Task Force on Legal and Political Rights – 1967

Goals:

*A campaign for women to assume equal rights and responsibilities as American citizens, including full participation in political decision-making in the power structure of the political parties, in the selection of candidates and the formation of national policy, in the holding of public office, and in service to the nation, including military service and jury service.

*A campaign for the abolition of ladies’ auxiliaries and any other separate-but-not-equal organizations which segregate women, or other forms of “special” representation of women, outside the decision-making mainstream in the Republican, Democratic or any other political party.

*A campaign to get women to run for political office and to run for membership in the regularly constituted party committees on all levels -local, state and national-and to seek assignments on committees concerned with all aspects of government – space, finance, and urban affairs-refusing to be segregated as “Chairman of Women’s Division,” or to be restricted to the kind of health and welfare post considered traditionally more suitable for women. On all other political issues, we may be quite divided among ourselves, nor will we campaign to elect any woman just because she is a woman – but we will campaign to support a woman, or man who actively fights for our basic interests, and to defeat any man or woman who betrays our interests, or gives mere lip service.

*We will do our best to awaken in the largest possible number of American voters an awareness of the basic interest of women’s unfinished equality, and a candidate’s record on it, as burning as we already know it to be in ourselves.

*Support federal civil rights legislation in 1967 which includes provisions prohibiting any distinction based on sex in selection of federal and state juries.

*Support and encourage women seeking to invoke their right to equal protection of the law under the United States Constitution, without discrimination based on sex, particularly in fields such as public employment, public education, laws and official practices which deny equal opportunity to women.

ACTION, FOLLOW THROUGH:

The continuing duty of the task force on legal and political rights

1. Review treatment of men and women in regard to their legal and political rights at the municipal, state and federal level.

2. Present the results of the review to the national executive committee of NOW for evaluation and plans for appropriate action.

Evidence of progress towards the stated goals of NOW should be given equal attention and credit should be given to appropriate authorities.

In 1963, it was noted in the Report of the Committee on Civil and Political Rights to the Presidents’ Commission on the Status of Women that the bulk of the subject matter of this Task Force is in the jurisdiction of the State Legislatures. Therefore, members of the Task Force on the state level should accumulate and channel information from as many sources as are available to the national executive committee of NOW. That committee should plan appropriate action which can be effected through mobilization of all the members in the state in question.

The nature of the information to which the task force should address itself should include state laws and city ordinances which treat women differently from men in a manner wholly untenable in the light of present day multiple activities for which women are entirely qualified.

It is strongly advised that a realistic attitude be adopted in the matter of changing state and local laws to meet the goals of NOW. Our laws are expressions of cultural patterns which are no longer acceptable to us. Changing them, however, may require a great deal of time during which a process of education proceeds. This serves to change the pattern and, in turn, builds pressure that finally achieves the goal.

Political Rights

Evidence indicates that a poor percentage of eligible women voters actually do vote. The task force should update the data on this subject, (obligations and rights should balance). Further, the Task Force should investigate the status and treatment of women within State Political Party organizations. State Party policy is usually reflected at the local level. Determine the degree to which the political party utilizes women at the policy level. The pattern in both major parties has been male chairmen and female vice-chairmen. This is a device which serves to structure the division and stereotype the activities of women within the party structure. If possible it would be useful to determine the ratio of financial contributions of male and female who are active in a party organization on a percentage basis.

Greater participation within the party structure will produce more party activists, candidates for office and voters.

Submitted by: Mrs. Janey Hart, Chairman