Southern Poverty Law Center, Emily’s List Distance Themselves From Women's March Following Controversy

Neither appear on the roster of groups behind this year's Women’s March ■ Linda Sarsour: 'We should have been faster and clearer in helping people understand our values and our commitment to fighting anti-Semitism'

File Photo: Women's March, Washington, D.C., January 2018.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais

A leading U.S. organization fighting bigotry and hate and a high-profile political action committee backing Democratic women are no longer sponsors of the 2019 national Women’s March in Washington, DC this year, after having partnered to support the event in the past.

Neither the Southern Poverty Law Center nor Emily’s List appear on the roster of groups behind the Women’s March published by the organization on Thursday. The list of the sponsors was unveiled ahead of the third annual march set for January 19, an event that has been clouded by controversy over the refusal of three of the March’s co-chairs to clearly denounce Rev. Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam and his anti-Semitic and homophobic positions.

Asked by the Daily Beast about its absence from this year’s list, a spokesperson for the SPLC told the Daily Beast that it had refrained from sponsoring the March because “other projects were a priority.”

>> 'To attend is to agree' with Linda Sarsour on BDS: Why many progressive Jews are turning away from the Women's March ■ The Women’s March anti-Semitism controversy threatening the movement's future | Explained

In the past, the SPLC has designated the Nation of Islam as a hate group: “Bizarre theology of innate black superiority over whites — a belief system vehemently and consistently rejected by mainstream Muslims — and the deeply racist, antisemitic and anti-LGBT rhetoric of its leaders, including top minister Louis Farrakhan, have earned the NOI a prominent position in the ranks of organized hate.”

The Women’s March is clearly aware of the damage that has been done as a results of the controversy, which, anti-March activists say has sharply reduced the number of sponsors of the event.

The Women's March home page features no fewer than three statements released on the matter, the most recent by the March’s co-chair and national organizer Linda Sarsour, admitting that “we should have been faster and clearer in helping people understand our values and our commitment to fighting anti-semitism. We regret that. Every member of our movement matters to us — including our incredible Jewish and LGBTQ members. We are deeply sorry for the harm we have caused, but we see you, we love you, and we are fighting with you.”

FILE PHOTO: Women's March National Co-Chair Linda Sarsour.
Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

Last March, Brooklyn photographer Tali Goldsheft spearheaded a petition aimed at the March’s sponsors, asking that the groups “remove their sponsorship until the organization's current leadership is replaced by leaders who are not affiliated with and do not defend those associated with any organization classified as a hate group.”

The petition, which has gathered over 8,400 signatures, celebrated the decision of SPLC and Emily’s List not to sponsor the March this year, along with the National Council of  Jewish Women and Keshet, an organization advocating for the inclusion of LGBT Jews. The only Jewish groups included on the 2019 list is Jewish Voice for Peace and Bend the Arc: Jewish Partnership for Justice, after a long list backed the march in previous years.

“This follows a number of chapter organizers who have recently disaffiliated, disavowed, and condemned the national leadership, asking them to resign,” an update to the petition said on the day the list was published.

Topping the list of prominent groups continuing to support the march is the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Planned Parenthood and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT.) The list also still includes other major groups like the Democratic National Committee, the League of Women Voters, the National Organization for Women, and the YWCA, together with numerous smaller groups.