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National NOW Times >> Fall 2004 >> Article

NOW Conference Declares Emergency: NOW/PAC Urges Votes for Kerry Nov. 2

by Linda Berg, Political Director

Declaring an unprecedented "state of emergency" until November elections, delegates at the 2004 National NOW Conference resolved to mobilize members to re-defeat George W. Bush. His re-election will damage women and the world, so NOW members must encourage women everywhere to participate in the electoral process.

The conference declared Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., the only candidate able to defeat George W. Bush for the presidency:

Democratic candidates for President and Vice-President, Senators John Kerry and John Edwards, are both strong supporters of women's rights. Teresa Heinz Kerry and Elizabeth Edwards are strong women who enhance the ticket's appeal with women voters.
Democratic candidates for President and Vice-President , Senators John Kerry and John Edwards, are both strong supporters of women's rights. Teresa Heinz Kerry and Elizabeth Edwards are strong women who enhance the ticket's appeal with women voters. Photo reprinted by permission of Reuters
"[Kerry's] public statements over the years and voting record in the U.S. Senate demonstrate his strong support of women's rights."

The NOW Political Action Committee also examined records of the three presidential candidates and concluded only one candidate's recordóboth words and actionómerits women's votes.

"If we want to get back to the work of expanding women's rights, instead of losing them, our best choice is to vote for Sen. John Kerry for president," said NOW/PAC Chair Kim Gandy.

Comparing Candidates' Records on Women's Issues

Bush's transgressions against women's rights are too numerous to list. An abbreviated record of his abuses of power includes: commitment to packing the judiciary with ultra-conservatives, tireless attacks on abortion rights and on the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered community, his admin-istration's degradation of the environment and science, and unconscionable militarism, offending feminists and others worldwide.

Independent candidate Ralph Nader purports on his web site to support women's rights. However, NOW found that none of his actions advance women's rights, with the sole exception of reportedly attending the March for Women's Lives in Washington, D.C.

On the other hand, Kerry's Senate voting record supports a broad range of women's issues, including full support for reproductive rights, equal pay, affordable and accessible childcare, affirmative action and protection from domestic violence.

Kerry, one of few senators who voted against the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act, vowed to only appoint judges to the Supreme Court who support women's and civil rights. However, Kerry's failure to fully support same-sex marriage disappoints NOW, so we have some educating to do after the election.

Parity for Women in Office

One of NOW's most important electoral goals involves achieving parity for women in decision-making positions, especially electoral office. However, despite our efforts, the United States only ranks 58th in the world for women holding elected office.

Women hold only 14 percent of House seats and 14 percent of the Senate. Only 18 percent of state governors are women, even though women now constitute 53 percent of this country's population.

On the federal level, NOW/PAC focuses on the challenge of increasing the number of women elected to the House of Representatives and Senate from both parties. A direct correlation exists between the presence of a critical number of women in an elected body and the enactment of legislation supporting women's lives. This election year presents the opportunity of increasing the number of women in Congress, as well as protecting our incumbent friends.

The high cost of campaigns and incumbent-protecting reapportionment keeps many women from running for high-profile federal offices. Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun, a co-chair of NOW's National Advisory Board, speaks with great authority about such obstacles in women's path to elected office, after running as a Democratic presidential candidate in this year's primary.

Braun believes we must continue to promote women for public office. She proposed "Every Open Seat a Woman's Seat" until we reach absolute parity. If all political parties adopt such a policy, a significant increase in the number of women, of both parties, will reach public office. Members at the NOW conference embraced this concept as a long-term political goal.

Bush: A Threat to the Nation

The re-election of Bush stands as the biggest threat to our nation and our rights. His administration continues to dismember women's rights, civil rights, workers' rights and liberties afforded by the first amendment. His policies continue to bring new threats to the environment and government programs such as Social Security. These actions constitute a national crisis.

Widespread concerns exist regarding the integrity of November's elections. In April, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights issued a report raising questions about voting equipment, voter-list maintenance, poll-worker training, election certification and reinstatement of ex-felon voting rights. The report concluded that "potential is real and present for significant problems on voting day that once again will compromise the right to vote."

In response, NOW resolved to support Congressional efforts, demanding unbiased international observers to monitor the November election. The NOW conference called for members to monitor their local precincts to ensure that all votes are fairly cast and counted.

Please visit www.10forchange.org to get involved in NOW's get-out-the-vote efforts or call 202-628-8669 to find out how you can help re-defeat George W. Bush, Nov 2.

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