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National NOW Times >> Winter, 2001 >> Article NOW Acts

by Cindy Hanford

This fall, NOW chapters throughout the country organized get-out-the-vote efforts in their communities, picketed candidates George W. Bush and Dick Cheney in NOW's Bush- Whacker campaign, held events for the NOW Foundation's Love Your Body Day, and organized delegations to attend the World March of Women 2000.

Tallahassee NOW Keeps Busy
Tallahassee (FL) NOW held a Bush Whacker protest at the local Republican headquarters on Aug. 28, the same day that Democratic candidate Al Gore visited their city. The chapter's media advisory read: "Join the National Organization for Women as we shake the Bushes and expose George W.'s abysmal record on the issues women care about!" The press statement reported Bush's stance against reproductive rights and lesbian and gay rights, his record on health care, education, the death penalty and the environment, and the dangers of his possible Supreme Court appointments.

Republicans organized a counter-protest of about two dozen people, who crowded around the chapter's public address system carrying Bush/Cheney signs and shouting"W stands for Women" into the microphone, preventing NOW activists from speaking. The counter-protest backfired—the media found the confrontation worthy of coverage, and the television story, picked up by NBC news outlets throughout Florida, actually listed NOW's reasons for opposing Bush.

Tallahassee NOW President Linda Miklowitz and other chapter members received an invitation later in the day to meet Vice President Gore when he spoke at a local pharmacy on the high cost of prescription drugs and health care.

Milkowitz reports, "I felt obligated to tell his campaign manager, Donna Brazile, that we were concerned about his support of the Charitable Choice and Fathers' Count bills. Brazile told me that Gore had modified his position on the Fathers' Count Act after a meeting with national NOW's officers. She did not comment on charitable choice." In Washington, D.C., for World March events, Milkowitz was able to state the same concerns to Gore's advisor, Lynn Cutler.

The Tallahassee chapter also held a recent action on pay equity with the theme "Women Mean Busine$$." Members organized a Red Purse Parade outside the chamber of commerce, carrying red purses because women are "in the red" and "seeing red" over low pay. For Love Your Body Day, the chapter received radio coverage on a local program aimed at a teen audience and held a workshop at a public library. Along with Florida NOW, the chapter has also been working very hard to save affirmative action in Florida (see Summer 2000 NNT, p. 18). On Nov. 4, three days before the elections, the chapter hosted a Florida NOW program on why women should support affirmative action with their votes.

California NOW: Getting Out the Vote to Save Supreme Court
On Oct. 2, California NOW staged an action to "Save the Supreme Court." Dressed in judges robes, with masks of current Supreme Court justices' faces, activists gathered outside the Sacramento Federal Courthouse to remind voters the importance of the upcoming election in determining the future makeup of the Supreme Court.

California NOW President Helen Grieco was joined by representatives from Planned Parenthood and women's health specialists speaking on the Supreme Court's impact on reproductive rights issues. After the question, "What will the Supreme Court look like under the new President?" activists flipped their masks to show blank faces with question marks.

Four days later, chapters throughout the state of California organized actions to remind Californians to register to vote before California's Oct. 10 registration deadline.

Marin County NOW activists wore sandwich-board signs with slogans reminding people to use the voting rights fought for by suffragists. Sacramento NOW members dressed up and hit the town, spending the evening registering people at night spots around the city. Other chapters held similar voter registration efforts. In honor of the Redstockings Manifesto of 1969, activists wore red socks or stockings and wore them again on election day to remind people to go to the polls.

Cobb County NOW Keeps Tabs on Rep. Bob Barr
On August 20, Cobb County NOW (GA) protested rock star Ted Nugent as the featured performer at a fundraiser for conservative Representative Bob Barr, R-Ga. Protesters were outraged by lyrics from Nugent's song "Stranglehold," in which he sings about crushing his girl friend's face and threatening to burn her house down if she doesn't continue to see him.

The protest received television and newspaper coverage. The Marietta Daily Journal quoted Cobb County NOW President, Beverly McMurray: "Bob Barr has not addressed the fact that Nugent has these lyrics ... I think as an elected official who runs on family values, he needs to be more concerned about violence in personal relationships." The same article quoted Nugent as planning to contribute "lots" to the re-election campaign of Barr, a strong opponent of gun control.

Maine NOW Celebrates World March of Women
While some Maine activists made the trip to Washington, D.C., for the World March of Women, others mobilized events back home in Portland. Portland NOW and Maine NOW, in collaboration with the YWCA's Week Without Violence, began a week-long series of events addressing violence against women with a World March event in Portland on Oct. 15.

Scores of people marched from Congress Square to Monument Square, where over 200 rallied to listen to speakers. Sixteen organizations participated.

Portland NOW Coordinator Van Berry welcomed the crowd and challenged everyone to become involved. Long-time NOW activist Lois Reckitt emceed the event and read the state proclamation acknowledging World Women's March Day in Maine. Maine NOW President and National Board member Renee Berry-Huffman read the City's Proclamation and a girl's choir, Musicia de Filia, performed three selections. Heidi Hart of University of South Maine read a poem written by Berry-Huffman entitled, "Do You?" about an abused woman's determination to leave domestic violence behind her, and State Senator Anne Rand of Portland addressed the crowd.

Many thanks for information provided by: Linda Miklowitz of Tallahassee NOW, Zena Biocca of Lansing Area NOW, Elizabeth Volz of New Jersey NOW, Helen Grieco of California NOW, Beverly McMurray of Cobb County NOW and Renee Berry-Huffman of Maine NOW.

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