NOW Acts

Lincoln County NOW sponsored a Walk for the CureLincoln County NOW sponsored a Walk for the Cure in Newport, Ore., Oct. 4 for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Participants raised awareness of this disease, which strikes one in eight women. Photo courtesy of Dora Weaver.

by Cindy Hanford, Chapter/State Development Staff

NOW chapters across the country were busy this fall with Women-Friendly Workplace Campaign actions and in efforts to bring media attention to the right-wing agenda of the Promise Keepers (see related articles). October was a particularly active month, with events around National Coming Out Day, Domestic Violence Awareness Month and Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Chapters Come Out Against Homophobia

National Coming Out Day celebrates the anniversary of the Oct. 11, 1987, March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. NOW chapters planned actions through-out the month of October, and many used Domestic Violence Awareness Month events to bring public attention to the problem of hate crimes against lesbians.

Many other chapters held separate actions to Come Out Against Homophobia. Quad Cities NOW (encompassing cities in Iowa and Illinois) held a candlelight vigil Oct. 15 in order to "light the way for their city council to update civil rights laws." Florida's Hernando County and Pasco County NOW chapters held a protest of a public library's censorship of a display by the Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. Madison NOW (Wis.) activists staged mock weddings on campuses throughout their area, while chapters in New Jersey, Greenville, S.C., Springfield, Mo., Davenport, Iowa, Lincoln, Neb., and Milwaukee, Wis., worked in coalition with lesbian and gay rights advocates to promote National Coming Out Day.

Redefining Liberation

NOW chapters throughout the country received copies of the Redefining Liberation video produced by NOW's Women's Health Project. Chapters are using the video to facilitate public programs on its topic how tobacco, alcohol and fashion advertisements endanger women's health. California NOW President Helen Grieco, who produced the film, has spoken at more than 30 events sponsored by California NOW chapters.

Bluegrass NOW Takes Back the Night

Bluegrass NOW in Lexington, Ky., held its Eighth Annual Take Back the Night march and rally Oct. 5 in recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Over 200 participants marched through the streets of downtown Lexington and then held a candlelight vigil and open microphone speak-out.

Bluegrass NOW activist Wendy Radin-Henry wrote in the chapter's news release: "There were 26,684 petitions for domestic violence protection orders filed in Kentucky last year....(We will) march and rally in an effort to call attention to male violence against women and to protest the widespread murder, rape and physical abuse of an entire class of people."

Tarleton State NOW Protests Violence

The NOW chapter at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas, held a march, rally and candlelight vigil Oct. 28 to protest violence against women. After gathering on the Tarleton State campus, approximately 70 participants marched to the downtown courthouse square for the rally and vigil.

Marchers chanted: "We've got the power; we've got the right; women unite Take Back the Night." At the rally, local victims' advocates spoke of the challenges of providing services in small communities and rural areas and praised the NOW chapter for helping to raise public awareness.

Tarleton State NOW's faculty advisor, Irma Harrington, was quoted in the local press: "Take Back the Night is a way to let women know there are others who have experienced domestic violence. We want victims to know that there is support for them." Campus NOW activists Kelly Stieber, Ashley Ramsey, Heather Brogan and Amanda Stuart worked hard to make the event a success.

Chapter Opposes Gender Bias in the Courts

The Johnson/Wyandotte Counties NOW chapter in Kansas has been instrumental in establishing a court watch program, Citizens for Good Judges, whose mission is to "advocate on a local, state and national level for the selection, election and retention of judges who are just, fair and equitable."

Chapter activist Sharon Lockhart founded the group in 1996 in response to the many legal problems referred to the chapter and because of a judge who was not being held accountable for violations of child support and visitation in his own divorce. Like NOW activists across the country, Lockhart found the judicial review process in her state unresponsive to complaints. The court watch program is so effective that some county judges excuse themselves from cases when they see its members in their courtroom.

The Massachusetts School of Law contacted Lockhart to write an article about Citizens for Good Judges for the Summer 97 issue of their journal, The Long Term View. Also included in this issue was an article by Lynn Hecht Schafran, director of NOW LDEF's National Judicial Education Program.

For information on how to start a court watch project, contact the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund, 99 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10013 and ask for A Guide to Court Watching in Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Cases (cost: $5.00 for printing and shipping). You may also contact Kansas NOW, P.O. Box 15531, Lenexa, KS 66285 for information on Citizens for Good Judges.

Chapters Protest Canady Speech

Florida activists protest Rep. Charles CanadyFlorida activists protest Rep. Charles Canady, R-Fla., who is leading the attach on affirmative action in Congress. Pictured left to right are: Jean Harden, President of West Polk County NOW; Jane Brumbaugh, President of Polk County NOW; and chapter members Marie Adams, Nona Weidl-Parnell and Don Micklewright. Photo courtesy of Jean Harden.

Florida NOW members were appalled that Rep. Charles Canady, R-Fla., a leading opponent of affirmative action, was invited to speak at a Nov. 3 dinner naming Lakeland's Woman of the Year. West Polk County and Polk County chapters demonstrated in front of the Lakeland Yacht & Country Club as Rep. Canady arrived.

Canady was close enough to see the activists' signs, which read: "Honor Women Stop the Attack on Affirmative Action," "The 1997 Civil Rights Act is not civil or right" and "Restore Vocational Training Funds to Displaced Homemakers."

Canady is the chief sponsor of the deceptively-titled 1997 Civil Rights Act (HR 1909/S950) that would destroy hard-won affirmative action policies that benefit women.

NOW activists were pleased that many women stayed away from this year's gala because they recognized the inappropriateness of Canady speaking at an event to honor women. The event was widely attended the prior year when West Polk County NOW member Mercedes Fox was honored as a Woman of the Year.

East End NOW Defends Abortion Rights

With little time to organize, East End NOW activists learned that members of the Rockville Centre Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church would be demonstrating against abortion outside a small women's health clinic in Southampton, Long Island. The chapter quickly mounted a counter-demonstration that dominated the media's coverage, with quotes from East End NOW President Melissa A. Walton and past president Melissa Bishop Morgan.

Feminist singer Sandy Rapp led the group in Remember Rose: A Song for Choice. Former NOW New York State President Marilyn Fitterman was quoted as characterizing the Catholics' "politics through the pulpit" as "a war against women."

That same month, East End NOW sponsored an event honoring the 25th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Baird v. Eisenstadt, which paved the way for Roe v. Wade. Bill Baird, a reproductive rights crusader whose 1967 arrest led to this pivotal decision, spoke of the danger of the religious right, including the Promise Keepers.

Results for U.S. Postal Employees in San Antonio

Women postal workers donned masks to protest their toxic work environment at the San Antonio District headquarters of the U.S. Post Office. These veteran postal employees had endured over eight years of sexual harassment, sex discrimination and retaliation. Joined by members of San Antonio NOW, the workers protested on the eve of Women's Equality Day because more than one hundred complaints had yielded only more retaliation from postal managers.

The women's actions finally got results. All of the women who had lost their jobs or been demoted have been reinstated or given their rightful jobs. The district manager who they said refused to hear or help was reassigned and has since taken early retirement. Two of the postal women have just been elected officers of San Antonio NOW.

Thanks for information provided by Helen Grieco, President of CA NOW, Wendy Radin-Henry of Bluegrass NOW, Irma Harrington of Tarleton State NOW, Sharon Lockhart of Johnson/Wyandotte Counties NOW, Jean Harden of West Polk County NOW, Dora Weaver of Lincoln County (OR) NOW, Sandy Rapp of East End NOW and Sheila Korte of San Antonio NOW. 

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