Now, the Good News

By Lisa Bennett, NOW Communications Director

As promised yesterday, here are a few positive news stories…

NCAA Says No Thanks to Focus on the Family: Even if CBS can’t see the downside to associating with the ultra-conservative group Focus on the Family, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) can. This week the NCAA removed a Focus on the Family banner ad from one of its websites. The Associated Press reports that “the decision to pull the ad was based not on the message but on the messenger.”

The ad was apparently another soft-focus promotion of family and “life” — much like the Tebow Super Bowl ad. Perhaps the fact that NCAA web visitors could immediately click and read some of Focus on the Family’s more incendiary rhetoric made the decision to drop the banner an easy one. Pat Griffin, a consultant to the NCAA on LGBT issues, told the AP that the ad’s “life” reference is anti-abortion, and its celebration of families is limited to “a very specific kind of family — heterosexual married families. A large part of their energy goes to preventing other kinds of families of having recognition.” Thanks to the NCAA for putting two and two together.

Reid Speaks Out on Rise in Domestic Violence: Last September NOW President Terry O’Neill noted that the recession was fueling an increase in family violence, and funding for domestic violence, child welfare and mental health programs should not be cut during this critical time. On Monday, while speaking in favor of a jobs bill, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made similar remarks about how unemployment can contribute to a rise in domestic violence. Numerous studies back up this assertion, by the way.

But the folks at Fox News and other conservative media outlets immediately jumped on Reid, even joking that Reid might abuse his own wife if he fails to get re-elected. Reid, who wrote in his autobiography about coming to his mother’s defense when his father abused her, passionately stood by his comments. According to Politico, Reid said: “There is no question that people being out of work causes more people to be involved in domestic violence. I mean, I didn’t make that up. . . . In Las Vegas, I met with two people who run domestic crisis shelters, and they said very clearly with the high unemployment that we have in Nevada, it’s created lots of additional work for them they would rather not have.” Kudos to Reid for not backing down.

Women Descending to New Depths: Did you know that women in the Navy still aren’t allowed to serve on submarines? Who knew?! Well, the Pentagon announced this week that they intend to put an end to this ban, with the first women expected on subs by the end of next year.

According to Reuters, “Women account for about 15 percent of the more than 336,000 members of the U.S. Navy and can serve on its surface ships. But critics have argued that submarines are different, pointing to cramped quarters where some crews share beds in shifts.”

American Forces Press Service reports that Navy Secretary Ray Mabus told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the Navy is ready for this move, based on years of lessons learned about integrating women into the services, including having a “critical mass” of female candidates and senior women to serve as mentors. Adm. Gary Roughead, chief of naval operations, told the committee that this expansion will allow the submarine force “to leverage the tremendous talent and potential of our female officers and enlisted personnel.” We agree with the admiral that it’s great when you can employ people of both sexes in all positions.

Breaking Another Glass Ceiling: In other “female firsts” news, Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced that Letitia Long, currently the Defense Intelligence Agency’s deputy director, will take over as head of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. Long will be the first woman to head a major U.S. intelligence agency.

Federal Times reports that Long “has more than three decades of engineering and intelligence experience. She has also served as deputy undersecretary of Defense for intelligence, deputy director of naval intelligence, and coordinator of intelligence community activities at the CIA.”

Congrats to Long for making history and kicking open the door for those behind her. The march to integrate women into all fields at all levels can seem like an awfully slow process, but we’re getting there, one step at a time!

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