Part II – 1983

1953 | 1954 | 1955 | 1956 |1957 | 1958 | 1959
1960 | 1961 | 1962 | 1963 | 1964 | 1965 | 1966
1967 | 1968 | 1969 | 19701971 | 1972 | 1973
1974 | 1975 | 1976 | 1977 | 1978 | 1979 | 1980
1981 | 1982 | 1983 | 1984 | 1985 | 1986 | 1987
1988 | 1989 | 1990 | 1991 | 1992 | Epilogue, 1993


The ERA was reintroduced in the U.S. House of Representatives as H.J. Res. 1 by Democratic Party leadership (without consultation with organizations supporting ERA), with 210 sponsors that rose quickly to 232. In addition, four non-voting members of Congress from the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands signed on as co-sponsors. For the ERA to pass the House, 290 votes were required. (01/03/83)

Representative Ted Weiss (D-NY) reintroduced the Gay Civil Rights Bill in the 98th session of Congress. The bill, HR 427, would amend key sections of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 so that discrimination on the basis of “affectional or sexual orientation” would be prohibited. The prohibition would pertain to the areas of housing, employment, and public accommodations. In the Senate, Senator Paul Tsongas (D-MA) introduced a similar bill. (01/03/83)

NOW Annual Budget – $4,110,000 (1983)

A federal judge permanently barred the Department of Health and Human Services from implementing the “squeal rule” requiring government funded clinics to notify parents when teenagers seek prescription contraceptives. He said the regulation would cause irreparable harm by deterring sexually active adolescents from visiting family planning clinics. (02/14/83)

The Duarte (CA) Rotary Club, known as the Ex-Rotary club since their suspension for admitting women, lost its five year battle against sexism. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Max F. Deutz, basing his ruling solely on California law, refused to reinstate the club in Rotary International or to sanction the decision to include women members. (02/08/83)

Months after the defeat of the ERA, which opponents warned would make women subject to the draft, the Department of Defense (DOD) offered a little-noticed proposal that would make women eligible for the draft for the first time in American history as part of the plan to begin registering medical people again. The DOD proposed amending the old “Doctor’s Draft” codes by “striking out ‘males’ and inserting in place thereof ‘persons.'” Among the “persons” the DOD had in mind were female doctors, nurses, physical therapists, pharmacists, etc. between the ages of 18 1/2 and 46. Though anti-ERA forces had said this could only happen if the ERA became part of the Constitution, there never was any guarantee that women couldn’t be drafted. The U.S. Supreme Court decision that approved an all-male draft didn’t outlaw drafting women; it just left the decision up to Congress. (03/83)

NOW activists defeated almost all of the anti-abortion bills introduced in state legislatures this year. In the 1983 legislative sessions nearly 100 bills were introduced but fewer than 20 passed. (1983)

The United States Coast Guard unequivocally took the stand that women must be completely integrated into the Coast Guard. Policy officially stated, “It is not considered a practical matter to remove women from those Coast Guard cutters which might be assigned combat missions when operating with the Navy. Coast Guard women are an integral part of the crew and would be in various positions of responsibility. . . . The removal of these key personnel on short notice would weaken our military readiness capability and have major operational impact on some units.” (09/83)

The ERA failed by six votes to get a 2/3 majority in the U. S. House. The vote was 278-147. Six Democratic and six Republican co-sponsors voted against the ERA. (11/15/83)

In a landmark wage discrimination case, a Federal district judge ordered the State of Washington to pay an amount estimated at $838 million in immediate raises and back pay to women. Judge Jack Tanner ended three months of legal dispute in the case with this message to many women who worked for the state: “You win.” The pivot of the case was the “comparable worth” of the jobs in categories filled mostly by women and those in categories filled mostly by men. The judge based his decision on studies commissioned by the state, beginning in 1974, that showed women in predominantly female jobs were paid 20 to 30% less than men in jobs considered to be of equal value. (12/01/83)


Greater Rochester (NY) NOW started a reward fund to help find and arrest suspected rapists. The chapter started the fund because of the increasing number of rapes in the city including a recent case which involved a 67-year old woman who was sexually attacked in a church. (01/83)

United (MN) NOW (Minneapolis/ St. Paul) waged a campaign urging city bus riders to “Speak out against the threat to reproductive rights.” The chapter’s Reproductive Rights Committee, chaired by Sheila Knox, raised $750.00 and placed over 100 12″ x 24″ signs in the area’s mass transit buses. The signs urged readers to contact their Congress members and speak out against the anti-abortion bills circulating in Congress. (01/83)

Farm women of the 80’s remained full partners in their family businesses, according to a report issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “Farming is usually a family affair, shared. . . by husbands and wives,” said the survey of 2500 women farmers and 570 men. On livestock farms, the report said, two-thirds of farm wives help herd and milk dairy cows; 37% participate in plowing, cultivating and planting. (01/83)

Long Beach (CA) NOW prepared a flyer to be distributed to local teenagers explaining the exact implications and effects of the “squeal rule” or Parental Notification Law. The flyers not only explained the law, but encouraged teenagers to discuss birth control and sexual activity with their parents if that was possible. They emphasized responsibility on the part of the teenager in deciding to engage in sexual activity and gave information on where to go for help if they couldn’t discuss these problems with their parents. (04/83)

Four major organizations of physicians and nurses joined the U.S. Supreme Court debate over abortion, urging the Justices to declare unconstitutional the Akron, OH city ordinance. The four organizations filing the brief were the 235,000 member AMA; the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which represents 90% of the specialists in those fields, and its Nurses Association; and the American Academy of Pediatrics. (06/15/83)

The Hatch Amendment (Senate Joint Resolution 3) fell 18 votes short of the two-thirds majority needed to pass a constitutional amendment. By a vote of 50 to 49, the Republican-dominated Senate rejected the amendment, which read, “A right to abortion is not secured by this constitution.” Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC) voted “Present,” saying that the amendment failed to recognize “the unborn child’s inalienable right to life.” (06/28/83)

Physicist Sally Ride became the first American woman to travel in space. Ride served as a mission specialist when the space shuttle Challenger, which also carried four male astronauts, was launched on its second flight. (06/18-24/83)

Middlesex County (NJ) NOW helped a local Medical Care Center that was under siege by anti-abortion groups by providing an escort service for patients. Coordinator Debra Sabourin told the press, “Our reason for being here is to get the patients inside safely. We think a woman who walks in should not have to walk in alone. She should have a friend.” (08/83)

Joan Hackett, 49, critically acclaimed actress and NOW activist, died of cancer in California on October 8. An Oscar nominee in 1982 and winner of a 1982 Golden Globe Award for her role in the film, “Only When I Laugh,” Hackett became increasingly active in the ERA ratification campaign. She worked at many ERA fundraising events and made radio and television appearances as a ERA proponent. Hackett inscribed her photo in the 1979 NOW National Conference program book with this message: “NOW is the most consistent organization for me to contribute my energy and support. I am grateful for the courage and tenacity of all the women involved.” NOW representatives at her funeral included Toni Carabillo, Judith Meuli, and Sally Rosloff. (10/08/83)


A report by the Bureau of the Census showed that women were going to college in ever-increasing numbers, expanding their enrollment lead over men. In just 12 years the ratio of women to men students had changed dramatically, from 74 women per 100 men in 1972, to 108 women for every 100 men in 1981. (03/20/83)

The last all-male school in the Ivy League became co-educational when Columbia College enrolled women for the first time in its 229 year history. (08/83)


The Los Angeles docks expected an influx of women working as new members of the Longshore-men’s Union and the Marine Clerks union, as the result of a settlement of a two-year, class action sex discrimination suit brought by the Center for Law in the Public Interest. The Unions agreed that 315 of the next 900 dockworkers hired would be women. Marsha Kwalwasser of the Center noted that dock workers could expect to earn up to $40,000 per year. (01/83)

As a result of a coalition effort led by women in both houses of the legislature, Montana became the first state to ban sex discrimination in all types of insurance. The new law applied to auto, life, medical expenses, disability and old age income insurance. To get this landmark legislation passed, NOW state coordinator Dee Adams worked with State Senator Pat Regan, Representative Jan Brown, the bill’s sponsor; and House speaker Dan Kemmis. She also represented NOW on the board of the Women’s Lobbyist Fund, which coordinated legislative and grassroots activity by NOW chapters statewide; women’s networks from several cities; Business & Professional Women (BPW); Montana Lesbian Coalition, Montana Women’s Political Caucus; ERA Council; Pro-choice and Planned Parenthood. Other organizations supporting the legislation were AAUW, LWV, ACLU, Montana Federation of Teachers, Montana Education Association, Montana Democratic Women’s Clubs, Montana Senior Citizens Association, and Low Income Senior Citizens Association. Although resistance to the legislation by the insurance industry was intense, it escalated after enactment of the law. (03/04/83)

Delaware mothers had a much better chance to collect child support payments thanks to tough new legislation initiated by NOW. Under the new law a non-custodial parent’s wages would be attached automatically in new cases of court-ordered support payments. The court would put the wage attachment on hold for as long as payments were timely and regular. (03/06/83)

The 1983 Economic Equity Act, which contained proposals to reform discriminatory practices in insurance, pensions, tax policy, child support enforcement, day care, and federal regulations, was formally introduced in Congress. NOW endorsed the package, which had 91 co-sponsors in the House and 20 in the Senate. (03/14/83)

Montgomery County (MD) NOW, joined by other activists from Virginia and Maryland, drew media attention and sent reverberations through the insurance industry when they publicly protested a closed session on sex discrimination in insurance. The incident occurred at the spring meeting of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) in Baltimore. (04/83)

Porter County and La Porte County (IN) NOW assisted a group of Indiana waitresses in forming the National Association of Waitresses to lobby and negotiate for their rights. The waitresses were opposing a new IRS taxing regulation requiring restaurant owners to report 8% of gross sales for taxing purposes on employees’ tip income. Some employers were reportedly withholding the difference between the 8% figure and reported tips from employees’ paychecks, regardless of the amount of tips the employee earned. As a result, some waitresses were receiving paychecks with a net earning of less than one dollar per hour, and, in a few cases, zero earnings. (04/83)NOW’s National Day of Protest against the insurance industry’s opposition to equality for women resulted in over 50 insurance pickets from coast to coast. Hundreds of NOW activists successfully sent a message to their communities, from Santa Fe, NM, to New York City; sex discrimination in insurance, as in anything else, hurts women. Legislation that would outlaw sex discrimination in insurance (HR 100 in the House and 5. 372 in the Senate) was strongly supported by NOW because it would require insurance rates to be based on factors other than sex, and women would benefit economically. (06/08/83)

A new study on auto insurance rates by the National Insurance Consumer Organization (NICO) confirmed NOW’s claim that sex discrimination in insurance cost women over $1 billion a year, and destroyed the insurance industry’s threat that sex neutral rates required by H.R. 100/S. 372 would end price “breaks” for women. (7/25/83)

Dozens of NOW chapters across the country participated in a “National Day of Protest” against Allstate Insurance for employment discrimination. A major class action lawsuit charging Allstate with violations of the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act was filed by two Northeast Indiana (Fort Wayne) NOW leaders, Sue Thomas and Sharon Stewart, Allstate sales agents who found that despite sales records that were superior to their male peers, the men were paid $9 -$10,000 more per year. Thomas’s and Stewart’s discrimination complaint was joined with a nine-year old class action Title VII suit filed in California. (11/16/83)

The House of Representatives voted unanimously to require states to withhold tax refunds from delinquent parents with children on welfare, and allowed them to withhold such refunds from delinquent parents whose children were not on welfare. It also enabled states to put liens on the real and personal property of those in arrears, and to report delinquent payments exceeding $1,000 to credit bureaus. (12/83)


A poll of editors of Roman Catholic newspapers and magazines found that 49.5% thought the church should ordain women to the priesthood and 39.6% were opposed. (04/83)

Utah NOW sponsored a candlelight vigil at Temple Square in Salt Lake City. The purpose of the vigil was to reaffirm NOW’s determination to continue the fight for women’s equality and to protest the Church of the Latter Day Saints’ involvement in ERA politics. (04/02/83)

Twelve hundred Roman Catholic women gathered in Chicago to express their frustration with Pope John Paul II’s conservative policies on feminist issues and to seek ways to expand women’s rights and role in the church. The “Woman Church Speaks” conference was the first major gathering of an emerging coalition of activist Catholic women’s groups. (11/12-13/83)


Santa Barbara (CA) NOW and the National Women’s Political Caucus arranged speaking engagements and fundraisers to aid a TV newscaster who lost her job because she was deemed “too unattractive, too old and not deferential enough to men.” Christine Craft, a 38-year old former Kansas City, MO, news anchor, then working at station KEYT in Santa Barbara, CA, filed a $1 million lawsuit against KMBC, ABC’s Kansas City affiliate. The suit sought back pay, lost benefits, attorneys fees and recovery of the job. (01/83)

More than 63% of respondents to a Glamour magazine survey still supported a federal Equal Rights Amendment, and even more -70% – felt abortion was a matter of personal choice. These opinions were combined with a disapproval of premarital sex (by 51%) and a reiteration of strong personal commitments to raising a family (90%)- but 84% believed that a woman need not marry and have children to be fulfilled. (01/83)

Former NOW President Eleanor Smeal began publication of the Eleanor Smeal Report, a twice monthly insiders report on the feminist movement. (06/10) She also celebrated the official opening of her consulting firm, Eleanor Smeal and Associates. (06/17/83)

Los Angeles (CA) NOW aired its new cable show, a half hour news show, called “Women NOW” which gave updates on feminist issues via Communicom Access Channel and Valley Cable. The first program included a discussion of the Insurance Equity Act with Sally Rosloff, Los Angeles NOW President. (07/83)


Pennsylvania NOW participated as amicus curiae on behalf of three young women challenging the sex-based admission policy of Philadelphia’s Central High School. The women wanted to complete their high school education at Central because Central, which at the time admitted only males, offered the best academic education of Philadelphia’s public schools. The lawsuit was brought under the Pennsylvania Equal Rights Amendment as well as the 14th Amendment of the Constitution. (01/83)

In an amicus curiae brief filed before the U. S. Supreme Court, NOW and other women’s groups urged the Court to up-hold an order protecting minority hiring goals in Boston’s Police and Fire Departments. The case, Boston Firefighters Union, Local 718 v. Boston Chapter, NAACP and companion cases, arose because the City had announced a program of layoffs that, as originally planned, would have drastically reduced Black and Hispanic representation in those departments. (02/83)

Connecticut NOW won a significant court decision establishing the right to permanently petition in the Westarms Mall, one of the state’s largest shopping malls. The decision was based on the right to free speech guaranteed by the state, not the federal, constitution. (03/83)

The U.S. Supreme Court stood firmly behind its 1973 abortion decision and ruled 6 – 3 that government could not interfere with this “fundamental right” of women unless it was clearly justified by “accepted medical practice.” The court struck down laws, similar to those in 22 states, that required hospitals, rather than clinics, to perform abortions after the first three months of pregnancy. They also invalidated an Akron, Ohio ordinance requiring a 24 hour waiting period and elaborate “informed consent” procedures before an abortion could be performed, and special “decent burial” rules for disposal of the fetus afterward. (06/15/83)

A New Jersey task force on sex discrimination in courts said that women were treated unequally both as lawyers and in judges’ decisions. (11/21/83)


The Republicans got the bad news in a 12-page memo prepared by Ronald H. Hinckley, a special assistant in the White House Office of Planning and Evaluation. He concluded that women had a far lower opinion of President Reagan than men did, that a Gender Gap had helped Democrats in the November election, and that it “could prove dangerous for Republicans in 1984.” (01/83)

NOW announced plans to hold its 1984 convention in Miami Beach (FL), ending a six year boycott over Florida’s failure to ratify the ERA. Miami Beach officials, who complained that the boycott cost the city $20 million in convention cancellations, hailed the development. (05/09/83)

Former Representative Robert E. Bauman, a “New Right” Republican from Maryland, and past president of the American Conservative Union, announced at the American Bar Association convention that he would actively lobby for Federal legislation to protect homosexual men and women from discrimination. Bauman, once a rising star of the Right, lost his bid for re-election in 1980 after being arrested on a morals charge-soliciting sex from a teenage boy. (08/02/83)

San Diego (CA) NOW organized more than 500 demonstrators to protest President Reagan’s appearance in San Diego before a group of Republican women. Los Angeles NOW rented a bus to enable a group of Los Angeles activists to participate in the demonstration. ((08/26/83)

In 1971 there were 362 women state legislators, in 1983 there were 992. There were only seven women mayors of cities with more than 30,000 population in 1971, representing only 1% of the total. In 1983 there were 76 women mayors. The number of women in congress had doubled since 1971, though still miniscule. There are 24, two in the Senate and 22 in the House (4.3%), compared to 11 women in Congress in 1971. (09/83)

President Reagan finally unveiled a major component of his much-touted and long-secret “Equal Rights Amendment alternative” two weeks after NOW filed a Freedom of Information Act request demanding disclosure of Justice Department documents identifying sex discriminatory laws in the Federal code. The Third Quarterly Report of the Attorney General’s Gender Discrimination Agency Review identified 140 federal laws that contained gender-based distinctions. Reagan released the report with recommendations to correct 47 of the discriminatory statutes. Assistant Attorney General William Bradford Reynolds admitted that the recommendations were “inconsequential” and “cosmetic.” NOW President Judy Goldsmith called Reagan’s proposals “painfully inadequate.” (09/83)

More than 500 activists attended a conference where they explored the Gender Gap and how it could affect the outcome of Kentucky’s statewide elections as well as the 1984 state legislative session. NWPC National Chair Kathy Wilson keynoted the session sponsored by the Kentucky Commission on Women and the AAUW with 35 co-sponsoring women’s civil right and other progressive groups. Women registered to vote outnumbered men in Kentucky by 64,000. (10/01/83)

In a parliamentary maneuver designed to prevent amendments to the ERA, Tip O’Neill and the Democratic House leadership brought the ERA to the floor under a suspension of the House rules. Under this procedure no amendments were allowed and each side had only 20 minutes for debate. Once again, as in the state legislatures, some Representatives pledged to support the ERA voted “no,” including 14 co-sponsors-just enough to make the Amendment fall short of the required 2/3 vote by six votes. The vote was along Party lines with 84% of Democrats voting for it while only 32% of the Republicans did so. (11/15/83)

The Backlash

Both Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Jesse Helms (R-NC) reintroduced their anti-abortion legislation in the 98th Congress, but the major concern in the Senate was a proposal to return the abortion issue to the states. Senator Hatch reintroduced the Human Life Federalism Amendment as it was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1982. (01/83)

Health & Human Services (HHS) Secretary Richard Schweiker announced his intention to implement the “squeal rule” that required the nation’s 5,000 federally funded family planning clinics to notify parents of requests by their daughters under age 18 for contraceptives, including birth control pills, diaphragms, or intrauterine devices. Schweiker said that Marjory Mecklenberg would become director of all HHS family planning programs. Mecklenberg, the former head of an anti-abortion group, initiated the parental notification concept. (01/10/83)

President Reagan’s nominee for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) board of directors, Henel Marie Taylor, was a director of Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum and a contributor to the Christian Broadcast Network and Moral Majority. (02/83)

A new Right wing group called “Renaissance Women” was organized with Nina May as its chair. (1983)

The insurance industry, launched a multi-million dollar media campaign to oppose legislation that would outlaw sex discrimination in insurance. Umbrella groups representing major insurance companies placed full page ads in newspapers across the country, concentrating on major national papers and those in the home districts of House and Senate Committee members. (05/83)

After 10 years of weekly anti-abortion pickets and protests, an arsonist got into the second story of the Hillcrest Clinic in Norfolk, VA, and used kerosene to set fire to the offices. The Vice President of the Virginia Society of Human Life told the press that “we rejoice” at the news of the fires. Damages totalled approximately $140,000. The clinic was forced to install a security and alarm system costing $3,500. (05/26/83)

The Women’s Electoral Lobby of Perth, Australia, reported that Phyllis Schlafly had been visiting the Eastern Australia states. Her purpose: to undermine the ratification of the “U.N. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.” (06/83)

Reagan’s Department of Education dismissed or reassigned all five women in the Women’s Educational Equity Act Program. Five mid-level male employees would reportedly keep their jobs with the program. According to the project’s director Leslie Wolfe, the program would be “Down-graded into a tiny section under a branch under a division under the office that administers the block grants.” (08/83)

More than 20 anti-abortion spokesmen lined up against Planned Parenthood in an effort to have it ruled ineligible for the government’s version of the United Way. In an emotional meeting before the eligibility committee of the Combined Federal Campaign, the anti-abortion groups said Planned Parenthood failed to meet financial and other criteria. (08/31/83)

Pope John Paul II called on United States bishops to promote “natural” family planning – the so-called rhythm method of periodic abstinence-and repeated his condemnation of artificial birth control. Surveys showed that nearly 80% of Catholic women in the United States use contraceptives. ((09/24/83)

Eagle Forum leader Phyllis Schlafly dragged out all her old objections to the ERA in testimony before the House Subcommittee on Civil and Constitutional Rights. She also unveiled a new brochure entitled “The ERA-Gay-AIDS Connection,” carrying the parade of horribles she alleged the ERA would cause to a new and irresponsible extreme. (10/20/83)

Hawley Atkinson, the top elected official in Maricopa County (Az) said he wouldn’t resign despite the furor created by his “facetious” remark that homosexuals should be used to replace animals in medical experiments. (12/08/83)

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