Joining people around the country, a small group of people gathered at WKFL Park over the weekend to commemorate the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and protest swift action being taken to replace her on the U.S. Supreme Court.
About 50 people — spaced out and wearing face coverings — assembled at the park on Saturday for a Homer Women’s Rally. The event coincided with iterations of the annual Women’s March that were held across the country on Saturday. The march was originally held the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration in 2017.
The events were held to protest moves by Republican senators to fill Ginsburg’s seat on the court quickly by confirming nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett. Four speakers at Saturday’s rally in Homer spoke about access to health care for women and many of the rights women enjoy today that Ginsburg had a hand in crafting during her time as a lawyer and a judge. They said that access to health care and those rights would be endangered if Barrett were confirmed to the Supreme Court.
Julia Person spoke as someone who was around in the 1970s when Ginsburg worked as a litigator with the American Civil Liberties Union.
“I know that I could not have a loan in my own name,” Person said. “I could not have a credit card in my own name, because at that time the law said that the man was the bread winner and that all financial decisions were based on the man’s income. Obviously, that’s changed.”
Person said laws that were in place back then had a “narrow view” of gender roles and how decisions about assets and family wealth could be made.
“So in 1974 the Equal Credit Opportunity Act banned such discrimination, and she (Ginsburg) paved the way for that legislation,” she said.
Irene Sexton, a provider at Full Spectrum Health, said access to women’s reproductive care like Intrauterine Insemination and in vitro fertilization, are what allowed Sexton to pursue a family of her own as a queer woman. She spoke with one of her two children beside her. Sexton emphasized the importance of protecting LGBTQ rights.
“The Trump administration has constantly undermined the movement for LGBTQ+ rights,” Sexton said. “Over the past four years they have opposed the Equality Act, implemented a ban on transgender service members and engaged in consistent efforts to cut back civil rights protections in housing, education and the work place. If Amy Coney Barrett is confirmed to the Supreme Court, all of the sleepless nights that Ruth Bader Ginsburg spent to ensure that the rights of women and LGBTQ+ individuals will be for naught.”
Catriona Reynolds, executive director of Kachemak Bay Family Planning Clinic, spoke remotely via telephone. She emphasized the importance of voting in the November election. Reynolds talked about the values of the clinic, to provide an empowering, accessible, inclusive space. She said these are values for the entire community as well.
“And each one of those values is currently at risk of backsliding,” Reynolds said.
Alex Koplin is a member of Kenai Peninsula Votes, a nonpartisan group focused on election education and increasing voter turnout. He spoke specifically to the importance of voting and gave listeners tips for this election season.
“In my truth of truths, I believe that if women were in charge, we wouldn’t be in the world we are in today,” Koplin said. “It would look so different. It saddens me that we still deal with issues of discrimination toward women on a daily basis.”
Koplin spoke about voting early, either through absentee in-person or through the mail. He told the crowd about how they can check on the status of their ballots, and whether they have been received, through the Alaska Division of Elections.
“But then, I went a step further and I called the division to make sure that it was accepted,” Koplin said. “It’s one thing to have turned it in, it’s another thing to check if you have had no errors.”
Following the speakers, there was an open mic opportunity in which members of the crowd spoke about Ginsburg, the importance of voting, and their views on the current Supreme Court nomination and confirmation process.