Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Equal Rights Amendment is Re-introduced in Congress

Today was the best day of my life, and it’s not even lunchtime yet.

At 8am I got in the car with Julia on her way to FOX as she prepared to take on Megyn Kelly in probably one of her most controversial TV appearances to date. Discussion topic? Abortion. Not just abortion, but abortion and the role it plays in the new health care legislation. This is my third time at FOX but this time by far was the most exciting, and not just because of the topic of the day. Arriving more than an hour early for her taping, Julia set up in the make-up room and I in the green room. Also in the green room? Former White House Press Secretary Dana Perino. When I introduced myself to her it was incredibly hard to keep myself from blurting out “you had my dream job.” Still a little hopped up on the excitement, Julia and I were whisked off to the studio. All set up in the studio and ready to go, careful not to move her head too much and mess up her supermodel hair, Julia nailed her 8 minute segment with Megyn Kelly. Since I was sitting in the studio with Julia, I couldn’t hear what Megyn was saying on the other side, but it was exciting to hear Julia’s side of the debate. This is going to be a pivotal issue in getting the new health care legislation passed and it was exciting to be in-studio as Julia debated. After the segment, we headed over to the press triangle on Capitol Hill for a press conference/ rally for the Equal Rights Amendment.

The group at the triangle was small, a few photographers, two or three cameramen, and about 30 people—nothing like I had thought it would be like. Then again, it was my first press conference and I had imagined it quite like the press conferences I had seen on the West Wing and in the movies. Although it was a small group in attendance, how mighty it was. Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-New York) has been a leading member of congress on women’s issues and women’s rights, specifically equal pay for equal work, and is the chief House sponsor of the ERA; she made the opening remarks and introductions during the press conference. Speakers included Ellie Smeal, president of Feminist Majority, newly elected president of National Organization for Women Terry O’Neill, Representative Jerrold Nadler from New York, and Representative Shiela Jackson from Texas—that’s not even everyone! I was in awe and shock of the people I was surrounded by—literally surrounded by. In efforts to get young people in the frame, all seven of us interns were squeezed together, rubbing shoulders with these amazing people. I ended up right behind Rep. Maloney and Rep. Nadler ad they made their remarks, my big round face and crazy hair smack dab in the middle. Alyssa and I even found ourselves in a couple of online news articles!

After the press conference, Karen introduced us all to Rep. Maloney who was absolutely a pleasure to speak with. And then, my big moment, Julia introduced me to Ellie Smeal. I died. I went to the National Young Women’s Leadership Conference in March hosted by the Feminist Majority and absolutely fell in love with Ellie’s enthusiasm, passion, and dedication to the women’s movement; she is truly captivating and inspiring. I was honored to meet her and was so excited when I got to stand next to her during the photo op. It was such a great experience today, being surrounded by the very people who push this movement forward, the movement that I have now become so passionate about and actually an active part of. These women (and men!) are so dedicated and have been a true inspiration to me and, I’m sure, many others in my generation.

All of the excitement of the day ended with lunch at Bullfeathers just off the hill. It was fun to talk about and sum up the mornings events. All and all, it was a great morning out with the girls from the office, as inspiring as it was exciting. I love this job!

Written by: Maggie Skelton