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1995 National NOW Conference Resolutions

CONSTITUTIONAL EQUALITY FOR ALL WOMEN

WHEREAS, the National Organization for Women (NOW) is staunchly committed to constitutional equality for all women; and

WHEREAS, the recent pointed attacks on affirmative action, welfare, health care, lesbian and gay rights, and reproductive rights, led by Congress, serve as a stark reminder that legislative action alone will never ensure equality; and

WHEREAS, an effective Constitutional strategy requires a broad-based coalition of activists from diverse communities and organizations;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the National Organization for Women (NOW) adopt the following as a working draft:

1) Women and men shall have equal rights throughout the United States and every place and entity subject to its jurisdiction; through this article, the subordination of women to men is abolished;

2) All persons shall have equal rights and privileges without discrimination on account of sex, race, sexual orientation, marital status, ethnicity, national origin, color and indigence;

3) This article prohibits pregnancy discrimination and guarantees the absolute right of a woman to make her own reproductive decisions including the termination of pregnancy;

4) This article prohibits discrimination based upon characteristics unique to, or stereotypes about any class protected under this article. This article also prohibits discrimination through the use of any facially neutral criteria which have a disparate impact based on membership in a class protected under this article;

5) This article does not preclude any law, program or activity that would remedy the effects of discrimination and that is closely related to achieving such remedial purpose;

6) This article shall be interpreted under the highest standard of judicial review;

7) The United States and the several states shall guarantee the implementation and enforcement of this article; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that by January 1, 1996 NOW will prepare and distribute to all of its units educational materials and action-organizing kits on this inclusive constitutional equality amendment;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that NOW will convene meetings with historic allies and other progressive groups who have a stake in an inclusive equality amendment, to develop and forward a shared progressive agenda through 1996 election strategies and to discuss the amendment and a long range constitutional strategy; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that NOW hold day-long education/action training sessions on the equality amendment to be held in geographically diverse areas in conjunction with the regularly scheduled NOW National Board meetings over the next two years; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that an ad hoc committee, on the model of the NOW Legislative Intent Committee, be appointed to study, analyze, and formulate appropriate constitutional language to include people with disabilities and age within the constitutional protections of "A WOMAN'S EQUALITY AMENDMENT" and that such committee submit recommendations to the National NOW Board to be transmitted to the NOW leadership by the 1996 National NOW Conference and that such proposals be slated for discussion at a constitutional strategies hearing at that Conference; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that NOW urges the National PAC to create specific endorsement guidelines to help assess candidates' positions on the equality amendment.


ECONOMIC JUSTICE AND EQUAL OPPORTUNITY:NOW'S COMMITMENT TO AFFIRMATIVE ACTION

WHEREAS, white men comprise 33 percent of the population and 43 percent of the workforce; and

WHEREAS, all women together with men of color hold only 3-5 percent of senior management jobs, 1-2 percent of the jobs in construction, approximately 9 percent of all federal judgeships, 11 percent of the seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, 8 percent of the seats in the United States Senate, and only .2 percent of positions as Fortune 500 CEO's; and

WHEREAS, women and people of color are disproportionately among the poor, unemployed and underemployed; and affirmative action programs and policies have in the past assisted many women and people of color to gain entry into the workplace and educational institutions; and

WHEREAS, racism and sexism still limit the promise of equal access to all job opportunities; and

WHEREAS, so-called "reverse discrimination" is a concept which was invented to attack affirmative action and divide women and people of color from the rest of the population;

WHEREAS, the cynical rhetoric of political leaders trades on hate and division when attacking affirmative action and establishes a climate in which attacks on women are commonplace and acceptable; and

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the National Organization for Women (NOW) fully support the maintenance and expansion of affirmative action programs and policies in employment and education; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that NOW provide concrete educational materials to dispel the myths about affirmative action; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that NOW continue to develop on-going strategies for mobilizing at the chapter, state and national levels to end the attacks on affirmative action and strengthen enforcement of all related laws and regulations. Strategies should include actions such as: holding educational forums on issues of economic justice and affirmative action; mobilizing local activists against punitive measures; meeting with media representatives and editorial boards to discuss the truths and myths of affirmative action and providing materials to assist in a balanced and accurate presentation of issues around affirmative action; working in coalition with a broad range of organizations affected by the current attacks; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that NOW urge the NOW Political Action Committee (PAC) and all local NOW PACs to withhold endorsement, recommendation or support of any kind from any candidate for political office who does not support affirmative action policies and programs; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that National NOW work with all sub-units to implement these strategies in order to influence public opinion and the shape local, state and federal policies.


BIRTH CONTROL IN SECONDARY SCHOOLS

WHEREAS, it is difficult, if not impossible, for women and men to have access to birth control, especially condoms, within secondary schools; and

WHEREAS, it is also difficult to obtain information about reproductive services in the community;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the National Organization for Women (NOW) actively campaign for the distribution of condoms, lists of community resources, and safer sex information in secondary schools.


AFFIRMATIVE ACTION FOR CHAPTERS

WHEREAS, the elimination of racism is one of the National Organization for Women's (NOW) priority issues and the establishment and cultivation of an affirmative action policy within each chapter is essential to the success of achieving an inclusive and diverse organization; and

WHEREAS, Affirmative Action has recently been propelled into the forefront of our National consciousness as a wedge issue by the Republican Party meant to de-value women and minorities; and

WHEREAS, NOW recognizes that to be truly effective and honest in our fight to defend Affirmative Action, we must "walk the walk" and encourage chapters to incorporate an effective Affirmative Action plan within their own structure; and

WHEREAS, NOW believes that until the many faces of feminism are reflected in our membership, there can be no true equality;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that National NOW develop and promote an Affirmative Action Guide for chapters designed to educate and encourage chapters regarding the value of diversity and to provide the necessary resource materials and assistance needed to create such a program; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that this guide be compiled with assistance from the National Board, the Racial Diversity Director, the Affirmative Action Conference Implementation Committee, and any other appropriate NOW entities; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that this guide include a format that stresses the importance of internal membership education prior to any recruitment campaign and that tools such as Consciousness-Raising be strongly encouraged; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that to ensure awareness of such a guide, all chapters be mailed one free issue of the guide after its initial creation and that subsequent reminders of its availability be included in leadership mailings on a regular basis; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that NOW develop a diversity questionnaire to be mailed annually to chapters for the dual purpose of monitoring successful models and sharing those models with all chapters; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that the Affirmative Action guide include sample affirmative action bylaws in order to facilitate such a policy.


CREATING THE FEMINIST GENDER GAP

WHEREAS, the right-wing control in Congress, state legislatures, and local boards have moved forward an agenda that is anti-feminist and anti-civil rights and the National Organization for Women (NOW) recognizes the wide array of attacks on womens equality as part of a right- wing campaign; and

WHEREAS, it is recognized that a gender gap in the 1996 elections could result in major electoral change at all levels of government and that NOW has played a leading role in motivating and organizing the womens vote in recent election years and has the opportunity to win major feminist races in 1996; and

WHEREAS, the right-wing in California has been most aggressive nationwide in attacking affirmative action, and the role of women in the debate is being shaped now; and

WHEREAS, NOW, historically, has taken national leadership in the fight for affirmative action, and can play a decisive role in generating the feminist response to the right-wing attack; and

WHEREAS, presidential candidate Pete Wilson (Governor-CA) has made the abolition of affirmative action the centerpiece of his campaign and the myth continues to be perpetuated that the Wilson campaign is appealing to women; and

WHEREAS, House Speaker Newt Gingrich is the engine driving the right-wing agenda in races nationwide; and

WHEREAS, the Republican National Convention is scheduled to be in California where the platform is expected to include dismantling affirmative action and other equal opportunity programs, a constitutional ban on abortion, and other anti-feminist positions;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that NOW sponsor a national mobilization in California in 1996; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that NOW simultaneously coordinate a national Fight-the-Right electoral campaign; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that NOW adopt "Shadow Wilson" and "Newt Watch" campaigns, so that wherever presidential candidate Pete Wilson and House Speaker Newt Gingrich campaign across the country, they will be met with actions and demonstrations regarding their open hostility to womens equality, and will coordinate other candidate watch campaigns, such as campaigns against Dole and Gramm and others, as necessary; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that NOW conduct a national campaign to beat the anticipated anti-affirmative action ballot initiative in California and other states where it may arise, and to defeat anti-affirmative action legislation in the Congress.


DISABILITY RIGHTS EDUCATION

WHEREAS, the National Organization for Women (NOW) has a long-standing commitment to diversity which involves individuals from all walks of life, levels of educations, and physical and mental abilities; and

WHEREAS, NOW strives to provide services for and be inclusive of all its members, including those individuals with disabilities; and

WHEREAS, NOW passed a resolution in 1978 that resolved that all future National and State NOW meetings provide barrier-free facilities, assistance for the blind, and interpreters for the deaf; and

WHEREAS, NOW passed a resolution in 1992 that the National Disabilities Conference Implementation Committee (CIC) educate NOW members about these issues; and

WHEREAS, the National Organization for Women (NOW) has historically made efforts to address affirmative action issues.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the National NOW Board devote at least one hour to a presentation and dialogue on disability rights and accessibility at a National Board meeting at least once every two years; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that a presentation and dialogue on disability rights and accessibility be included during the 1996 regional NOW conferences or in an alternate forum; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that states be encouraged to provide a plenary session training on disability rights and accessibility during their annual conferences, and information on disability rights and accessibility be published in an all-member mailing at least annually; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that there be a Disability Rights Issues hearing held during each national conference.


ELECTORAL POLITICS

WHEREAS, the 104th Congress, state legislatures, and other governmental entities are poised to roll back decades of progress on womens rights; and

WHEREAS, the 1996 elections represent an opportunity for women to elect state, local, and national officers who will preserve and advance our rights; and

WHEREAS, filling the political pipelines with feminists will result in a proactive feminist agenda such as the Equal Rights Amendment; and

WHEREAS, women historically have been excluded and discouraged from participating in the electoral process;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the National Organization for Women (NOW) urge all NOW Political Action Committees to launch campaigns to elect feminist women to fill up the political pipeline at all levels of state, local, and federal government; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that NOW renew its campaign to educate and mobilize our members to be involved in the electoral process, including targeted voter registration, involvement in political parties and campaigns, and independent efforts to raise womens issues through the electoral process.


EQUALITY OPPORTUNITIES IN EDUCATION

WHEREAS, publicly-funded educational institutions still spend twice as much money on sports programs for young men as on sports programs for young women; and

WHEREAS, conservatives in the U.S. Congress are attempting to eliminate or scale back enforcement of Title IX, the federal law that bans gender discrimination in federally-funded educational programs including athletics; and

WHEREAS, state-funded military academies in at least two states are attempting to bar young women from joining their ranks by setting up separate, unequal programs at other schools; and

WHEREAS, state governments are lending financial, legal and logistical support to these efforts to exclude women from an equal opportunity at military academies; and

WHEREAS, local school boards in several cities around the country are experimenting with single sex schools and classrooms as an inappropriate means to address the sexism young women and girls face in classrooms from male students and teachers who interrupt, ridicule or sexually harass them;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the National Organization for Women (NOW) continue its historic support for equal opportunities in education for women and girls; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that NOW step up its campaigns in support of Title IX, affirmative action and a long-term constitutional strategy to guarantee womens equality; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that NOW activists at all levels -- local chapters, state organizations and the National Action Center -- track these issues, hold local actions to draw attention to them and do electoral and political work with candidates who support equal educational opportunities for women and girls; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that NOW develop resources for educators to aid them in developing equitable educational skills; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that NOW, in conjunction with the Young Feminist Conference Implementation Committee and staff designated to work with young feminists issues, develop strategies and programs to assist young people to combat sexism in their school environment.


PREPARING FOR FEMINIST RADIO STATIONS AND THE NOW FEMINIST CABLE TV CHANNEL

WHEREAS, women, and men of color, are unfairly covered in the media; and

WHEREAS, women, and men of color, need a media vehicle to air their views and perspectives; and

WHEREAS, we have a need to compete with the "religious right" media which reaches millions of voters and raises millions of dollars;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that NOW sub-units visualize, brainstorm and prepare in any way they deem feasible to ready themselves to make feminist radio stations and cable TV channels a reality as soon as possible; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that NOW members use as inspiration the start-up of Black Entertainment Television (BET) (which started ten years ago with about $10,000), and explore ways to raise the necessary money; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Media and Communication Committee of the National Board take the lead in helping this dream become a reality; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that an Issues Hearing on Media and Communications be considered for future National Conferences.


1996 SUMMER OLYMPIC RESOLUTION

WHEREAS, the National Organization for Women (NOW) fought for the passage of Title IX in 1972 and has continued to pressure the courts to enforce Title IX since 1978; and

WHEREAS, today over twice as many males as females participate in athletics sponsored by educational institutions despite increased opportunities in the last 25 years; and

WHEREAS, the percentage of women in leadership positions in athletics has decreased since 1972; and

WHEREAS, only 28% of the 1992 Summer Olympic athletes were women

and only 36% of the events were open to women; and

WHEREAS, members of Congress and the College Football Association are currently working to dismantle Title IX by changing compliance guidelines;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that National NOW and Atlanta NOW shall hold a celebration event during the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta to salute the achievements of women athletes and to recognize the individuals who worked to pass Title IX in 1972 and those individuals working to maintain opportunities for girls and women in sport in the future; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that NOW shall utilize the 1996 Summer Olympic Celebration to raise awareness of the gross gender inequities in athletics and to mobilize activists in the current federal legislative fight to maintain Title IX regulations.


VAWA ELECTORAL STRATEGY RESOLUTION

WHEREAS, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) passed in the last Congress (421-0 in the House and 94-6 in the Senate) and was signed on September 13, 1994 as part of the Crime Bill; and

WHEREAS, 1.62 billion dollars was allocated to VAWA over six years as part of the Crime Victims Trust Fund; and

WHEREAS, this Trust Fund is in reserve to be used for education and prevention programs as well as community direct services for victims of battery and sexual assault; and

WHEREAS, both Democrats and Republicans vowed to preserve VAWA funds even as they were cutting other Crime Bill programs; and

WHEREAS, both Democrats and Republicans campaigned for re-election heralding their support for the VAWA and their opposition to violence against women; and

WHEREAS, efforts are mounting in Congress to cut VAWA funding and reduce the monies that will be appropriated to fight violence against women.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the National Organization for Women (NOW) will recommend that NOW/PAC use the issue of violence against women in its criteria for endorsement or denying endorsement to any member of Congress or candidate for Congress; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that NOW will recommend to NOW/PAC that they support members of Congress who meet our criteria for electoral support on other issues, who support full VAWA funding and other aspects of the 1994 VAWA as it was authorized; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that NOW work to educate the public on the voting record of Congress on VAWA and the decisions of the PAC.


ERA AND LESBIANS

WHEREAS, the National Organization for Women (NOW) supports full equality for lesbians; and

WHEREAS, lesbians have made significant contributions to the womens rights movement; and

WHEREAS, in the twenty-three years since the Equal Rights Amendment was voted out of Congress, the lesbian and gay rights movement has matured;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Equal Rights Amendment pursued by NOW must specifically include equal rights for everyone regardless of sexual orientation.


MAINE WONT DISCRIMINATE

WHEREAS, in November 1995, the voters of the State of Maine will be voting on the first East Coast "Colorado style" referendum in opposition to lesbian and gay rights; and

WHEREAS, the National Organization for Women (NOW) has a long history of opposition to this kind of oppressive legislation;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that NOW will mobilize in opposition to this right wing effort by:

1. Providing staff support to a field organizing effort in Maine in conjunction with the NOW activists and chapters, students on college campuses and the statewide anti-referendum efforts led by Maine Wont Discriminate;

2. Undertaking targeted fundraising among NOW members in New England to support NOWs efforts; and

3. Making, if feasible, a monetary contribution to the efforts of Maine Wont Discriminate to ensure adequate media in support of the campaign.


YOUNG FEMINISTS AND NOW

WHEREAS, the National Organization for Women (NOW) supports a diverse membership and is committed to continuing the feminist movement; and

WHEREAS, the 1995 Young Feminist Summit showed that young feminists are a large constituency of NOW; and

WHEREAS, an overwhelming number of activists on the mall at the April 9th Rally were young feminists; and

WHEREAS, young women are a necessary part of NOW, contributing time, energy, ideas, and dedication to the feminist movement; and

WHEREAS, young women have particular concerns; and

WHEREAS, young feminist activists need to increase communication in order to network, exchange information, and have a collective voice in NOW;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the National Now Times print no less than two articles, of any length, per issue by and/or about young feminists; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that NOW actively seek out a young feminist membership and encourage young members to run for NOW leadership at local, state, and national levels.

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