the gay rights movement saw this as a very big step in the right direction towards marriage equality.

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Another critical decision made was regarding the Voting Rights Act of 1965. With a 5-to-4 vote, the Supreme Court struck down a major portion of the law, allowing nine states to change election laws without having to receive federal approval first. Many fear that voter discrimination will occur, mostly in the south, with the overturning of this legislation. President Obama disagreed with the decision, saying he was “deeply disappointed.”

ON THE HILL:

Sexual Assault in the Military

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Around the beginning of the summer, leaders from all of the armed forces testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee about the crimes and culture surrounding the frighteningly increasing rate of sexual assault in the military. The hearings received a lot of attention not just for the subject being discussed, but also because of the strong voices of female senators such as Kirsten E. Gillibrand (D-NY) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) The hearings may have ended, but this is only the beginning of what is expected to be a series of conversations about what steps can be taken to reduce the number of sexual assaults.

Immigration Reform

The Democratic-controlled Senate passed a landmark immigration bill that has been the center of attention this summer in Washington. It now moves to the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, where it is expected to have a harder time passing. The bill includes a plan that would allow illegal immigrants to become a part of a 13 year path to citizenship. It also increases border security to prevent more illegal immigrants from entering into the country.

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