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2002 National NOW Conference Resolutions


2002 ELECTIONS

2002

WHEREAS, the advancement of the feminist agenda through electoral activity is of paramount importance in an election year when the executive branch is controlled by the radical right, the conservative Dennis Hastert serves as Speaker of the House of Representatives, and Democrats retain control of the Senate by one vote; and
WHEREAS, the Bush administration has pushed its anti-woman reproductive rights agenda through a multi-pronged strategy of executive orders, congressional action, and the nomination of the right-wing judges to the federal bench; and
WHEREAS, if Republicans retain control of the House and take back the Senate we can expect more radical legislation eroding our rights in addition to the loss of the 5 to 4 majority preserving basic abortion rights in the Supreme Court; and
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that NOW recommend to the NOW PACs that they support our incumbent friends who are being relentlessly targeted by the right wing and work to protect their seats even as they also work to elect the wonderful new feminist candidates challenging our political enemies throughout the country or running for open seats, as well as the record number of feminist candidates running for governor.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that NOW recommend to all NOW PACs that they make electoral work a priority from now until November and work to elect new feminist candidates to all levels of political office as well as working zealously to bring our incumbent friends essential reinforcements.
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that NOW urge NOW PAC to target races throughout the nation that could make the greatest impact on the balance of power in both the U.S. Senate and House and recruit and encourage NOW activists to "change our lives" to go to volunteer or work in those targeted fall campaigns.

ACCESSIBLE NOW CONFERENCES, FORUMS, SUMMITS AND NATIONAL BOARD MEETINGS

2002

WHEREAS, the National Organization for Women (NOW) is an inclusive organization that seeks to maximize participation of and equality for feminists in its events; and
WHEREAS, feminists with disabilities have taken a leadership role in NOW throughout the years; and
WHEREAS, accessibility is essential to enable full participation by feminists with disabilities at NOW conferences, forums, summits and national board meetings; and
WHEREAS, accessibility at public accommodations at which NOW conferences have been held in the past have presented issues of concern for some people with disabilities;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Disability Rights Conference Implementation Committee (CIC) shall assist the National Action Center in developing an "Accessibility Check List" to be used for site inspections before any conference-, forum-, summit- or national board meeting-facility location is chosen; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that this "Accessibility Checklist" shall be appended to any contract with a facility at which a conference, forum, summit or national board meeting is held and shall become an essential part of such contract; and
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that each such facility shall be inspected by a member of the executive committee or their designee, in consultation with the Disability Rights CIC, to ensure that the facility meets the accessibility requirements of the "Accessibility Checklist" before NOW enters into a contract with any such facility.

ADDRESSING SEXUAL ABUSE BY THE ROMAN CATHOLIC HIERARCHY

2002

WHEREAS, many members of the Roman Catholic hierarchy—its priests, bishops, and cardinals—have committed numerous grievous acts of sexual abuse against women, men and children with callous disregard for the victims; and
WHEREAS, the Roman Catholic hierarchy has engaged in a pattern of cover-ups that involve the awarding of vast sums of hush money and moving priests and bishops from parish to parish and diocese to diocese to avoid detection or scandal; and
WHEREAS, the Roman Catholic hierarchy's heinous acts of sexual abuse and violence and pattern of cover-ups have occurred not only in the United States but worldwide in many countries of Europe, Africa, Central and South America, and Asia, as well as in Australia; and
WHEREAS, the Roman Catholic hierarchy's outrageous and hypocritical behavior has even included the impregnation of young nuns and the arrangement of illegal botched abortions for these nuns, as well as, in at least one instance, the performance of the funeral mass for a victim by the perpetrator, as reported by nuns in various countries of Africa; and
WHEREAS, the Roman Catholic hierarchy has proclaimed for itself a higher moral authority and on the basis of that moral authority has influenced public policy to restrict access (with callous disregard for the pain, suffering, and death of countless people) to all methods of effective family planning, birth control, and abortion and to cut off access to condoms despite the horrific AIDS pandemic; and
WHEREAS, some 40% of sexual abuse cases caused by the hierarchy are thrown out of court because of the statute of limitations; and
WHEREAS, the Roman Catholic hierarchy has lobbied to narrow the statute of limitations state by state; and
WHEREAS, these acts involve criminal behavior and the irresponsible spending of vast amounts of charitable monies;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the National Organization for Women (NOW) commends the Boston Globe for its courageous coverage of Cardinal Bernard Law and the scandal in Boston, which helped to expose to all Americans these heinous acts and patterns of wrongful behavior, as well as the courageous attorneys, especially Jeffrey Anderson of St. Paul, MN, who have not only litigated against church officials on behalf of victims of church abuse but also filed RICO [racketeering] lawsuits against the hierarchy, including the Vatican; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that NOW commends the various state and county prosecutors who are pursuing perpetrators of these criminal acts; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that NOW calls for political leaders to take a courageous stand by initiating hearings at the local, state, and national levels to determine if any of the billions of dollars of public monies that have been awarded to the Roman Catholic church or other religious institutions for charitable activities on behalf of orphans, foster care, adoption, child care, health care, and other social services have been used for hush money, cover-up, or other illicit activities in connection with this abusive and criminal behavior; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that NOW work to extend or eliminate the criminal and civil statute of limitation in sexual abuse cases, especially those involving minors, so that both perpetrators and institutions are brought to justice and the laws of our states and nation protect victims in both civil and criminal cases; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that NOW oppose secrecy agreements in settlements in these cases which protect the perpetrator and the institution engaged in the cover-up, as against public policy; and
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that members of the clergy should be legally mandated to report incidents of sexual abuse to police or appropriate public authorities.

ADVANCEMENT OF MEDICAL RESEARCH

2002

WHEREAS, the United States has been a leader in scientific and other research for the past 50 years; and
WHEREAS, the Bush Administration and some members of Congress are actively seeking to slow and/or stop advancements in medical research with regard to the use of embryos, embryonic stem cells, and fetal tissue, despite the fact that according to a May 2002 poll (Caravan, Inc.) 68 percent of the American public supports therapeutic cloning; and
WHEREAS, the leading opponents of such research are the anti-abortionists and right-wing religious extremists; and
WHEREAS, scientific and medical research using embryos, embryonic stem cells, and fetal tissue could lead to treatments and cures for Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, spinal cord injuries, diabetes, spina bifida, and a host of other diseases and conditions; and
WHEREAS, the National Organization for Women (NOW) has traditionally supported a woman's right to govern her own body without interference and has supported health initiatives that benefit women;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that NOW will actively support research in the areas of therapeutic cloning using embryonic stem cells, the use of embryonic and fetal tissues, and somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) as well as federal funding for such research.

AFGHAN WOMEN AND GIRLS

2002

WHEREAS, the women and girls of Afghanistan have suffered from years of gender apartheid and oppression under the totalitarian regime of the Taliban and, before them, the Mujahideen; and
WHEREAS, the United States, in a CIA covert-operation, trained and funded the Mujahideen ("Soldiers of God") to fight the Soviets in the last battle of the Cold War; and
WHEREAS, the Taliban was a faction of the Mujahideen that was initially supported by the United States; and
WHEREAS, the Afghan Ministry for Women's Affairs and the Afghan-women-led non- governmental organizations (NGOs) desperately need funding to rebuild women's lives and the Afghan nation; and
WHEREAS, the United States has a moral obligation to help restore Afghanistan; and
WHEREAS, the United States has a global interest to end the conditions that breed terrorism; and
WHEREAS, U.S. foreign policy must support human and women's rights as well as democracy;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the United States should support an expansion in the number and the jurisdiction of international peacekeeping forces throughout Afghanistan; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the United States should increase its funding for women-led Afghan NGOs; and
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that the United States should actively promote the full restoration of women's and girls' rights in Afghanistan and throughout the world.

CAMPAIGN FOR JUDICIAL JUSTICE

2002

WHEREAS, the goal of the Bush administration is to fundamentally mold the judicial system to reflect its right-wing ideology; and
WHEREAS, the Republican-led Senate during the Clinton administration held up the confirmation process through the Judiciary Committee's reluctance to hold hearings on President Clinton's nominees to various branches of the judiciary; and
WHEREAS, the Democratic leadership in the Senate has set goals for themselves to confirm judicial nominees presented to them and is responding to the pressure to hold hearings; and
WHEREAS, conservative judges now control 8 of the 13 Circuit Court of Appeals and if every one of Bush's pending judicial nominees is confirmed, right-wing, extreme ideologues will control 11 of the 13 federal circuits; and
WHEREAS, our rights are increasingly under attack by the Ashcroft led Justice Department, and appeals to the Federal District and Appellate Courts will not be considered by impartial judges if our courts continued to be stacked; and
WHEREAS, many decisions are and will continue to be made at the federal court level and will not reach the Supreme Court;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the National Organization for Women (NOW) declare a Judicial Justice State of Emergency; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that NOW further develop and coordinate a multifaceted campaign; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that this campaign may include any or all of the following: petition and post card drives, action kits, leafleting, lobbying locally and in Washington, D.C., a demonstration in D.C., electronic organizing by list serve and web site, and activist seminars at all levels of NOW; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the National Organization for Women (NOW) oppose each and every nominee to the Federal Courts who opposes civil rights, through an vigorous, on-going judicial justice campaign; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that NOW call on the Democratic Senate leadership, in particular the Senate Judiciary Committee, to thoroughly examine and expose each nominee's record and allow organizations and individuals to offer testimony on each nominee at publicly held hearings; and
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that NOW vigorously oppose the entire parade of right-wing extremists nominated to the federal bench as a whole and work to expose the Bush plan for complete domination of the federal judiciary, including the Supreme Court.

LEGISLATIVE LANGUAGE TO INCLUDE TRANSGENDER PEOPLE

2002

WHEREAS, the National Organization for Women (NOW) has a policy on combating oppression of transgender people; and
WHEREAS, the 2002 version of the Local Law Enforcement Act currently in Congress, also known as the Hate Crimes Bill, does not include protection for transgender people or the terms "sex" or "gender identity and/or expression";
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the National Organization for Women advocate and work for the inclusion of "sex, transgender people, and gender identity and/or expression" as protected categories in legislation currently in Congress, specifically the Local Law Enforcement Act, and in future legislation protecting civil rights.

OPPOSITION TO THE OPPORTUNISTIC USE OF "WAR" ON TERROR

2002

WHEREAS, the tragedies of September 11, 2001, alerted us to the urgent need to re-examine the worldwide impact of U.S. foreign policy and global economic policy; and
WHEREAS, the Bush administration is exploiting the international attacks on the U.S. to advance a right-wing political agenda that expands the campaign of militarism and corporate profit that contributed to the anti-American feelings at the heart of these terrifying events; and
WHEREAS, the agenda of the Bush administration is marked by enormous increases in defense spending that displace funds from domestic social services and the nation's healthcare safety net to support a large-scale military deployment and protracted military engagement abroad; and
WHEREAS, further U.S. military aggression in the Middle East will only exacerbate the plight of women and children in these countries where U.S. foreign policy has already contributed to their oppression and destitution; and
WHEREAS, the use of military aggression will surely lead to more senseless loss of innocent lives and aggravate anti-American sentiment around the world; and
WHEREAS, the "war" on terror perpetuates the tradition of U.S. disregard for international law, as well as internationally accepted standards for human rights (such as the Declaration of Human Rights and CEDAW); and
WHEREAS, women always bear additional personal costs in patriarchal wars that ruin their country's physical infrastructure, destabilize their economies, destroy their homes, and kill and maim their children and families; and
WHEREAS, the draconian homeland defense policies promoted by the Bush administration, and already enacted by Congress in the form of the Patriot Act, are designed in part to stifle political dissent; and
WHEREAS, political dissent and the questioning of power are expressions of the values we promote as feminists and claim to hold as a country;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the National Organization for Women (NOW) opposes the opportunistic use of fighting terrorism as an excuse for massive imperial expansion, for a war on Iraq, and for the continuation of unilateral policies in violation of international law.

PROMOTE CHILDCARE/EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION AND PAID LEAVE

2002

WHEREAS, childcare and early childhood education programs are important social responsibilities and need to be broadly supported by traditional sources of tax revenues and with provision of services through an accountable system of public control; and
WHEREAS, there exists a decades-old crisis in the availability of affordable, high-quality childcare/early childhood education (ECE) programs, and government officials have failed to allocate sufficient funding to subsidize the high costs of care and instruction; and
WHEREAS, because a majority of parents—even those with children under six—are now in the paid workforce, the need for services is acute and the demand for after-school care, summer programs, and also evening and early morning care has increased; and
WHEREAS, parents who would like to obtain leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act are not able to do so because they must take the leave without pay; and
WHEREAS, studies show that early childhood education beginning at least at age three for disadvantaged children is essential to their learning-readiness at kindergarten and first grade and that universal pre-K programs will assist these children to become productive adults and will reduce poverty; and
WHEREAS, the challenges include low pay and frequent turnover of childcare workers; lack of access by workers to training and education; lack of high quality, enforceable health and safety standards; and inadequate tax base of inner cities and rural areas to support comprehensive programs of childcare and early childhood education;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the National Organization for Women (NOW) seek external funding to initiate a national campaign to
1) make early childhood education programs universally available through our public education systems in all states and the District of Columbia,
2) pass legislation that would require the federal government to assist states and local school districts in expanding the public systems to offer ECE and full day kindergarten and
3) increase federal funding, with state and local contributions, to allocate at least $25 billion in additional funds annually for the Childcare and Block Grant Development program, Head Start, Infant Head Start, and Social Service block grants;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that NOW advocate for legislation providing government-assisted benefits in the form of refundable tax credits for parents who stay home to care for children or sick relatives; and
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that NOW continue to work for passage of legislation to increase pay and expand training opportunities for childcare workers and for expansion of the Family and Medical Leave Act to lower the threshold to 25 employees per affected business, to increase covered leave time, and to require that states incorporate the FMLA in their Unemployment Compensation (UI) programs so that workers taking leave may continue to receive part of their salaries.

RATIFICATION OF CEDAW TREATY AND PROMOTION OF LOCAL CEDAWS

2002

WHEREAS, the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) is the only international agreement that comprehensively addresses the full equality of women in all areas; and
WHEREAS, CEDAW was signed by President Jimmy Carter in 1980 but still has not been ratified by the United States because the Senate has failed to act, leaving this country alone in this position among industrialized countries and in the company of Afghanistan, Iran, and Somalia; and
WHEREAS, ratification of CEDAW and full implementation of its principles without any limiting "reservations, declarations and understandings" will improve the economic status of women, make progress toward the elimination of violence against women, and advance the equal treatment of women in the United States; and
WHEREAS, the city of San Francisco has adopted an ordinance patterned after CEDAW that commits the city to "work toward integrating gender equity and human rights principles into all of its operations, including policy, program and budgetary decision-making," and similar efforts are underway in other cities; and
WHEREAS, the composition of the U. S. Senate Foreign Relations committee has changed;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the National Organization for Women (NOW) continue to urge the United States Senate to immediately act to ratify CEDAW and implement its principles without limiting reservations, declarations, and understandings; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that NOW chapters be urged to renew efforts to schedule meetings with their senators while they are in their home states to encourage those senators to support ratification of CEDAW; and
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that NOW take additional steps to encourage chapter efforts to promote the enactment of local CEDAW-type ordinances and that the National Action Center make information about local CEDAWs available to interested chapters.

REDUCE THE POVERTY, NOT JUST THE ROLLS

2002

WHEREAS, the 1996 version of so-called "welfare reform," Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), contained punitive measures burdening women and their families and has failed to address the core causes of poverty; and
WHEREAS, while states' welfare rolls have declined in the past five years, incomes of poor families, in general, have not increased to a level that allows families to cover vital expenses such as food, housing, health care services, transportation, and child care; and
WHEREAS, poverty's causes include systematic discrimination and exploitation of low-income workers as well as a lack of:
(1) adequate education and training;
(2) fair opportunities for non-discriminatory jobs that pay a living wage;
(3) quality, affordable child care and other supports such as transportation, affordable housing, and health insurance;
(4) services for persons with barriers to self-sufficiency such as family violence, disability, and substance abuse; and
WHEREAS, the TANF-reauthorization proposals now before Congress make TANF even harsher than the 1996 law and fail to provide adequate funding for a successful anti-poverty effort. Instead, they divert hundreds of millions of dollars from already underfunded programs for TANF families to (1) so-called "healthy marriage" promotion schemes, which may discriminate against non-traditional families and may pressure women into entering into or remaining in abusive relationships, and (2) programs for low-income, non-custodial fathers (fatherhood initiatives), which should not be funded at the expense of low-income parents and children served by or eligible for TANF; and
WHEREAS, Congress is now preparing to reauthorize TANF with even harsher provisions, ignoring the lessons learned from poor families' experiences since 1996;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the National Organization for Women (NOW) call on Congress to include the following provisions, at a minimum, in TANF reauthorization:
  1. Ending lifetime limitations on TANF benefits and removing of caps on education and training;
  2. Full childcare funding for every eligible family, increasing federal funding to a level of at least $17 billion for the five years;
  3. Maintaining the work requirement at 30 hours per week and counting as work a recipient's participation in educational programs (including vocational, post-secondary, GED, ESL and literacy programs) as well as in other activities that help overcome barriers such as domestic violence, substance abuse, and physical and mental impairment;
  4. Rejecting efforts to divert money from already underfunded TANF programs serving families to marriage promotion and fatherhood initiatives;
  5. Making the family violence option a permanent, mandatory requirement for states;
  6. Immediately restoring TANF benefits and food stamps to legal immigrants and their dependents;
  7. Encouraging states to ensure that families' incomes equal at least 120 percent of the poverty level before halting cash assistance, in order to produce family economic stability.
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that NOW chapters be urged to raise the level of action on this issue by immediately and repeatedly contacting members of Congress.

STRUCTURAL REVIEW

2002

WHEREAS, as a follow-up to the adoption by the National Organization for Women (NOW) of a new vision statement (the "Declaration of Sentiments for the 21st Century") at the 1998 National NOW Vision Summit in Rochester, NY, the NOW National Board of Directors in September 2000 passed a resolution entitled "A Process for Structural Review," which created a Structural Review Task Force to review NOW's structure; and
WHEREAS, in reviewing the structure of NOW including a consideration of chapters, states, regions, Conference Implementation Committees (CIC), the national board, the officers, and the Action Center as well as the bylaws, processes, procedures, practices, and policies, the task force has developed a questionnaire and mailed it to chapters, states, and regions, distributed it at state conferences and council meetings, and circulated it at the 2001 National NOW Conference in Philadelphia where two workshops were held for the purpose of gathering additional information via small groups; and
WHEREAS, the task force has conducted two forums at the 2002 National NOW Conference in St. Paul and will complete a report of recommendations for changes to NOW's structure by January 2003 and present it for review and approval to the NOW board at the first board meeting of that year; and WHEREAS, review of NOW's structure requires ample time for discussion and debate among the NOW membership;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that Sunday, July 13, 2003, at the 2003 National NOW Conference in Arlington, VA, be devoted exclusively to resolutions and bylaws affecting NOW's structure, provided that resolutions responding to emergencies (such as a vacancy on the Supreme Court) may also be considered, provided that such emerging resolutions come out of issue hearings.

TITLE IX: THE PLAYING FIELD ISN'T LEVEL YET

2002

WHEREAS, June 23, 2002, marks the 30th anniversary of the enactment of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibiting sex discrimination in education; and
WHEREAS, girls and women have made great strides in achieving educational equality since the enactment of Title IX; and
WHEREAS, despite these gains, girls and women continue to face inequality at all levels of education as detailed in the National Coalition for Women and Girls in Education's report, "Title IX at 30: Report Card on Gender Equity;" and
WHEREAS, women's and girls' athletics programs continue to receive fewer resources than men's and boys'; vocational and technical programs continue to be highly sex-segregated and to steer students into sex-stereotyped occupations (e.g., girls to cosmetology, boys to computer science); sexual harassment continues at colleges, high schools, middle schools and even elementary schools; and women and girls of color as well as women and girls with disabilities continue to face multiple barriers to equality in their schools, colleges and universities; and
WHEREAS, because private enforcement of Title IX is prohibitively expensive, targets of discrimination must, as a practical matter, rely on the federal Office of Civil Rights (OCR) to investigate and take legal action against schools that discriminate; and
WHEREAS, the 10 OCR regions around the country have shown significant disparity in their levels of Title IX enforcement; and
WHEREAS, the Bush administration has already indicated its hostility to Title IX by pushing for a return to sex-segregated schools with the justification that boys can't concentrate if girls are in the room and girls can't become leaders in coeducational settings, and has emboldened right-wing opponents of Title IX to intensify their pressure to dismantle the gains we have made for educational equality;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the National Organization for Women (NOW) calls on the Bush administration, in particular the Department of Education, to stop its assault on Title IX, and to enhance rather than weaken the Title IX regulations and the enforcement of Title IX's promise of educational equality; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that NOW call on OCR to step up enforcement of Title IX in each of its regional offices; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that NOW chapter and state activists are encouraged to call their local school boards asking for the name of the school board's chief Title IX enforcement officer as well as copies of Title IX compliance reports, and to file complaints with OCR if the reports show violations of Title IX; and
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that the National NOW Action Center devote a prominent section on its web site to Title IX, including information such as how to file a Title IX complaint with OCR, Title IX fact sheets, links to research and other resources, and action ideas for chapters and states.

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