NOW Activists Mobilize to "Fight the Right"

by Diane Minor
California NOW Coordinator Elizabeth Toledo leads the charge against an anti-affirmative action ballot measure during a protest in Long Beach.  The protest launched NOW's 1996 Equality Countdown Campaign.  Photo by Jan B. Tucker, Los Angeles Newspaper Guild, Local 69

 A week after nationwide victories in mid-term elections, NOW activists kicked off 1996 political efforts with a protest in Long Beach, Calif.

 NOW's 1995 wins included defeating an anti-lesbian and gay ballot initiative in Maine (see "NOW, Students Defeat Anti-Lesbian/Gay Measure") and winning numerous seats for women in state and local races (See "Women are Winners in `95 Elections").

 At the California protest, NOW activists handed out thousands of informational flyers and were joined by hundreds of allies. These actions during Gov. Pete Wilson's annual conference for women were designed to draw attention to his opposition to affirmative action.

 The protest formally kicked off NOW's Equality Countdown Campaign for the 1996 elections. The campaign aims to defeat oppressive ballot measures -- especially the anti-affirmative action measure in California -- get out the women's vote and elect more feminist women.

 "We are not in this for good government, simply to turn out the vote, but rather to elect people who support our issues," NOW President Patricia Ireland told news reporters at a background news briefing in Washington the day after the election successes. "We are reminding women voters that our jobs and our futures are on the line; our family finances are at risk."

 The Equality Countdown Campaign may be coming soon to your part of the country. It already features plans for at least five major events in different regions.

Fight The Right March

 Just as NOW's 1992 March for Women's Lives launched the "Year of the Woman," the Fight the Right March April 14 in San Francisco will help usher in feminist victories at the polls in '96. We will force the conflict between women's rights and the religious right front and center during the election season. And we will generate the activist force we need to change the faces of power from local school boards to the U.S. Congress.

30th Anniversary Conference

 During this pivotal conference June 28-30 in Las Vegas, on the 30th anniversary of NOW's founding, we will drive home the message that everything we have gained in those 30 years is now at risk. We will draw new inspiration to defend our hard-won gains in education, employment, business and every area of concern for women.

Olympics Organizing

 Our celebration of women in sports July 27 in Atlanta will highlight the accomplishments of women athletes and the importance of defending Title IX, the federal guarantee of equal treatment for girls in education and school sports. We're organizing in Newt Gingrich's backyard -- and we'll make sure he knows we're there. We'll also make sure that the activists we recruit get plugged into the campaign to re-elect our stalwart supporter, Rep. Cynthia McKinney, D-Ga., who has been targeted for defeat by the radical right.

Republican Convention

 Our activists and allies will protest the misogynist platform, policies and politics of the GOP at the Republican convention Aug. 11-16 in San Diego. We'll deliver report cards to Bob Dole and Newt Gingrich and reveal them to the public -- to remind voters that both men have failed to make the grade where women are concerned. Organizing for this "zap action" will help provide a final push for the fall countdown.

Democratic Convention

 We'll observe the anniversary of the Suffrage Amendment with a Women's Equality Reception Aug. 25 during the Democratic convention in Chicago. By honoring progressive women in politics and celebrating the accomplishments of women in Congress, we'll raise the visibility of feminist issues and raise money for NOW/PAC's 1996 electoral work. And while we're there, we'll make sure the Democrats remember that they can't count on women's votes unless they support and work for the issues we care about.

Election Day

 Every bit of work we do to organize for the Fight the Right March and the events leading up to the November elections will build toward our success at polling booths across the country. We'll also do voter identification and mobilize our supporters everywhere we go. And we will get out the vote for candidates who will carry our message forward. We will "remember in November."

Return to January 1996 National NOW Times
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