Monthly Archives: April 2019

4 posts

Boynton plans ‘Hilgrimage’

Cindy Wolfe Boynton listens as my husband makes a point after Friday night’s talk at the Oakdale.

By CAROLYN MILAZZO MURPHY

Cindy Wolfe Boynton is taking a Hilgrimage this summer.

Our plucky chapter president and admitted Hillary Clinton “groupie” plans to visit the former First Lady’s childhood home outside Chicago and other pivotal places in her life en route to NOW’s National Conference in Minneapolis, MN. in July.

Her route is a little circuitous, wending its way through several midwestern and southern states, including Arkansas, where she’ll find the house where Bill and Hillary Cilnton wed in 1974.
Cindy is making the 29-day trip decidedly alone, leaving her husband Ted and two adult sons to fend for themselves. She’s says she’s waited a lifetime for this trip and wants to do it her way, with no interference or input from anyone.
“If I want to sit in the sun and do nothing all day, that’s what I’m going to do,” Cindy, 51, said. “Since 1985 when I began dating my husband, I’ve always had to adjust to being someone’s wife, mother, or daughter. This is the first trip I’ll ever take where I can do whatever I want, when I want, and not have to apologize for it.”

Though Cindy can sunbathe if she wants, she plans to spend much of her time meeting with feminists in various states and visiting places that have been instrumental to the women’s movement. A longtime freelance writer and college writing instructor, she plans to write about her experiences, possibly for an upcoming book.

Cindy shared plans for her excellent adventure with me after attending “A Night With the Clintons” at the Oakdale Theater in Wallingford. She deftly deflected my suggestion that I accompany her on one leg of the journey. Well, I tried. And let’s face it: we all secretly wish we can stow away with someone making a break for it Thelma and Louise-style.
Cindy has been mapping her journey for months, and in typical fashion, already has all of her motel rooms booked. Going to see Hillary at the last-minute was a no-brainer for Cindy, who worked tirelessly on her campaign in 2016.
Though ticket sales initially appeared sluggish for the even, the Clintons delayed their talk by about 40 minutes while hundreds of people jostled for parking spaces in heavy downpours Friday night.
By the time moderator Star Jones began questioning the couple, the hall was packed with Clinton supporters. There was hooting and hollering, with the occasional call of “We need you Hillary!” and “2020!” But it’s clear that Hillary’s campaign days are behind her, and she’s still regrouping from her loss to President Trump in November, 2016.
There were no surprises during the 90-minute talk, which included snippets about the Clintons’ courtship at Yale Law School in the early 70s. Fun fact: Bill Clinton once cajoled a Yale security guard to unlock a museum for Hillary, who was disappointed it was closed. The only caveat was the couple had to pick up garbage outside the museum because Yale workers were on strike.
“I’ve always considered myself very pro labor and this was the only time I crossed a picket line,” Bill said. “But I didn’t really cross a picket line because it was just one guy inside the museum. And I didn’t think anybody would mind us picking up leaves, sticks and other debris.”
Bill Clinton also confessed that he was smitten with Hillary from the start, proposing to her at least three times before she said yes. The couple joked that she has a history of turning down proposals from powerful men, noting she refused President Obama’s invitation to become Secretary of State several times before finally accepting it.
The Clintons appeared relaxed and rested during the talk, which was panned by some reporters a shameless and boring money-raising nostalgia tour for the couple. I guess they have a point. Listening to the Clintons made me long for the good old days when our country’s leaders listened and negotiated instead of ruling with an iron fist, accusing reporters of fake news and calling people names like a 6-year-old.
Bill’s voice is raspier than during his presidency, though he still has the southern charm that helped win him two elections. He spun several yarns about growing up in Arkansas, reminding the audience that the National Rifle Association plays on the fears of people in rural areas like those in his home state.

The couple spoke of the need for a ban on automatic assault weapons and stricter background checks to reduce the number of mass shootings in this country. And they pointed out that reducing gun violence won’t happen until voters take a stand at the polls and make gun control a voting issue.

I texted Cindy when I heard the Clintons would be at Oakdale. She had something on her calendar, but it looked like the weather wouldn’t cooperate so yes, she’d be there. In fact, she wanted to sit in the orchestra section so she could get a good look at “her girl” Hillary.
Though typically tardy like me, Cindy arrived about an hour early and stood in a long line in heavy rain as security officers searched people and ran them through metal detectors. She stood by the will call window for another hour as my husband and I sat in a traffic jam in the parking lot. Most people would have been angry or discouraged, but Cindy patiently asked for her ticket when I finally arrived.
I could see that Cindy was anxious to take her seat. She was about to see and hear her hero Hillary, whom she credits with helping her cope with the death of her father in the summer of 2016.
“If it wasn’t for the campaign, I’d probably have crawled into a ball and stayed in bed after my father’s death,” Cindy said. “Being involved in that campaign was important because it was something greater than myself. My father had never voted for a Democrat in his life, but he planned to vote for Hillary in November.”

Cindy dived head first into Hillary’s campaign, heading up a field office in Milford, CT., aimed at garnering votes in Connecticut and New Hampshire. Along the way, she met Hillary several times. She says she was most impressed by Hillary’s willingness to listen to people with an open mind, and change her opinion when necessary. She was also struck by her ability to make and forge lasting friendships with people along the campaign trail.

Though devastated by Hillary’s defeat in November, 2016, Cindy channeled her disappointment into her own political campaign. She ran as a Democrat for state representative in the 117th District covering Milford, Orange and West Haven, narrowly losing to the Republican incumbent last November.

I’ve long considered Cindy one of the most fearless, persistent and confident people I know. And I think the recent loss of her beloved mother Barbara, who died unexpectedly in March, has made her even stronger and more resilient, if that’s possible.

Nearly 18 years ago, Cindy was one of the first people I told that I adopted my daughter. She was my second child and only 6 days old, and I was still in the adjustment phase when Cindy called me one morning to ask me about an article I was writing for her health magazine.
“I’m sorry, I just adopted a little girl,” I said. “I’m a little out of it this morning.”
“I’m adopted!” she chirped.
Somehow, hearing Cindy say those words was comforting and reassuring. She is, after all, one of the most talented people I know. But it’s her self confidence and belief in herself that’s always impressed me most. She doesn’t take no for an answer, isn’t fazed by the haters who trashed her on Facebook during her campaign. In fact, she left the comments up, saying she’d be happy to discuss issues with people in person.
“She is so self-confident,” my husband Steve remarked this morning. “And it’s not in an arrogant or self-important way. She just exudes the feeling that nothing bothers her. It may on the inside, but she’s appears to be unflappable.”
And in this way, she is so very remarkable, a product of two parents who clearly adored her and convinced her she could do anything she wanted in life. She’s taking her “Hilgrimage,” and doing it her way. I wouldn’t expect anything less, and I’m sure her parents would approve.

Carolyn Milazzo Murphy of Guilford is a freelance writer and frequent contributor to the Connecticut NOW chapter’s blog.

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Legislators: Pass SB972 to Eradicate Law that Marginalizes Women and is Unjust to All

April 16, 2019

Dear members of the Connecticut General Assembly:

The Connecticut chapter of the National Organization for Women, committed to advancing women’s rights and ending all forms of discrimination, joins in partnership with the 16 additional organizations listed below to urge you to support SB 972, An Act Concerning Access to Original Birth Records By Adult Adopted Persons. SB 972 would eradicate a misguided law put in place in the 1970s to “protect” Connecticut women, but instead is no more than a thinly veiled effort to silence and marginalize them.

There is an assumption that birth parents, especially birth mothers, are adversaries of adult adoptees when it comes to the question of restoring adult adoptees’ rights to their original birth certificates. However, for the majority of adult adoptees and their birth parents, nothing is further from the truth. Birth mothers have testified in support of SB 972 and, in doing so, have revealed a stain on our society about the actual circumstances surrounding the relinquishment of their children.

It is here where our support as women is rooted. Concerned United Birthparents, an organization made up of those with a lived birth parent experience, tells us about the great injustices done to women who relinquished their children. In written testimony submitted to the Legislature supporting SB 972, they write: “This misguided attempt to ‘protect our privacy’ actually perpetuates the shame that was originally inflicted on us by a society that rejected us a women and mothers.” Moreover, Connecticut birth mothers elaborate how this shame was a reality in their own testimonies:

“I never sought confidentiality as a birthmother. Anonymity was forced upon me. – Southbury, CT, birth mother Dr. Judy Kelly

“I was promised many things by social workers before I signed surrender papers—that my life would go on as if my pregnancy never happened, that I would forget, that my daughter would lead a better life than I could have given her.  I was never given any assurance of anonymity.” – Bethel, CT, birth mother Karen Waggoner

“The agency made it abundantly clear my rights to my child would be terminated and that I was not allowed to attempt to interfere with the adoptive family. I don’t believe they were concerned for MY privacy.”  – Newington, CT, birth mother Holly Harlow

The Connecticut Legislature’s vote in 1975 to seal the birth records of all adoptees—even for those who already knew the names of their biological parents as allowed under the law at that time—took place as part of an era where being pregnant, without being married, was almost the worst thing a woman could do. Starting in the late 1940s and ending around the time of this vote, this was a time in our history when single women who became pregnant were sent away, forced to live under assumed names, received “rehabilitation services” to help ensure they wouldn’t “repeat their mistake,” and were then told that they had absolutely no choice but to give up their babies, even though this was not the truth. During this period known as the “Baby Scoop Era,” more than 4 million mothers across the U.S. gave up their babies, including approximately 40,000 from Connecticut.

These statistics are as astounding as the shame cast on these “ruined women.” Doctors, nurses and social workers told them that they should forget that this “unfortunate situation” ever occurred and move on with their lives. What health and adoption experts know today, however, is that this secrecy instead inflicted ongoing pain. Citing the chronic physical and mental health issues that too many of these birth mothers have suffered, 27 Connecticut health and human service organizations have stated unwavering support for SB 972, including the Connecticut State Medical Society, the Connecticut Council on Adoption, the Connecticut Alliance of Foster and Adoptive Parents, and the Connecticut chapter of the National Association of Social Workers.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg warned that we should be “suspicious of women-only protective legislation.” Yet Connecticut’s current law renders those caught in adoption—both adult adoptees and birth parents—as second-class citizens, living their entire lives under government-imposed gag orders that continue forced silence based in shame.

This misogynistic and outdated law treats adult women as if they require special legal protections given only to children and the legally incompetent. Keeping this law in place perpetuates the demeaning stereotype that women who relinquished their children are weak and less-than-competent adults who need state protection to handle their most basic affairs and personal choices. It is disrespectful of their autonomy and capacity as adults. Women are capable of managing their personal business and should be treated as full, equal adults under the law.

Furthermore, adult adopted women (and men) are also discriminated against by existing law. Against their will and without their consent, they have been deprived of a basic birthright to know their origins like all other citizens. Lack of knowledge of family medical history also puts adoptees at risk and, in too many instances, has led to life-threatening situations for them or their children.

Connecticut legislators have the opportunity today to be leaders in the ongoing fight for women’s equality. Passing SB 972 would repeal a law, written by men, that deemed women too “fragile” to speak in their own voices. It would put an end to an oppressive era in Connecticut history that denied women their choice of whether to parent, denied women the ability to control their sexuality and bodies, and that supported the premise that any woman who had broken society’s patriarchal norms by becoming pregnant “out of wedlock” should be shunned and shamed.

Our support for SB972 is about restoring optionality, giving all women a choice where they had none before, and treating all people equally under one consistent law. The time is now. The right side of history is today. Support SB 972, An Act Concerning Access to Original Birth Records By Adult Adopted Persons along with the truth, equality, and justice it provides.

Sincerely,

Access Connecticut

Action Together CT

Charter Oak Cultural Center

Connecticut Conference of the United Church of Christ

Connecticut Council on Adoption

Connecticut Indivisible

Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund

Fairfield Standing United

ForwardCT

National Association of Social Workers, Connecticut Chapter

National Organization for Women, Connecticut Chapter

The Connecticut Women’s Consortium

True Colors

West Haven Progressive Action Network

Women’s March Connecticut Chapter

YWCA Greenwich

YWCA Hartford Region

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‘Be on the right side of history,’ Connecticut Organizations Tell Legislators

Pass SB972 to Eradicate Law that Marginalizes Women and is Unjust to All

HARTFORD, Conn.—Led by the Connecticut chapter of the National Organization for Women, 17 Connecticut organizations and 26 cosponsoring legislators called on the General Assembly to pass SB 972, An Act Concerning Access to Original Birth Records By Adult Adopted Persons, and eradicate a misguided law passed 44 years ago to “protect” Connecticut women, but instead is no more than a thinly veiled effort to silence and marginalize them.

The bill would restore the right of every adopted person in Connecticut to obtain a copy of his or her original birth certificate, which was allowed in Connecticut until a misguided bill that sealed the records was passed in 1975, said Connecticut NOW President Cindy Wolfe Boynton. Boynton spoke at a press conference today at the Legislative Office Building, organized by Connecticut NOW and co-sponsored by Access Connecticut, State Senator Steve Cassano and State Representative Cristin McCarthy Vahey.

SB972 would also build on a law passed in 2014 that allows individuals adopted after October 1, 1983 to obtain an uncertified copy of their original birth certificate. SB972 would provide the same rights to adoptees born before October 1, 1983.

“The Connecticut Legislature’s vote in 1975 to seal the birth records of all adoptees—even for those who already knew the names of their biological parents as allowed under the law at that time—took place as part of an era where being pregnant, without being married, was almost the worst thing a woman could do,” Connecticut NOW President Cindy Wolfe Boynton said today.

“Passing SB 972 would put an end to an oppressive era in Connecticut history that denied women their choice of whether to parent, denied women the ability to control their sexuality and bodies, and that supported the premise that any woman who had broken society’s patriarchal norms by becoming pregnant ‘out of wedlock’ should be shunned and shamed.

During this period from late 1940s to the mid-1970s, more than 4 million mothers from across the U.S. gave up their babies. Approximately 40,000 of the mothers affected by this “Baby Scoop Era” were from Connecticut.

Opponents of SB972 cite the incorrect assumption that birth parents, especially birth mothers, are adversaries of adult adoptees when it comes to the question of restoring adult adoptees’ rights to their original birth certificates.

“However, for the overwhelming majority of adult adoptees and their birth parents, nothing is further from the truth,” said Access Connecticut Now President Karen Caffrey. “In states that have passed laws similar to SB972, birth mothers say that hearing from the adult adoptee is the best thing that ever happened to them, ending years of worry and longing. Connecticut birth mothers have also testified in support of SB 972, saying they are heartily in favor of it passing.”

More than 25 Connecticut health and human service organizations have also stated unwavering support for SB 972, including the Connecticut State Medical Society, the Connecticut Council on Adoption, the Connecticut Alliance of Foster and Adoptive Families, and the Connecticut chapter of the National Association of Social Workers.

A 2007 survey by UConn’s Center for Survey and Research Analysis shows that an overwhelming 82 percent of Connecticut registered voters support adoptees having the ability to access their original birth records.

The Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund, Women’s March CT, Action Together, Connecticut Indivisible and the YMCAs of Hartford and Greenwich are among the statewide organizations that signed on to the letter Connecticut NOW presented to the General Assembly as part of the press conference earlier today.

Please read the full text of that letter here:

April 16, 2019

Dear members of the Connecticut General Assembly:

The Connecticut chapter of the National Organization for Women, committed to advancing women’s rights and ending all forms of discrimination, joins in partnership with the 16 additional organizations listed below to urge you to support SB 972, An Act Concerning Access to Original Birth Records By Adult Adopted Persons. SB 972 would eradicate a misguided law put in place in the 1970s to “protect” Connecticut women, but instead is no more than a thinly veiled effort to silence and marginalize them.

There is an assumption that birth parents, especially birth mothers, are adversaries of adult adoptees when it comes to the question of restoring adult adoptees’ rights to their original birth certificates. However, for the majority of adult adoptees and their birth parents, nothing is further from the truth. Birth mothers have testified in support of SB 972 and, in doing so, have revealed a stain on our society about the actual circumstances surrounding the relinquishment of their children.

It is here where our support as women is rooted. Concerned United Birthparents, an organization made up of those with a lived birth parent experience, tells us about the great injustices done to women who relinquished their children. In written testimony submitted to the Legislature supporting SB 972, they write: “This misguided attempt to ‘protect our privacy’ actually perpetuates the shame that was originally inflicted on us by a society that rejected us a women and mothers.” Moreover, Connecticut birth mothers elaborate how this shame was a reality in their own testimonies:

“I never sought confidentiality as a birthmother. Anonymity was forced upon me. – Southbury, CT, birth mother Dr. Judy Kelly

“I was promised many things by social workers before I signed surrender papers—that my life would go on as if my pregnancy never happened, that I would forget, that my daughter would lead a better life than I could have given her.  I was never given any assurance of anonymity.” – Bethel, CT, birth mother Karen Waggoner

“The agency made it abundantly clear my rights to my child would be terminated and that I was not allowed to attempt to interfere with the adoptive family. I don’t believe they were concerned for MY privacy.”  – Newington, CT, birth mother Holly Harlow

The Connecticut Legislature’s vote in 1975 to seal the birth records of all adoptees—even for those who already knew the names of their biological parents as allowed under the law at that time—took place as part of an era where being pregnant, without being married, was almost the worst thing a woman could do. Starting in the late 1940s and ending around the time of this vote, this was a time in our history when single women who became pregnant were sent away, forced to live under assumed names, received “rehabilitation services” to help ensure they wouldn’t “repeat their mistake,” and were then told that they had absolutely no choice but to give up their babies, even though this was not the truth. During this period known as the “Baby Scoop Era,” more than 4 million mothers across the U.S. gave up their babies, including approximately 40,000 from Connecticut.

These statistics are as astounding as the shame cast on these “ruined women.” Doctors, nurses and social workers told them that they should forget that this “unfortunate situation” ever occurred and move on with their lives. What health and adoption experts know today, however, is that this secrecy instead inflicted ongoing pain. Citing the chronic physical and mental health issues that too many of these birth mothers have suffered, 27 Connecticut health and human service organizations have stated unwavering support for SB 972, including the Connecticut State Medical Society, the Connecticut Council on Adoption, the Connecticut Alliance of Foster and Adoptive Parents, and the Connecticut chapter of the National Association of Social Workers.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg warned that we should be “suspicious of women-only protective legislation.” Yet Connecticut’s current law renders those caught in adoption—both adult adoptees and birth parents—as second-class citizens, living their entire lives under government-imposed gag orders that continue forced silence based in shame.

This misogynistic and outdated law treats adult women as if they require special legal protections given only to children and the legally incompetent. Keeping this law in place perpetuates the demeaning stereotype that women who relinquished their children are weak and less-than-competent adults who need state protection to handle their most basic affairs and personal choices. It is disrespectful of their autonomy and capacity as adults. Women are capable of managing their personal business and should be treated as full, equal adults under the law.

Furthermore, adult adopted women (and men) are also discriminated against by existing law. Against their will and without their consent, they have been deprived of a basic birthright to know their origins like all other citizens. Lack of knowledge of family medical history also puts adoptees at risk and, in too many instances, has led to life-threatening situations for them or their children.

Connecticut legislators have the opportunity today to be leaders in the ongoing fight for women’s equality. Passing SB 972 would repeal a law, written by men, that deemed women too “fragile” to speak in their own voices. It would put an end to an oppressive era in Connecticut history that denied women their choice of whether to parent, denied women the ability to control their sexuality and bodies, and that supported the premise that any woman who had broken society’s patriarchal norms by becoming pregnant “out of wedlock” should be shunned and shamed.

Our support for SB972 is about restoring optionality, giving all women a choice where they had none before, and treating all people equally under one consistent law. The time is now. The right side of history is today. Support SB 972, An Act Concerning Access to Original Birth Records By Adult Adopted Persons along with the truth, equality, and justice it provides.

Sincerely,

Access Connecticut

Action Together CT

Charter Oak Cultural Center

Connecticut Conference of the United Church of Christ

Connecticut Council on Adoption

Connecticut Indivisible

Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund

Fairfield Standing United

ForwardCT

National Association of Social Workers, Connecticut Chapter

National Organization for Women, Connecticut Chapter

The Connecticut Women’s Consortium

True Colors

West Haven Progressive Action Network

Women’s March Connecticut Chapter

YWCA Greenwich

YWCA Hartford Region

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Media Alert: Pass SB972 to Eradicate Law that Marginalizes Women and is Unjust to All

April 15, 2019

MEDIA ALERT

WHAT: Press conference sponsored by the Connecticut chapter of the National Organization for Women in partnership with Access Connecticut Now, State Senator Steve Cassano and State Representative Cristin McCarthy Vahey. 

WHY: Connecticut NOW and more than 15 partner organizations have joined forces to urge the Connecticut General Assembly to pass SB 972, An Act Concerning Access to Original Birth Records By Adult Adopted Persons as a way to eradicate a misguided law put in place in the 1970s to “protect” Connecticut women, but instead is no more than a thinly veiled effort to silence and marginalize them.

WHEN: 3 p.m. Tuesday, April 16

WHERE: Room 1B of the Legislative Office Building, Hartford

For more information, please contact:

Cindy Wolfe Boynton – 203-214-7554 or president@now-ct.org
President, National Organization for Women, Connecticut Chapter

Karen Caffrey – 860-306-0900 or kdcaffrey@gmail.com
President, Access Connecticut Now

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