TIMELINE OF MAJOR ACTIONS AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS
National Organization for Women, 2006 – 2016
2006, January 18 – NOW Foundation joins in a friend-of-the-court brief opposing a parental notification law and advocating for the health exception in Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. On this date, the U.S. Supreme Court issues a unanimous ruling reiterating the Court’s long-standing principle that abortion restrictions must include protections for women’s health. Ayotte concerns a New Hampshire law requiring that parents be notified of a teenager’s pending abortion, involving a 48 hour delay after notification, and no provision for a medical emergency exception.
2005 through 2006, January – NOW lobbies against confirmation of U.S. Supreme Court nominee Samuel A. Alito Jr., who sits on the Court of Appeals, Third Circuit and has been described as one of the most conservative justices. Alito is nominated as Justice O’Connor’s replacement, but opposes abortion rights and affirmative action. NOW’s “Enraged and Engaged” campaign generates tens of thousands of messages, urging senators to vote against this ultra-conservative judge who is out of the mainstream on women’s rights and civil rights.
2006, January 31 – Alito is sworn in, adding to new anti-abortion rights majority. Despite a filibuster, the Senate votes to confirm. The new associate justice joins four other abortion rights opponents on the Court which now has the majority that abortion rights opponents have sought to install for several decades.
2006 – Justice Alito joins Supreme Court Chief Justice nominee John Roberts Jr., who as a Bush administration official argued that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided and should be overruled, and filed a brief asserting that blockades and clinic protests were protected speech under the First Amendment in NOW’s case against Operation Rescue. Roberts also opposes equal pay for women. NOW activists had waged a “No on Roberts” campaign in 2005 to oppose his confirmation.
2006 – NOW welcomes FDA decision to make Plan B emergency contraception available over-the-counter, without prescription for women aged 18 and over, but we criticize the requirement that women 17 and under must have a prescription. This action follows the public resignation by FDA Office of Women’s Health Director Dr. Susan Wood in 2005 in protest of the repeated delays to approve Plan B for over-the-counter sale.
2006, February 4 – NOW founder, famed author and influential intellectual Betty Friedan passes away. Friedan wrote The Feminine Mystique, which is credited with spurring the growth of the Second Wave Feminist movement. Friedan served as NOW’s first president, 1966 – 1970. Friedan organized the Strike for Equality on August 26, 1970 – the 50th anniversary of the 19th amendment recognizing women’s right to vote, which in New York City alone attracted 50,000 marchers, and many more thousands in other cities Friedan led efforts by NOW and others to gain ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment during the 1970s and early 1980’s.
2006, February 28 – The U.S. Supreme Court issues a ruling in the cases of Scheidler et. al. v. National Organization for Women et. al. and Operation Rescue et al. v. National Organization for Women et. al., finding against NOW (8-0) , and lifting the nationwide injunction against these abortion terrorists and “potentially ushering a return to clinic violence in the United States,” NOW President Kim Gandy says. This first-ever nationwide injunction was granted in 1989, resulting in fewer violent incidents at women’s health clinics.
In the early 1990s NOW had sued Joseph Scheidler, the Pro-Life Action Network (PLAN) and others to stop their reign of terror at clinics around the country. Operation Rescue and Randall Terry were later added as defendants. NOW sought a nationwide injunction under the RICO (Racketeering influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) based on violations of the Hobbs Act, a federal criminal statute, to stop these organizations.
A subsequent Court ruling held that RICO was not violated because the defendants had received no money or property from the clinics, despite evidence of more than 100 acts of extortion that plaintiffs cited. The current Court proceeding will determine whether the plaintiffs in new counter-suits, Joe Scheidler and Operation Rescue, should remain under the injunction
2006 – A report by the Feminist Majority Foundation, headed by former NOW President Ellie Smeal, documents the decline. The percentage of women’s health clinics experiencing violent attacks in 2005 is reported at 18 percent compared to 52 percent reported in 1994. Bomb threats, stalking, death threats, and blockages are the most common severe incidents.
2006, February –Harvard President and former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers steps down. NOW had called for Summers to resign after remarks at a 2005 economic conference that innate differences between men and women might be one of the reasons women lag behind in science and math careers. Summers resigns before an expected vote of no confidence from Harvard’s largest faculty regarding this and other issues.
2006 – NOW objects to regulations issued by President George W. Bush’s Department of Education which significantly loosen previous regulations under Title IX concerning single-sex classes and schools. The new language says that schools can exclude boys or girls from classrooms on the basis of vague goals such as “improving the educational achievement students” by offering “diverse educational options.” Studies show that overall single sex education does not improve outcomes.
2006 – NOW Leaders Run and Win in Elections is the headline when a record number of NOW members and leaders are elected to office in state legislatures in Idaho, Maine, Indiana, Delaware, Alabama and Arkansas.
2006 – NOW continues to oppose efforts by conservatives to add an amendment to the U.S. Constitution defining marriage as between only a man and a woman. NOW denounces regressive marriage laws adopted in New York and Washington State, while applauding a positive move toward equal marriage in New Jersey. Related anti-marriage equality bills in Congress would even prevent states from recognizing marriage equality for LGBTQIA persons in their own constitutions. Two years earlier, NOW launched a campaign of advocacy and litigation in support of full marriage equality before the general election. NOW strongly urges that the goal is full marriage rights, not civil unions.
2006 – NOW celebrates Forty Fabulous Years of Fearless Feminism at the NOW National Conference in Albany, N.Y. with former President Karen DeCrow, Founder Muriel Fox, Founder Elizabeth Farians, Founder Inez Cassiano, Founder and Former President Aileen Hernandez and Founder Alice Rossi. NOW founders and former presidents reminisced about NOW’s early days and noted many of the advances for women’s rights that NOW has helped to make possible. A Young Feminist Summit is also held at the conference.
2006 – NOW Foundation submits a shadow report to the United Nations Human Rights Committee in Geneva about continuing discrimination in the workplace as part of a review of the U.S. under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The U.N. committee recommends that the U.S. “should take all steps necessary, including at state level, to ensure the equality of women before the law and equal protection of the law, as well as effective protection against discrimination on the ground of sex, in particular in the area of employment.”
2006 – NOW Foundation joins with West Virginia NOW and the International Gender Organization in submitting a shadow report objecting to the shackling of pregnant prison inmates in labor and delivery, as a violation of U.S. treaty obligations under the Convention on Torture (CAT). The U.N. Committee on Torture urges the U.S. to “adopt all appropriate measures to ensure that women in detention are treated in conformity with international standards.”
2006 – NOW opposes FDA approval of silicone breast implants, over several years we testify that hundreds women with implants report calcification around the implants, leakage of silicone, infections and serious auto-immune diseases. Thousands of serious complications involving implants have been reported to the FDA.
2006 – NOW PAC endorses 90 candidates for elective office; 59 win.
2007, January 4 – Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is sworn in as the 52nd Speaker and the first woman Speaker of the House of Representatives. Women’s rights advocates, including NOW members, are thrilled to see this historic step forward.
2007 – President Kim Gandy notes that it was seven years ago in Stenberg v. Carhart that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against an almost identical ban enacted in Nebraska. That decision set a clear precedent and was the reason that three U.S. Courts of Appeal declared the 2003 federal ban unconstitutional, she writes. But once five justices who are abortion rights opponents were installed on the high court, the Bush administration moved forward to reverse that precedent and, as a result, upheld a law that clearly endangers women’s health and lives in Gonzales v. Carhart.
2007 – At a joint press conference, NOW leads an effort to call out radio ‘shock jock’ Don Imus for demeaning and racist remarks about the Rutgers University women’s basketball team during a discussion about the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship. Imus later apologized, but public outrage and sponsor withdrawal pushed CBS to cancel his show, Imus in the Morning.
2007 – Gathering at the historic Sewall-Belmont House in Washington, D.C., NOW’s Political Action Committee endorses Sen. Hillary Clinton for president of the United States. NOW President Kim Gandy notes that Sen. Clinton “has a long history of support for women’s empowerment and her public record is a testimony to her leadership on issues important to women in the U.S. and around the globe.”
2007 – NOW PAC’s ‘Make History with Hillary’ campaign will organize women’s rights supporters around the country to stand up and say “I’m Ready! for a woman president.” Clinton loses a key caucus vote in Iowa to Sen. Barack Obama. But she wins the New Hampshire primary, followed by wins in Ohio, Texas, Rhode Island and other states.
2007, March – Tell the Media: Stop Sexist Coverage! NOW urges activists to sign our petition demanding that the media refrain from using gender stereotypes in their coverage of presidential candidates. Coverage of presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton ranges from intelligent and fair to appallingly sexist and pointless.
2007 – Activists are encouraged to join Birmingham NOW and NOW chapter and state leaders in defending women’s health clinics during Alabama Reproductive Justice Summer pushing back against Operation Save America’s anti-abortion rights campaign.
2007 – NOW issues a statement opposing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) because of its religious exemption; and, instead urges that legislation contain broad protections in the workplace for LGBTQIA persons.
2007 – NOW advises grassroots to urge lawmakers to “Lift the Ban: Repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the law that mandates firing someone because of his or her sexual orientation. More than 11,000 members from all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces have been discharged. The policy undermines the dignity, privacy, and integrity of service members by asking them to hide or lie about their sexual orientation.
2007, April 18 – AS NOW leaders feared, the Supreme Court in Gonzales v. Carhart and in the related case of Gonzales v. Planned Parenthood Federation of America upholds the so-called Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003. The Court’s ruling that the ban did not impose an undue burden on the due process right of women to obtain an abortion, marking a shift in Supreme Court jurisprudence since the retirement of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and replacement by abortion-rights opponent Samuel Alito.
2007 – NOW weighs in on an immigration bill pending in Congress, joining with the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum and dozens of other groups in a letter laying out recommendations for real reform. NOW advocates for provisions to protect the estimated two million immigrant women who are physically or sexually assaulted by an intimate partner in the U.S., each year.
2007, April 18 – NOW decries a (5-4) decision by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that the so-called abortion procedure ban does not violate a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion, in Gonzales v. Carhart. The case refers to the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 which sought to prohibit a specific (and medically safe) procedure in the third trimester of pregnancy. NOW President Kim Gandy criticizes the ruling as a “political decision, or one that so completely distorts the law and disregards the U.S. Constitution.”
2007 – Former NOW President Judy Goldsmith (1982-1985) is honored at the annual NOW National Conference in Detroit, and recalls during her tenure the exciting nomination of Geraldine Ferraro, with Walter Mondale, on the Democratic ticket in 1984.
2007 – NOW launches our Code Blue – Demand Health Care for All NOW campaign, coordinated by NOW Action Vice President Melody Drnach — which advocates for universal health care as a fundamental human right to be offered via a single-payer system which does not require that insurance be provided by an employer. Polls show majority support for a single-payer system.
2007 – NOW calls attention to the conservative majority on the Supreme Court who recently voted to limit the ability of employees who have suffered pay discrimination to seek back pay and compensation in the case of Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tires and Rubber Co. In response, the U.S. House of Representatives passed (225-199) the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2007. The new law says that the 180-day deadline for filing an equal-pay lawsuit is reset with each new paycheck affected by that discriminatory action. Senate fails to pass this bill.
2007 – NOW hails passage of a bill gradually raising the federal minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25 an hour — the first raise in ten years. NOW activists campaigned for the increase, noting that two-thirds of minimum wage workers are women and many have families to support. Tipped workers sub-minimum rate remains at the abysmally low $2.13 an hour where it was set in 1996.
2007, May – NOW Membership Vice President Latifa Lyles presents testimony at a Congressional briefing opposing the privatization of Social Security, which would harm women and lower income retirees. Reflecting long-standing NOW policy, Lyles also opposes benefit cuts under Social Security, especially a proposed spousal benefit cut , advocates for lifting the cap on the payroll tax rate to assure long range solvency and the addition of a ‘Family Service Credit’ that would compensate for family caregivers’ paid workforce “drop-out years’.
2007, September 24 – NOW mourns the passing of NOW co-founder and first vice president in 1966, Richard Graham. Dr. Graham was an original member of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the founding director of the National Teacher Corps in the 1960’s. He became a feminist at the EEOC and was one of the more outspoken commissioners for women’s rights, along with the EEOC’s only female member, Aileen Hernandez, a future NOW founder and president.
2008 – NOW continues its campaign to shine a spotlight on Walmart’s workplace abuses, after naming the retail giant a ‘Merchant of Shame’ in 2002 as part of the organization’s Women-Friendly Workplace Campaign. Over the years, numerous complaints have been made about Walmart’s sex discrimination in compensation and promotion, wage abuse, exclusion of contraception in insurance plans, violations of child labor laws and the Americans with Disabilities Act, discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and union-busting tactics.
2008 – In a critical election year, NOW conducts voter education and get–out–the–vote efforts across the country to ensure that leaders who will support LGBTQIA rights are elected to office. NOW opposes ballot measures in Arizona, California and Florida that would deny equal marriage rights. NOW activists across the country protest the passage of these measures.
2008 – NOW joins with the Institute for Women’s Policy Research to hold an Economic Justice Summit in Atlanta, bringing together activists and academics to discuss economic policies that would strengthen women’s economic security. Researchers from the U.S. and abroad, including Great Britain’s former poverty ‘czar,’ assess programs and policies that work best to limit poverty among women and children.
2008 – Equal pay advocate Lily Ledbetter is an honored guest speaker at the National NOW Conference. After winning at a lower court level, Ledbetter lost her case in the U.S. Supreme Court against Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company in Louisiana, pointing up loopholes in federal law which permit sex- and race based pay discrimination when individuals do not promptly report discrimination – often because they do not know due to employers’ policies against sharing compensation information among employees.
2008, September 16 – Following presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton’s withdrawal (she earned more popular votes than did Sen. Obama), NOW PAC endorses Barack Obama for president and Joseph Biden for vice president. PAC Chair Kim Gandy stated, “Women of all ages, races and ethnicities are coming together in support of Sen. Obama and his pledge to fulfill this country’s promise of equal opportunity for our daughters as well as our sons.”
2008 – At the NOW National Conference in Bethesda, Md., NOW President Kim Gandy presents immediate past president, Patricia Ireland (1991-2001) with the Woman of Vision Award. Ireland is cited for her leadership on anti-poverty initiatives, civil rights, disability, and LGBTQIA issues. Ireland travelled and spoke to numerous NOW state and chapter organizations during her tenure and authored a book, What Women Want?
2008 – Under the leadership of NOW Executive Vice President Olga Vives, NOW establishes the National Coalition for Immigrant Women’s Rights (NCIWR) with the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum and the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Rights, and numerous other organizations. NCIWR develops Principles for Immigration Reform, laying out a plan of action for comprehensive immigration reform legislation that allows a path to citizenship, provides for improvements in the family reunification program as well as health care for children and reproductive healthcare for all immigrant women.
2008 – NOW’s Political Action Committee endorses attorney and domestic violence survivor assistance program leader Donna Edwards for Congress from Maryland’s 4th District; Edwards wins primary and general elections to become the first African-American woman elected from Maryland.
2008 – NOW PAC endorses102 candidates for elective office; 71 win.
2009 – NOW continues to work against sex-based pay discrimination by supporting the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act which Congress finally passes and President Obama signs as his first act in office. The new law overturns a U.S. Supreme Court decision which found that Ledbetter’s complaint was time-barred because the discriminatory compensation decision had been made more than 180 days prior to the date she filed her charge (six months before her early retirement). An anonymous tip informed Ledbetter that male employees who held similar positions at the company were being paid significantly more.
2009, April – NOW welcomes the decision of U.S. District Judge Edward Korman in Brooklyn who rules that the FDA acted without good faith in denying a petition submitted by the Center for Reproductive Rights to the FDA to remove the age restriction, and orders that plan B be sold without prescription to women age 17 and older, also recommending that the FDA should consider lowering the age and access restrictions.
2009 – NOW opposes a George W. Bush administration rule that will allow doctors and hospitals to withhold Plan B ‘morning after’ pill from rape victims, if providing the contraceptive pill offends health care providers’ religious or moral beliefs
2009 – NOW supports the Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). DOMA is the federal law adopted in 1996 which defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman, allowing states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages granted under the laws of other states. NOW celebrates marriage equality progress in Iowa, Vermont and D.C.
2009 – NOW co-sponsors with Equality Across America and participates in the massively successful National Equality March in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 11, attended by hundreds of thousands, demanding that President Obama keep his promise to allow gays to serve openly in the military and to work to end discrimination against LGBTQIA people
2009 – NOW, along with California NOW and the Feminist Majority Foundation submits an amicus brief to the Supreme Court of California challenging the validity of Proposition 8 which eliminates the rights of same-sex couples to marry. Prop 8 is ultimately ruled unconstitutional by a federal court on different grounds in 2010, followed in 2013 by the U.S. Supreme Court which turned back the case, Hollingsworth v. Perry, to the Ninth Circuit with instructions to dismiss an appeal by the proponents of Proposition 8 as they lacked legal standing.
2009 – In response to the Obama administration’s backing of federal funds for “shovel-ready” jobs to ease high unemployment during the Great Recession, NOW advocates for recession recovery federal funding for jobs traditionally held by women, noting a dramatic increase in women’s unemployment, especially for women of color.
2009, February 17 – Our advocacy has an impact. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, passed by Congress and signed into law, provides $831 billion over ten years and includes direct spending in infrastructure, education, health, and energy, federal tax incentives, expansion of unemployment benefits and other social welfare provisions – many of which will benefit women.
2009, May 31 – NOW deplores the murder of Dr. George Tiller, urging the government to try the case as an act of domestic terrorism. Dr. Tiller, a Wichita, Kans. physician, was medical director of one of only three clinics nationwide that provided late-term abortions, usually for women facing a health crisis or having a fetus with severe abnormalities. Tiller is murdered at his church by anti-abortion extremist Scott Roeder who was later sentenced to life in prison. Twelve clinic personnel, volunteers and doctors have been murdered since 1993.
2009, May – National Action Center staff and NOW leaders thank retiring NOW president Kim Gandy for her 36 years of service to the organization. An attorney, Kim served as a senior assistant district attorney in New Orleans and as a private attorney litigated cases seeking fair treatment for women. She served as president of Louisiana State NOW, was elected national secretary in 1987, served as executive vice president and then as national president, 2001 to 2009. Kim’s thoughtful and sometimes sardonic comments appear in a column she writes for National NOW Times, Below the Belt, chronicling the many challenges of working for women’s rights inside the Washington Beltway.
2009, July – Former NOW Membership Vice President Terry O’Neill, an attorney and former law professor at Tulane University, is elected national president at the National NOW Conference in Indianapolis. Elected with her are Membership Vice President Allendra Letsome, Action Vice President Erin Matson and Executive Vice President Bonnie Grabenhofer.
2009, July – NOW calls for swift confirmation of Judge Sonia M. Sotomayor, currently a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, who will become the first Hispanic justice and only the third woman to serve on the high court. Sotomayor fills the seat of retiring justice, David Souter, and is sworn in on August 8.
2009, October 28 – After more than 20 years of advocacy to add gender to hate crimes law, NOW applauds the signing of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which expands the 1969 federal hate crimes law to include criminal prohibitions involving actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability bias crimes. The new law extends coverage of the act to incidents occurring outside of a federally-protected activity (like going to school or voting) and requires the FBI to collect statistics on the new categories.
2009 – NOW advocates for a single-payer plan in health care reform being debated, noting that such an approach would cut health care costs by 20 to 30 percent or more and would provide coverage for most of the 47 million persons without or with inadequate health insurance. President Obama has said that he favored a single-payer system, with the government acting as the payer, but private doctors, clinics and hospitals would continue to provide services. But Obama later backs away from single-payer; public polls show that the idea of single-payer has majority support.
2009 – NOW opposes efforts by lawmakers to exclude abortion coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), urging grassroots to send messages of opposition to Congress. NOW activists rally and send thousands of messages to Congress opposing the Stupak Amendment, later the Nelson Amendment which would prohibit abortion care coverage under the ACA.
2009 – But Congress fails to adopt a single-payer type reform. Instead, legislation embracing a plan originally advanced by a conservative think tank that would rely on private insurers to provide coverage, but with the government subsidizing costs for qualifying individuals and families.
2009 – NOW supports insurance mandate for contraceptive coverage in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), calling this one of the most important advances for women’s health. NOW also urges grassroots activists to lobby for adoption in the ACA of Sen. Barbara Mikulski’s and Sen. Olympia Snowe’s Women’s Health Amendment making women’s preventive health care services part of a basic benefits package at no cost-sharing.
2009 – Ultimately, several provisions are adopted which would prohibit marketplace-purchased insurance plans from offering abortion coverage. NOW later submits formal comments to the Department of Health and Human Services urging an optional insurance plan rider to cover abortion care which was later adopted in federal regulations.
2009, December 24 – The Patient Protection And Affordable Care Act (ACA) is adopted by Congress with mandatory insurance coverage for contraception and a strong package of no cost-sharing preventive health care services for women, a prohibition against sex-based discrimination in insurance rates for women, but with severe restrictions on abortion insurance coverage, among many other provisions that would prohibit denial of coverage for individuals (including children) with pre-existing conditions, extend coverage on parent’s plans for children up to age 26, strengthen Medicare with better drug discounts, includes a Patient’s Bill of Rights, eliminates lifetime limits on insurance coverage, and many other provisions to improve health care delivery and regulate the insurance industry.
2010 – 2014 – NOW co-chairs the Older Women’s Economic Security Task Force of the National Council of Women’s Organizations, with several dozen organizations. The task force works to develop consensus and action plans around important policy and legislative advances for older women, including expansion of Social Security.
2010, March 23 –President Obama signs into law the Affordable Care Act which is a remarkable step forward, despite vigorous opposition from conservatives. Millions of individuals and families without insurance coverage or are under-insured will now have the opportunity to get subsidized coverage through health insurance marketplace. Medicaid for lower-income earners is expanded, but there remain about 19 million persons who will not be able to access insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act, including undocumented immigrants.
2010 – Partly as a fund-raising effort, NOW President Terry O’Neill delivers 1,500 baby nipples to President Obama’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform co-chair, former U.S. Senator Alan Simpson. The effort is mainly intended to call attention to Simpson’s disrespect of seniors and women and NOW demands that he resign. Simpson demonstrates his poor understanding of the importance of Social Security for millions of retirees, families, and persons with disabilities and advocates for benefit cuts. He famously describes Social Security as a government “milk cow with 310 million tits.” NOW and allies organize against the commission and help stall recommendations that would have cut Social Security benefits and slashed funding for many human needs programs.
2010 – NOW Foundation travels to a symposium in Charlottesville, Va. to meet with the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, Rashida Manjoo, to advocate for a broad exploration of how programs assisting survivors of domestic violence are functioning. A NOW Foundation white paper urges the Special Rapporteur to look at the many forms of violence against women, including gun violence and what appears to be an increase in the number of family murders. Assisted by the University of Virginia Law School’s Human Rights Clinic, the Special Rapporteur will visit various states’ shelters and programs and issue a report.
2010 – NOW applauds the Senate confirmation of Elena Kagan as an Associate Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court, saying that she “will prove herself a champion of equality and justice for all.” Kagan was nominated to fill the vacancy of Justice John Paul Stevens, who is retiring. At the time, Kagan was serving as the 45th U.S. Solicitor General, but had never served as a judge. She was confirmed by a vote of 63-37 and sworn in on August 7.
2010 – The National Organization for Women joins equal rights advocates around the country in demanding that President Obama act immediately to suspend the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, which prevents LGBT service members from serving openly. After protests, working with elected officials, and grassroots mobilizing, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is repealed in December, 2010.
2010, Summer – National NOW joins with Charlotte, N.C. NOW, the Feminist Majority Foundation and other grassroots allies to help the Family Reproductive Health Clinic become free from harassment and terror threats from extreme anti-abortion rights group Operation Save America for the first Saturday in eight years.
2010 – NOWPAC endorses 93 candidates for elective office; 64 win.
2011, January 3 – Former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is sworn in as Minority Leader. Democrats lose control of the U.S. House of Representatives in the mid-term elections, with 63 net seats being gained by Republicans. New party split is 242-193. Many new members of the House claim Tea Party affiliation.
2011– NOW and allies send letter to Congress calling for the repeal of Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which was passed and signed into law in 1996. The Respect for Marriage Act of 2011 (S. 598) would repeal a provision in DOMA which prohibits a state from recognizing a same-sex marriage performed in another state. Early in 2011, the Obama administration announces that the Department of Justice will no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court – much to the ire of Republicans who oppose same-sex marriage.
2011, February 7 – NOW Foundation hosts a presentation at the National Action Center when U.N. Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, Rashida Manjoo, discusses the report from her fact-finding mission to the United States (which is carried on YouTube). The report observes a lack of legally binding federal provisions providing substantive protections against or prevention of violence against women and failure to properly implement some laws, policies and programs. Recommendations focus on providing remedies for victims, investigation/prosecution of violence against women in the military and improving conditions for women in detention, among others.
2011, July 13 – NOW President Terry O’Neill submits testimony to U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee concerning a continuing shortage of funding for domestic violence shelter and support services, which results in the turning away of an estimated three million women and children each year for lack of shelter beds and staff resources, based on the annual census of shelters by the National Network to End Domestic Violence.
2011 – National Organization for Women Political Action Committee (NOW PAC) announces an endorsement of Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), an openly lesbian woman, for U.S. Senate. Baldwin wins in the 2012 elections and joins 17 women in the Upper Body.
2011– NOW posts open letter to President Obama, urging him to not advocate for what would be a cut in Social Security benefits by adopting a different cost of living formula (Chained CPI), noting that the cumulative effects of these cuts would fall most heavily on elderly women resulting in the loss of about a week’s worth of food every month.
2011, December – The FDA is ready to approve OTC status for Plan B with no age restriction based on studies submitted by the manufacturer, but the action is overruled by the Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sibelius. There is little doubt that conservatives are pressuring the administration to hold up approval.
2011 – 2012 – NOW initiates a call for improving Social Security benefits, convincing hesitant coalition partners to join in this effort to enhance benefits, assure long-term solvency of program by lifting cap on taxable income and creating a caregivers’ credit under Social Security which would improve the retirement security of millions of caregivers – mostly women – who take substantial time out of the paid workforce to care for children or elderly or ailing relatives and find their retirement income reduced as a result.
2012 – NOW urges President Obama to call for the repeal of Defense of Marriage Act and for protections against workplace discrimination for LGBTQIA people in his State of the Union address. The president has indicated a reticence about recognizing same-sex marriage rights, but NOW and allies keep the pressure on.
2012, February 7 – NOW applauds the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals of California for affirming that Proposition 8, the California ballot initiative that eliminated same-sex couples; right to marry, violates the U.S. Constitution. The case will likely go to the Supreme Court and will likely hasten a decision by the top court on equal marriage rights for LGBTQIA persons.
2012 – NOW activists worked unceasingly in the states to make the fundamental right of same-sex couples to marry a reality in November. Maryland and Washington state legislatures pass and governors sign, same-sex marriage laws. However, opponents place referenda on state election ballots to try to keep these laws from taking effect.
2012, March 8 – NOW Foundation’s Native American Women Task Force sponsors a panel discussion, Issues Confronting Native Women in Rural USA, at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, 56th session, Parallel Events. Native American women leaders and a tribal judge from eight different tribal groups discussed Indian land use and management, violence against indigenous women and physical and mental health issues
2012, March 16 – Former NOW Vice President Executive, Vice President Action (2001 – 2009) Olga Vives passes away. NOW leaders and activists mourn the untimely passing of our popular vice president – a courageous and dedicated feminist who had a special focus on the challenges faced by women of color and immigrants and was concerned about growing income inequality. Olga led NOW effort to organize the National Coalition for Immigrant Women’s Rights.
2012, April – NOW Foundation sends letter to American Psychiatric Association objecting to inclusion in the Diagnostic and Statistics Manual V (DSM V) of a phony psychological syndrome, parental alienation syndrome. This so-called psychiatric condition is being used in child custody cases to remove custody from protective parents (usually mothers) and often awarding custody to an abusive parent (usually fathers). DSM V does not include parental alienation as a recognized psychological condition.
2012 – NOW urges North Carolina voters to oppose Amendment One, which would prohibit same-sex marriage in the state constitution. Despite relentless efforts by NOW activists, Amendment One is adopted. In Minnesota, the law already prohibits same-sex marriage, opponents try to amend their state constitution to ban it. But NOW activists refused to let that happen, and it was defeated!
2012 – NOW celebrates President Obama’s first public expression of support for marriage equality. In early May, Vice President Joe Biden says that he is “absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women and heterosexual men marrying women are entitled to the same exact rights. All the civil rights, all the civil liberties.” Biden’s comments help set the stage for the president’s declaration of support for marriage equality.
2012 – NOW, with allied organizations in the National Coalition for Women and Girls in Education (NCWGE) issues “Title IX – Working to Ensure Gender Equity in Education,” celebrating 40 years of gains for women and girls. The report details the many advances in career and technical education, athletics, science, technology and engineering made by girls and women as well as updates in the areas of pregnant and parenting students, sexual harassment and single-sex education. The NCWGE Title IX reports — issued every five years — also identify area where more progress needs to be made.
2012 – Virginia NOW activists are outraged with the state legislature’s adoption of a law that would require all women who seek an abortion to have an ultrasound examination. At the usual early stage for an abortion, the ultrasound exam would require a vaginal probe. Three is no medical reason for an ultrasound exam to be routinely conducted. Thousands of activists demonstrate against the ultrasound law in the state capitol. At the time, 12 states have ultrasound exam requirements on the books.
2012, May – NOW Foundation co-authors with the Institute for Women’s Policy Research and the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare Foundation , “Breaking the Social Security Glass Ceiling: a Proposal to Modernize Women’s Benefits.” A Congressional briefing is held to discuss the report which is also carried on You Tube; copies are distributed to key members of Congress, our allies and NOW activists.
2012, October – Marriage equality advocates are thrilled to hear that In October, 2012 a federal appeals court in the Second Circuit has declared the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional. Activists continue to work in various states to oppose bans on same-sex marriage and to promote legislation recognizing marriage equality for LGBTQIA couples.
2012 – In July, the NOW National Action Center organized NOW members to make phone calls into targeted states for marriage equality, ensuring that hundreds of thousands of voices would be heard. Our work is having an impact on the momentum of marriage equality campaigns and in encouraging more activists to get involved.
2012, June 25 – Previously, NOW Foundation joined with allies in a brief opposing an Arizona law which would have empowered local law enforcement to apprehend undocumented immigrants. On this date, the Supreme Court rules in Arizona v. United States, an Arizona law (S.B. 1070) that provides authority for local law enforcement to enforce immigration law violates the enumerated powers of Congress and is pre-empted by federal statute. The Court said that Arizona law enforcement may inquire about a resident’s legal status during lawful encounters, but may not implement its own immigration rules.
2012, November – Attorneys for NOW will argue before the Supreme Court in the cases Scheidler et al. v. National Organization for Women et al. and Operation Rescue et al. v. National Organization for Women. This is the third time that the Court will be considering the class action case filed on behalf of all women who could potentially be patients of the approximately 2,000 health care clinics and by two named clinics representing the class of clinics themselves.
.2012 – NOWPAC endorses 135 candidates for elective office; 103 win.
2013, March 26 – NOW calls on the Supreme Court to Reject Bigotry and to recognize the fundamental right of same-sex couples to marry. NOW and NOW Foundation are signatories to three friend-of-the-court briefs in Hollingsworth b. Perry and U.S. v. Windsor. NOW also signed on to two other briefs which urge the Court to apply the same heightened scrutiny to discrimination based on sexual orientation as discrimination based on race.
2013, March – The U.S. Supreme Court hears Hollingsworth v. Perry, the challenge to Proposition 8, on March 26 and Windsor v. U.S., the challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) on March 27.
2013, June 26 – NOW activists are thrilled with the SCOTUS ruling which finds the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. The Supreme Court holds in United States v. Windsor that restricting U.S. federal interpretation of “marriage” and “spouse” to apply only to heterosexual unions, by Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA – marriage is a union between only a man and a woman), is unconstitutional under the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection.
2013, June 26 – Supreme Court decides in Hollingsworth v. Perry that same-sex opponents in California did not have standing to intervene in a U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California case where the judge found that Proposition 8 ballot initiative which banned same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.
2013 – Terry O’Neill speaks at Battered Mother’s Custody Tenth Anniversary Conference, held in Washington, D.C., calling attention to the many serious problems of family courts where protective parents (usually mothers) are losing custody of children to abusive ex-spouses. NOW Foundation’s Family Law Ad Hoc Advisory Committee reports on developments in family courts in a newsletter on the Foundation’s webpages.
June 26, 2013 – NOW leaders and activists were ecstatic to hear that the Supreme Court in the case of United States v. Windsor ruled in favor of petitioner Edith Schlain Windsor in her challenge of Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act which federally defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman as husband and wife. Windsor asserted that the Section is unconstitutional under the Fifth Amendment Due Process Clause’s guarantee of equal protection. The court held that restricting U.S. federal interpretation of “marriage” and “spouse” to apply only to heterosexual unions was unconstitutional.
2013 – At the National NOW Conference in Chicago, NOW President Terry O’Neill is re-elected, along with Bonnie Grabenhofer as executive vice president and Chitra Panjabi as membership vice president.
2013, August – NOW President Terry O’Neill is arrested with other advocates for immigrant women’s rights while protesting a punishing immigration reform bill being considered by Congress. Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) offers an amendment to expand the number of work visas for immigrant women who are often disadvantaged because immigration policy gives preference to the types of occupations that are mainly held by men.
2013 – NOW cries fowl when conservatives try to hold up VAWA. Republican leaders in Congress attempt to weaken the Violence Against Women Act during reauthorization and hold up final passage over objections about provisions relating to Native American women, immigrant women and lesbians. At an impasse over the final vote, NOW takes aggressive lead in calling out some conservative leaders as sexist, racist and homophobic – which appears to have an impact in moving the legislation to a final vote.
2013, July 25 – NOW calls upon President Obama to appoint Federal Reserve Vice Chair Dr. Janet Yellen to succeed Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke as Chair. NOW President Terry O’Neill criticizes the administration for not selecting Yellen as the most qualified person, saying that a woman as chair of the Fed is long overdue. The Obama Administration is said to be considering former Treasury Secretary and former Harvard President Larry Summers for the job.
2013, October – Obama announces selection of Janet Yellen for chair of the Federal Reserve, calling it “one of the most important appointments that any president can make…” and describing Yellen as “a proven leader” and “is exceptionally well qualified for this role.” Yellen is confirmed by the Senate January, 2014. Consensus among many women’s rights advocates that NOW’s public call for the president to appoint Yellen was key to her selection.
2013 October – With the Institute for Women’s Policy Research and Center for Community Change, NOW Foundation issues a report, Expanding Social Security Benefits for Financially-Vulnerable Populations. Among various findings and recommendations, the report details a proposal for a credit under Social Security for caregivers who take years out of the paid workforce to care for children or ill or aging relatives.
2013 – Marriage equality legislation is introduced in Illinois, Rhode Island and Minnesota; NOW members worked to pass these bills. Minnesota introduces a marriage equality bill and holds a huge rally in the capitol; MN NOW works hard to successfully defeat an amendment to ban same-sex marriage the past November.
2014 – NOW urges passage of legislation offered by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand that would require an independent prosecutor in military sexual assault cases; NOW has advocated for survivors of military sexual assault since the 1980s. The senator’s proposal for an experienced, Independent prosecutor – out of the chain of command – to investigate and prosecute sexual assault cases fails a Senate vote and again in 2015. In 2016, the Senate leadership refuses to allow a vote on Gillibrand’s bill, the Military Justice Improvement Act.
2014, June 26 – NOW decries a Supreme Court ruling in McCullen v. Coakley which finds that a 35 foot buffer zone around a Massachusetts women’s health clinic violates the First Amendment because it limits free speech too broadly. NOW President Terry O’Neill calls for Chief Justice John Roberts to limit his enormous buffer zone that surrounds the Supreme Court building. The free speech assertion appears to be the path that conservative, anti-abortion rights justices are taking to limit clinic buffer zones, thus permitting anti-abortion extremists to have closer access to patients in order to harass, intimidate and sometimes attack patients. The ruling weakens the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE) which was adopted in the early 1990s as a defense against the thousands of attacks, including several murders, that had been made against women’s clinics, personnel and volunteer escorts up to that time.
2014, August – Along with other activists for immigration reform, NOW President Terry O’Neill is arrested in front of the White House in protest of deportation and separation of immigrant families. O’Neill states that the U.S. immigration system is discriminatory against women and must protect women and children fleeing from violence. O’Neill and fellow arrestees are released later in the day.
2014 – NOW President Terry O’Neill calls out conservative, anti-reproductive rights groups efforts in trying to undermine the Affordable Care Act’s mandate for insurance coverage of contraception. More than 100 lawsuits against the contraceptive coverage mandate have been filed in federal courts, by both for-profit companies and religiously affiliated non-profits, as coordinated by ultra-conservative legal advocacy firms and religious non-profits, mostly relating to the Catholic Church.
2014 – The NOW Foundation-inspired National Coalition for Immigrant Women’s Rights lobbies diligently for improvements in immigration reform legislation and health care access for immigrant women and children. Although advocates for immigrant families were adroit in making their case, legislation failed to pass in a Congress controlled by conservative Republicans.
2014 – NOW Foundation signs on to an Amicus brief in the case of Hobby Lobby v. Burwell (originally Hobby Lobby v. Sibelius) in which for-profit companies are challenging the contraceptive mandate under the Affordable Care Act. The companies are claiming that complying with the mandate violates their religious liberty. More than 50 for-profit entities have brought suit against the ACA in a well-organized attack on the ACA’s mandate.
2014, June 30 – Women’s contraceptive access advocates, including NOW, are shocked to hear the Supreme Court’s ruling in Hobby Lobby v. Burwell which rules that the contraceptive insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act violates for-profit, “closely held” companies’ religious liberty. In other words, the conservative majority on the Court is attributing religious belief to a corporate (non-human) entity. The impact of this unwise decision will be felt across the nation when individuals and organizations claim a religious liberty violation to avoid serving LGBTQIA persons and when have to comply with laws and regulations they don’t like. A poorly construed federal law, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, plays a role.
2014, September – NOW takes a prominent role in calling out the National Football League for its failure to acknowledge and address its domestic violence problems among players. NOW President Terry O’Neill called for (NFL) Commissioner Roger Goodell to step aside for his failure to deal with the issue. O’Neill says, “As the largest and wealthiest sports organization in the U.S., the NFL ought to be a role model. It could show employers everywhere how to deal with domestic violence when it occurs in their institution, and what policies and core values can prevent it.” The NFL later meets with domestic violence program advocates and agrees to fund programs to educate players and team managers.
2014 – Former Feminist Lawyer, Author and National NOW president Karen DeCrow passes away at age 76 – champion of equal access. A New York Times obituary notes, “Karen DeCrow…was president of the National Organization for Women during the 1970s, a turbulent period in which she helped lead campaigns for passage of the Equal Rights Amendment and against sex discrimination in education and sports… Her causes were national but also local. In the early 1970s, she represented a 7-year-old girl who wanted to play Little League but was denied.” As NOW president (1974-1977), Karen “fought off pressure from the National Collegiate Athletic Association to limit the reach of Title IX. Her work led to a strengthening of Title IX to assure equal access to sports and has been credited with revolutionizing women’s athletics.” During the 1970’s and early 1980s Karen travelled widely in support of ERA ratification, frequently debating Phyllis Schlafly – an arch ERA opponent.
2014 – NOW Foundation publishes a White Paper on the Equal Rights Amendment. The paper calls for a broad interpretation of the ERA’s application to assure protection against initiatives to limit women’s access to reproductive health care, including abortion care and contraceptive access. The White Paper asserts that any such restrictions are sex-based discrimination that should be prohibited; the effort in support of three more states to ratify the ERA continues. The work was supported by a $10,000 grant from the The Education Foundation of America.
2014 – NOW and allies meet with FDA officials concerning a much-delayed review process for a new drug that treats women’s low or absent sexual libido which the Food and Drug Administration has twice rejected. NOW does not advocate specifically for approval of the drug, flibanserin, but questions whether a double standard may be at play. Viagra, the male erectile dysfunction drug, was speeded through the review process in just a few months and without an FDA Advisory Committee review.
2014 – NOW works closely with a coalition coordinated by the African American Policy Forum (AAPF) that focuses on issues of intersectionality regarding sex- and race-based discrimination and violence. Their efforts seek to educate the public and government leaders about killings by police of Black women, sex-for-favors (rape) by police of Black women and sexual abuse of incarcerated Black women.
2014 – NOW President Terry O’Neill speaks out with the African American Policy Forum activists and allies about the many barriers confronting African-American girls and young women as they grow up – including excessive disciplinary practices at school and sexual abuse affecting a high proportion of girls of color which often leads to failure to graduate and problems with law enforcement.
2014 – NOW’s Marriage Equality National Action Campaign shifts to building public support through visibility, media, and education as the fight for marriage equality moved from state legislation and ballot initiatives to the courts. This appears to be effective as 55% of Americans reportedly supported marriage equality, compared to just 35% in 2001. At the National Action Center, we track court cases and mobilize activists to attend rallies, especially when court cases are being heard.
2014 – NOW develops an educational program designed to persuade the moveable middle in states without marriage equality. This program was implemented by activists who facilitated advocacy trainings in their communities. NOW worked to identify volunteers and target communities that would most benefit from these trainings.
2014 – Chicago and Illinois NOW members work diligently on this nearly successful effort to have the state become the 36th to ratify the federal Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). The Illinois Senate passes the ratification measure; but a House vote on ratification during a special session is postponed lacking only a few votes for passage. Reportedly, the few votes were lost when Phyllis Schlafly acolytes told anti-choice legislators that the ERA would protect abortion rights. Activists vow to bring the ERA up again in a future session.
2014 – NOW leaders in Oregon help bring about a victory in November when an overwhelming majority of voters approve the adoption of a state Equal Rights Amendment. This success was achieved despite opposition from the state ACLU, but with the tacit support of four retired State Supreme Court judges who sign a letter saying that a constitutional amendment is needed to better protect equal rights.
2014 – 2015 – NOW with allies helps to organize and participate in a series of standing-room-only Congressional briefings about the Equal Rights Amendment. With the help of Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) who is sponsoring legislation to remove the ratification deadline from the 1972 resolution, thus opening the possibility of ratification by three more states being sufficient. We discuss Cardin’s bill, along with one offered by long-time ERA campaigner Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) which contains a new sentence in Section 1, “Women shall have Equal Rights in the United States and every place subject to its jurisdiction.” Feminist legal theorist, Catharine MacKinnon, suggests the addition to Maloney as a way to make clear that it is women who are most frequently discriminated against.
2014-2016 – NOW and allies call upon the Obama administration to amend the My Brothers’ Keeper (MBK) national campaign which provides educational programs and mentoring of boys and young men of color, to also include equal programs for girls and young women of color. NOW points to evidence of very few differences between minority boys and girls socio-economically and in educational achievement girls of color are equally in need of services being offered to boys of color.
2014, December 1 – For years, women’s equal education advocates including NOW asked the Department of Education to issue an official clarification on single-sex education under Title IX. The George W. Bush administration had issued a regulation appearing to give schools more latitude in establishing single-sex schools and classes, but at the same time requiring that equal co-ed education programs be offered. In recent years, there had been a push by conservative activists to promote sex-segregated education, asserting (falsely) that boys and girls learning styles are different. The DoEd issued a guidance for k-12 schools on how to comply with Title IX in offering single-sex education programs.
2014 – NOW launches FYI NOW, an e-update for NOW leaders, as written, edited by NOW VP Bonnie Grabenhofer and NOW Government Relations Director, Jan Erickson. NOW’s long-running News and Action Summary, newly-titled What’s Happening NOW, is sent out electronically every month, summarizing activities and highlights of that month.
2014 – NOW PAC endorses 146 candidates for elective office; 92 win.
2015, January 22 – As It has for many years, NOW holds its “peaceful presence” at the Supreme Court on the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision. NOW activists and allies gather on the sidewalk below the Court and carry signs which underscore the critical importance of keeping abortion safe and legal. Opponents are also present as they converge on Washington for their March for Life events.
2015, March 25 – NOW previously joined in an amicus brief for the plaintiff in Young v. UPS. The Supreme Court hands down a limited ruling in favor of Peggy Young, a UPS driver who claimed that she was illegally discriminated against under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act when she was denied a workplace accommodation that was made available to other employees with similar physical restrictions. The Court remanded the case to the lower court but the upshot is that the Court’s holding restores protection that pregnant workers should have had by statute, but were being denied by many federal courts. Additional legislation is still needed.
2015 – By now, many members of both the House and Senate have co-sponsored various Social Security expansion bills, signaling growing support of this NOW-initiated effort. Additionally, several members including Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Rep. Patrick Murphy (D- Fla.) are moving forward with legislation to create a credit under Social Security that would recognize caregivers’ time spent out of the paid workforce and have that be supplemented for a person’s work record for purposes of calculating retirement benefits.
2015 – The Obama administration does not change My Brother’s Keeper to include equal programs for girls, but proposes instead a mentoring program for girls and young women of color – which did not meet with satisfaction from NOW and allies who vow to continue efforts to see that girls and young women are included.
2015, May 7 – NOW submits a letter to D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, city council members and D.C. education officials, objecting to a proposed high school for boys-only, noting that Title IX prohibits the use of federal funding by educational institution receiving federal funds for programs that unjustifiably discriminate by sex. The letter is accompanied by several key studies documenting the educational needs of girls of color and the many barriers they face in the District and elsewhere. Their achievement scores are very close to those of boys of color in the district.
2015, June 26 – NOW celebrates the national legalization of marriage equality on June with the Supreme Court 5-4 ruling in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges. The Court rules that the fundamental right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples by both the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. NOW President Terry O’Neill states, “It is a great day for same-sex couples and for the United States to finally recognize that all loving, committed couples have an equal right to marry. Same-sex couples and their families will now have the respect that their relationships deserve. I am proud of the work NOW did to help achieve this victory As early as 1995, NOW declared that marriage is a fundamental right that must not be denied to same-sex couples.”
2015, June – NOW testifies at an FDA Advisory Committee Meeting, flibanserin (Addyi), urging that the committee recognize that women’s complaints about having no sexual desire be taken seriously, noting that this physical condition (hypoactive sexual desire disorder) has been recognized in the medical community for years and no safe and effective treatment is available. A majority of FDA Advisory Committee members vote to approve the drug, but with temporary limitations on marketing and certain cautions about usage.
2015 – A Town Hall hosted by the African American Policy Forum is held just prior to the National NOW Conference in New Orleans and is attended by NOW conference attendees. Local speakers from social service programs and the education field talk about the many challenges faced by women and particularly women of color in New Orleans. Of particular concern are reports about how thousands of local teachers (many women of color) were laid off following Hurricane Katrina and were replaced by Teach for American beginning teachers from other states. Also discussed were various punitive policies and laws concerning persons involved in prostitution and transgender persons.
2015 – The National NOW Conference in New Orleans focuses on NOW structure modernization, the result of several years of study and discussion by NOW leaders and activist members. A plan to move forward with a streamlined board and bylaws changes is adopted.
2015 – NOW speaks out strongly in support of the confirmation of Loretta Lynch as U.S. Attorney General. After five months of foot-dragging, Republican Senate leaders agreed to take up her nomination and ultimately Lynch, the first African-American woman to hold this important position, was confirmed.
2015, July 14 – NOW President Terry O’Neill speaks at a press conference with Congressional leaders to announce that petitions signed by two million supporters of increasing Social Security benefits are being delivered to members of Congress. There are now more than a dozen bills before Congress that would improve benefits and assure Social Security’s long term financial security, and some include the caregiver credit. This is a clear victory for NOW.
2015, December 3 – The Department of Defense announces that all combat positions would be open to women. This is a solid victory for NOW in that early in our history, the organization advocated to open combat-related positions in the military for qualified women. Having combat experience is an important component for service members who wish to be promoted in their military careers.
2015, January – NOW President Terry O’Neill travels to Oklahoma City for the sentencing of policeman Daniel Holtzclaw who was found guilty of sexually assaulting 13 African American women in the neighborhood he patrolled. Holzclaw, a former football star, was found guilty and convicted on 18 of the 36 counts he was charged with and sentenced to 236 years in prison. O’Neill said that she believed the presence of so many advocates for the survivors helped in assuring an appropriate sentence. Additionally, she noted that the” defense’s strategy of re-victimizing the victims by parading their criminal records and past drug abuse was part and parcel of rape culture.”
2015, April 12 – With not a minute to waste, NOW PAC endorses and begins organizing for Hillary Clinton once she announced her intention to run for president of the United States. NOW PAC’s cites former senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s record as a leader in the fight for the elimination of violence against women, for her support of economic justice and combatting economic inequality, for supporting full reproductive rights without restrictions, her commitment to fighting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity and her many other positions that are in accord with feminist values.
2015, Fall – 2016, Spring – Under the coordination of NOW Vice President Bonnie Grabenhofer, NOW PAC recruits volunteers to work in targeted primary and caucus states. Aided by NOW consultant Pat Reuss, 150 volunteers place phone calls in excess of 15, 000 to NOW members. Numerous uncounted NOW activists on their own call and go door to door for Hillary. A massive email message campaign is conducted. NOW members gather for debate watch parties. Former NOW board member, Gay Bruhn, develops overall structure and strategy for the campaign, designs flyers, a website and a button for Ms. President NOW. Fact sheets and talking points are posted online, information is included on a public Facebook page, guidance for NOW members and chapters on how to comply with election law while working for Hillary and a House Party Guide are posted online, along with many other useful pieces of organizing information. Flyers/ handouts are available on nowpac.org. Organizing documents are on the NOW Leaders page under Action. http://now.org/for-now-leaders/
1995 to 2015 – Reproductive rights advocates, including NOW, see an alarming trend in the immense number of anti-abortion rights measures being passed in Republican- controlled states in recent years. From 2010 to 2015 states enacted 232 restrictive abortion rights measures; this is contrasted against a total of 18 anti-choice measures that were enacted in 1995. All totaled over that 21 year period, 876 measures (several provisions can be included in a single bill, but are counted separately) have been adopted. It is primarily the Republican-dominated state legislatures that are promoting these restrictive bills, but some left-leaning states have passed bad bills as well. In 2015, 22 states adopted anti-choice legislation. Since 2004 a total of 404 pro-choice measures have been adopted in a total of 19 states.
2016, January to June – NOW PAC’s spectacular campaign, Ms. President NOW, continues at an accelerated pace, resulting in Hillary Clinton’s emergence as the presumptive nominee for the Democratic party. NOW members have been working steadily in their states to keep up the momentum. At the March NOW board meeting, Vice President Bonnie Grabenhofer, Ms. President NOW campaign coordinator, reported that email messages and phone calls were made to nine of the early caucus states with about 70 callers making approximately 6,000 phone calls. Since then the campaign sent emails and/or coordinated phone calls to all or targeted parts of VA, NC, OH, WA, NY, VA, CT, IL, DE, RI, PA, MD, WY, MT, and CA making another 9,000 calls. Of special note, many NOW leaders have been selected to run as Hillary delegate candidates or been appointed to leadership teams. As of June 21, 15 NOW leaders from 11 states are delegates or in the process of seeking selection as a delegate or on the Hillary for America Leadership Teams
2006 – 2016 – Going back even before 2006, NOW Foundation is a key member of a coalition which advocates for strong women and minority representation and ownership in media. Aided by the Institute for Public Representation, Georgetown University Law Center, NOW Foundation and allied organizations submit briefs and formal comments in important cases related to Federal Communications Commission policy, regulations and reports. Most recently, the Third Circuit issued a decision in a case (Prometheus III) where the court took the FCC to task for unreasonably delaying efforts to promote racial and gender diversity in broadcast station ownership. The court also directed that the Institute for Public Representation engage in a 60-day mediation process to set a timetable for reaching final agency action to determine an “eligible agency definition.” And the court also vacated an earlier FCC decision about Joint Sales Agreements regarding which media organizations in the same locality may own multiple media outlets.
2016, February – Virginia Senate passes ERA ratification measure, but Senate Republicans later undo that successful vote in retribution for Democratic action on an unrelated bill. Thanks should be given to Virginia NOW activists who have faithfully lobbied legislators every term and asked for an ERA measure to be introduced, reviewed and reported out of committee and sent to a floor vote. But as we see, the ERA vote became the vehicle for political retaliation. So, it is back to re-introduction and more lobbying in 2017.
2016 – NOW is asked by Sewall-Belmont House & Museum to send a letter of support to President Obama for designation of Sewall-Belmont House & Museum as a national monument within the National Park Service. The president has the authority to make that designation on his own under the Antiquities Act. NOW sends the letter making that strong recommendation and a NOW representative attended a public hearing which heard unanimous support from dozens of organizations for inclusion of Sewall-Belmont in the park service. Sewall-Belmont House is the historic location on Capitol Hill of the National Woman’s Party (NWP) since 1929 and has an extensive collection of suffrage and equal rights artifacts and documents that showcase the history of the women’s rights movement in the U.S. The collection will remain under control of the Sewall-Belmont museum entity.
2016, April 12 – Women’s history fans, including NOW leaders, are excited to hear President Obama announce that he has designated the Sewall-Belmont House as the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument. Former NOW Membership Vice President Chitra Panjabi, who at one time worked at Sewall-Belmont, introduces the president. In his prepared remarks the president notes that Alice Paul wrote new language in 1943 for the Equal Rights Amendment at Sewall-Belmont and ”Paul with other NWP members drafted over 600 pieces of legislation in support of equal rights and advocated tirelessly for women’s political, social and economic equality not just in the United States but also internationally.”
2016, May 16 – NOW leaders are relieved – if only temporarily – when the Supreme Court vacated six Courts of Appeals rulings in Zubik v. Burwell and sent them back to the Appeal level. Most of the lower court rulings had been in support of having the non-profits comply with the law concerning the ACA’s requirement for insurance coverage for contraception and the accommodation where employees could obtain coverage through a third party. In an unusual move, the Supreme Court asked the parties to suggest alternative ways to comply and then turned the cases back to the lower courts for reconsideration. The death of Justice Antonin Scalia has left the Court with only eight members.
2016, June 1– President Obama announces his support for increasing Social Security benefits, marking a stark reversal from his previous position. The president tells a gathering in Indiana, “And we can start paying for it by asking the wealthiest Americans to contribute a little bit more. They can afford it. I can afford it.” This new position, we believe, is owed in large part to the advocacy of NOW (our idea, originally) and our allies who have lobbied members of Congress and the administration for the past years.
2016, June 1 – NOW welcomes Obama’s announcement. The change is a dramatic turn-around from his efforts to strike a “Grand Bargain” in 2012 with Republicans when he supported a change in the formula used to calculate annual cost-of-living adjustments. NOW and women’s rights groups campaigned ardently against the Chained CPI which would have reduced Social Security benefits cumulatively so that the oldest retirees would see their monthly income significantly reduced.
2016 – With New York State NOW and California NOW, national NOW speak out against Judge Aaron Persky in the Stanford University student rape case, endorsing an effort to recall the judge who handed down an inordinately light sentence of six months to convicted felon Brock Turner who sexually assaulted an unconscious woman. Turner’s charges carry a possible maximum sentence of 14 years; but Judge Persky saw fit to go lenient on the perpetrator who is a star athlete at Stanford.
2015 – 2016 –NOW and allies are appalled at the deceptive and inflammatory actions of Republican opponents of women’s reproductive rights and their quest to discredit Planned Parenthood and cut off federal funding to their clinics. Several House “investigations” into Planned Parenthood and its sales of fetal tissue have been conducted, despite the fact that multiple other investigations at the state level have found no wrong-doing on the part of Planned Parenthood. Two principals in the Center for Medical Progress, the fake company that made deceptive videos about Planned Parenthood, are charged with fraud.
2016, June ?? –NOW activists are waiting with baited breath. An important Supreme Court ruling may be announced at any moment in the Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt case where Texas TRAP laws have closed numerous women’s health clinics and the question of what constitutes an “undue burden” for women seeking an abortion will possibly be re-interpreted by the Court.
2016, June 24 – 26 – NOW leaders, members and supporters will gather in Washington, D.C. for the 50th Anniversary celebration, at our National NOW Conference, titled “Carrying the Torch Together.” A sparkling 50th Anniversary Gala will launch festivities, with presentation of our Gala’s Intrepid Awards to four outstanding women leaders. At this Forward Feminism Conference, NOW founders, former national presidents and early leaders will be recalling some of NOW’s history; distinguished feminists and women’s rights leaders will be honored with special awards. It promises to be a memorable anniversary.