Women’s Votes Count – Be Sure to Vote! (Nov 5 2012)

Women played a decisive role in the 2004 presidential elections by voting at higher rates than men.  According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census, the rate of voter turnout was 60.1 % for women, compared with 56.3% for men in 2004.

Please be sure to vote for the candidates of your choice again this year. It is especially important since there are so many issues at stake for women, for artists, and for our country as a whole.

Arts Issues

Americans for the Arts has created a handy chart to compare the arts policies of President Obama and Governor Romney.

Arts Funding – The Obama administration supports budget increases for the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.  The Romney-Ryan team is proposing to cut or eliminate funding for those agencies.

Charitable Giving – Both candidates are proposing revisions to the tax benefits for charitable giving.  Under the current law, if you make a gift to a 501(c)(3)  non-profit organization (including many arts and educational organizations), you are eligible for a tax deduction.  Many non-profit leaders are concerned about the proposed changes because they believe that these tax deductions are major incentives for the people who make the largest gifts.

The Obama administration proposes reducing the value of the charitable deduction from 35 percent of the amount of the gift to 28 percent for those households that make more than $250,000.  The Romney-Ryan team proposes to combine charitable deductions with other tax deductions, such as mortgage interest, all of which would be limited by an overall cap.

Women’s Issues

The National Organization of Women (N.O.W.) has prepared a chart comparing Obama’s and Romney’s positions on women’s issues.  The chart shows that there are substantial differences between the candidates on many issues important to women.  Two are discussed below.

Equal Pay –  President Obama supports efforts to close the gender wage gap (women on average are paid just 77 cents to the dollar paid to men; for African American women it’s 69 cents on the dollar, and for Latinas it’s only 59 cents). The very first bill he signed into law, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, bolstered women’s fair pay rights.

Mitt Romney has no comment on women’s legal right to equal pay. Paul Ryan voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act as a member of the House.

Violence Against Women Act – Another key issue is the Violence Against Women Act since a high rate of sexual violence is still a sad fact of American life.  The United States passed a Violence Against Women Act in 1994 after the World Conference on Human Rights, held in Vienna in 1993, and the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women in the same year, concluded that domestic and sexual violence are public health and human rights concerns.

The 1994 U.S. Violence Against Women Act was championed by Vice President Joe Biden (who was a senator at the time) and it provided $1.6 billion toward the investigation and prosecution of violent crimes against women.  The bill was re-authorized in 2000 and again in 2005.

In April 2012, the Senate voted to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, and the House subsequently passed its own measure (omitting provisions of the Senate bill that would protect lesbians, gay men, American Indians, and illegal immigrants who were victims of domestic or sexual violence). Reconciliation of the two bills has been stymied by procedural measures, leaving the reauthorization in question.

President Obama supports reauthorization of the bill with the expanded coverage in the Senate version.  Governor Romney’s position on this issue is unclear. Paul Ryan voted for the House version of the bill that does not include the expanded coverage.

Please see the N.O.W. chart for more information about the candidate’s positions on other women’s issues.

Best Wishes,
Martha Richards
Executive Director, WomenArts