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1977 National Women's Conference: A Question of Choices
  • Map
  • Highlights
    Reporter Susan Caudill describes the resolutions of the conference
    Caudill describes the Women's Movement
    Caudill describes the 1977 conference and the women in attendance
    International delegates at the conference
    Statistics that support the Equal Rights Amendment
    Bella Savitsky Abzug
    Barbara Jordan
    Joan M. Gubbins
    Gloria Steinem
    Phyllis Schlafly
    Cecilia Preciado Burciaga
    Mary Anne Krupsak
    Eleanor Smeal
    Liz Carpenter
    Gloria Scott leads off first plenary session
    First Lady Rosalynn Carter speaks
    First Lady Betty Ford speaks
    Women Olympians carry a torch for women
    Olympic skier Suzanne Chaffee (right)
    Lady Bird Johnson, Rosalynn Carter, Betty Ford, and Bella Abzug (L-R)
    Gloria Scott uses Susan B. Anthony's gavel
    Bella Abzug speaks
    First Lady Lady Bird Johnson speaks
    Barbara Jordan speaks
    Caucuses meet
    Civil rights activist Carmen Delgado Votaw leads the Hispanic Caucus meeting. Following the conference, President Jimmy Carter appointed Votaw co-chair of the National Advisory Committee on Women. She also served as president of the Interamerican Commission of Women of the Organization of American States from 1979 to 1980.
    The general assembly meets
    Audrey Colom proposes a motion to pass a resolution on child care
    Claire Randall proposes a motion to pass a resolution that the ERA should be ratified
    Travis County Commissioner (and future Texas State Treasurer and Governor) Ann Richards speaks in support of the ERA
    Caridee Wheeler proposes motion to pass a resolution on reproductive freedom
    Cecilia Burciaga proposes a motion to pass a resolution on insurance
    Gloria Steinem proposes a motion to pass a resolution on health
    Lenore Hershey proposes a motion to pass a resolution on homemakers
    Jean O'Leary proposes a motion to pass a resolution on sexual preference
    Maxine Waters proposes a motion from the United Minority Caucus to substitute a resolution on minority women
    Coretta Scott King speaks on behalf of the Black women in America
    Protestors of the NWC assemble at the Astrodome
    Lottie Beth Bobbs speaks against the NWC
    Nellie Gray speaks against abortion
    Dr. Mildred Jefferson speaks against abortion
    Phyllis Schlafly speaks at protests against ERA
    U.S. Representative Bob Dornan condemns the NWC
    Susan Caudill reports on the closing plenary at the NWC
    Ruth Clusen proposes a motion to pass a resolution for a plan of action
    Addie Wyatt speaks, closes the session and conference
    Susan Claudill wraps up the documentary special
  • Educator links
    Section 1
    Section 2
  • Transcript
    CLAIRE RANDALL: I move the adoption of the following resolution, the Equal Rights Amendment should be ratified.
    NARRATOR: A special report from Houston, Texas, on the 1977 National Women's Conference.
    SUSAN CAUDILL: Good evening, I'm Susan Caudill. Tonight, the National Women's conference is history. A footnote, a chapter, or volumes, we don't yet know. Houston turned out and upside down for more than 33,000 women and men who came to participate or to protest the conference. It began with the United Nations and International Women's Year, IWY. All member nations were asked to examine women's rights. In this country, a presidentially appointed commission, with a $5 million appropriation and a congressional mandate, organized meetings in all 56 states and territories to shape the agenda and elect the delegates. Only in America, has this unique experiment in democracy been tried on such a scale with all the attendant warts and wonders of the process.
    This morning, after four days and sleepless nights of endless debate, hard labor, parliamentary muddles, confusion, caucuses around the clock, attacks from the right and from the left, consensus from women of widely divergent views was reached on all but one of the 26 resolutions. Overwhelming majorities approved wide ranging proposals, from national health insurance, the arts and humanities, battered women, childcare and child abuse, credit ,disabled women, education and affirmative action, homemakers rights, insurance, employment discrimination, reform of the news media, rape, the needs of older and rural women. And of course, the headline issues, support the Equal Rights Amendment, legal abortion, and lesbian rights. A comprehensive laundry list for American women.
    The American struggle for women's equality is as old as the Republic. It's as contemporary as this torch marathon run from the historic east to the Sunbelt city hosting the National Women's Conference. During America's two centuries the women's movement both endured and faltered. A handful of those enduring women and men organized the first women's rights convention in 1848 in Seneca Falls, New York. They endorsed a Declaration of Sentiments, not coincidentally patterned after the Declaration of Independence. Then, women were not persons, but property to father or husband. The women here represent the thousands who formed the long line of runners from Seneca Falls, over 2,600 miles across 14 states, officially opening the first government-sponsored convention on women's rights.
    The about 2000 voting delegates faced their first challenge before the conference began just finding rooms. Entire state delegations were displaced. Some voters camped out in hotel lobbies in corridors, standing in long, frustrating registration lines. Most of the delegates were elected from the state conventions. Others appointed by the IWY Commission and the commissioners themselves. Every ideology and style, religious preference, every racial and ethnic group, income, and age is represented. The American rainbow. Most are homemakers who also hold paying jobs. Some are the most distinguished women in America. Many have never before attended a political convention.
    International delegates from about 60 countries came too, to share their experiences about some of the issues of this conference. The news media discovered Seneca Falls South rather late in the story, but arrived in Houston over 1,500 strong to watch what may be the most diverse group of people ever officially assembled by a national government. The National Women's Conference drew thousands of women who came to Houston to observe, even if they could take no direct part in the voting. An overriding concern among many is that women are not truly valued in American society.
    Nationally, only five percent of all elected officials are women. Four percent in the House, none in the Senate. Only nine percent in the state houses. In the Carter administration, only two of the 12 cabinet positions are held by women. Women hold only 11 percent of the top policymaking jobs. Only 1.3 percent of federal judges are women. More women hold paying jobs than ever before—41 percent of the labor force. Yet for every dollar white men make, white women earn only 57 cents. For every 74 cents black men earn, black women earn only 55 cents. For every 72 cents Hispanic men earn, Hispanic women earn 49 cents. And the pay gap between the sexes is widening. As for working mothers, only one childcare space is available for every five children under six years old.
    The Equal Rights Amendment has been ratified by 35 states, but three more are needed and the movement is stalled. Nebraska, Tennessee, and Idaho have rescinded, although that may not be legal, and the remaining 15 have considered, but refused to ratify the amendment. The organizers, the people who work behind the scenes, the leaders who made the conference possible, include hundreds of women from all over the nation. A few—certainly not all—of the key players, some of the most visible conference leaders include:
    Bella Savitzky Abzug, one of the most energetic, controversial American politician. An explosion in the House of Representatives. Against the war in Vietnam. For civil rights, women's rights. After losing a bid for mayor of New York City, Abzug is the almost the full-time mother of the National Women's Conference. Her bill established, funded the state and national conferences. The Commission's presiding officer.
    Houston Democratic Congresswoman Barbara Jordan. Caught the nation's attention with her powerful oratory. No militant for black or women's rights, Jordan is both praised and condemned as a pragmatist. The keynote speaker.
    Indiana State Senator Joan Gubbins. Floor leader for the anti-ERA delegates, conservative Republican. Her Indiana campaign literature says she pushed bills requiring mandatory sentencing for welfare cheaters, the teaching of free enterprise in the public schools.
    Gloria Steinem of New York. Writer, granddaughter of an Ohio suffragist. The media star of the women's movement. Despite the media, a favorite with the rank and file. A founder of the National Women's Political Caucus, and a hard-working commissioner.
    Phyllis Schlafly of Alton, Illinois. The name makes feminists bristle. A Goldwater Republican, Chairman of Stop ERA and the Eagle Forum. Mrs Schlafly launched the Citizens Review Committee to oppose and watchdog the Commission. She is not a delegate, but her presence here is as real as anyone in attendance.
    Cecilia Preciado Burciaga from California. An assistant provost, Stanford University. Educator, former consultant to the US Commission on Civil Rights on a study on Mexican-American children, linking racism with sexism. Strong commissioner.
    Lieutenant Governor Mary Anne Krupsak of New York. Liberal Democrat. Welcomes feminist support but steers clear of identification with more radical feminists. Described as a well-schooled politician. A key presiding officer in Houston.
    Ellie Smeal of Pennsylvania. Homemaker, feminist activist. Working at her first paid job as the president of the National Organization for Women, the nation's largest, most controversial feminist organization. A strong feminist commissioner.
    Liz Carpenter, former press secretary to Lady Bird Johnson. Colorful speaker for the Equal Rights Amendment. Co-chair ERAmerica. Moderate in the women's movement. An outspoken commissioner on her home ground in Houston.
    Gloria Scott, national president of the Girl Scouts, head of the Houston committee, led off the first plenary session Saturday.
    GLORIA SCOTT: It is now my official pleasure to open this meeting of American women on the move.
    ROSALYNN CARTER: I'm proud to be part of this National Women's Conference. Never before in our history has there been such a women's meeting—in numbers, in preparation, in diversity, in long-range effect. The range of opinion, ethnic group, income, occupation represented here reflect our whole country. There have been a lot of disagreements and conflicts. There will be a lot of disagreements and conflicts. But I agree with my daughter-in-law Judy, that we must guard against obscuring valid issues with defensiveness and anger.
    BETTY FORD: We must keep focused on our goals. In business, in education, employment, politics, or in the home. We can have different interests. But we shouldn't be dismayed by the clash of opinions and ideas. Thank you again for having me here. I'm proud to be a part of it. So, let's keep it all together. Thank you.
    GLORIA SCOTT: This gavel was used by Susan B Anthony in 1896. This gavel has been loaned to this historic meeting here in Houston, Texas, by the Smithsonian Institution, the Division of Political History. Bella, may you preside with the true spirit of what this gavel means to American women, who are again on the move.
    BELLA ABZUG: The women's movement has become an indestructible part of American life. It is the homemaker deciding that raising children, cleaning, and cooking, and all the other things she does for her family is work that should be courted respect and value. It is the young woman student asserting that she wants to play baseball, carry a torch, major in physics, or become a brain surgeon. It is the working woman demanding that she get the same pay and promotion opportunities as a man. It is a divorced woman fighting for Social Security benefits in her own right. It is the widow embarking on a new career. It is the mother organizing a daycare center. It is the battered wife seeking help. It is the woman running for public office. It's the woman on welfare looking for a decent part of American society. In conclusion, I think of what a southern woman named Nellie Baltee Lewis wrote after the suffrage amendment of the constitution was finally ratified. She said, "The pedestal has crashed. There are many even now would patch the idol together. It was only an image, after all. But in its place as a woman of flesh and blood, not a queen or a saint nor a symbol, but a human being with human faults and human virtues. A woman still only slowly rising to full stature, but with the sun of freedom on her face." Let the sun of freedom shine in on our deliberations. And let us celebrate womanhood. And let us celebrate democracy. And let us celebrate women power. And let us make this conference the beginning of a stage in our quest for making democracy the thing it should be, and it should have been 200 years ago. We have that charge, we will make that charge work. This is the time that we will make sure women and men share equally in the greatness of America. Thank you very, very much.
    LADY BIRD JOHNSON: I once that the women's Movement belonged more to my daughters, than to me. But I have come to know that it belongs to women of all ages. I am proud to say and I want you to know that Texas was the ninth state to ratify the right of women to vote and the seventh state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment.
    BARBARA JORDAN: Women are human. We are united on that. When our rights are limited, when our rights are violated, we need a domestic human rights program. This conference could be the beginning of such an effort, an effort which would be enhanced if we would not allow ourselves to be brainwashed by people who predict payoffs for us, and failure for us. Tell them they lie, and move on. The cause of equal and human rights will reap what is sown November 18 through November 21, 1977. What will you reap? What will you sow?
    SUSAN CAUDILL: 48 hours before the gavel came down for voting, dozens of caucuses met almost around the clock—representing all kinds of special interests and ideologies—to plan floor strategy to support, amend, or oppose the National Plan of Action.
    HISPANIC CAUCUS DELEGATE 1: If you take the rest of the plan and read a few things, every now and then they mention Hispanic women, bilingual needs, etc. However, I still believe that we've got to have some very specific resolutions with respect to minority women in this country. They're not there.
    HISPANIC CAUCUS DELEGATE 2: We have made this recommendation. That when we do get together with the Puerto Rican caucus, the—whatever caucus we meet with, black, Asian—that we want to come up with some type of a recommendation...
    HISPANIC CAUCUS DELEGATE 1: We're going to reclarify what we're voting on. All those in favor of having, all those women attending the Latina Caucus have voting rights in this caucus, please stand.
    CARMEN DELGADO VOTAW: I think it's very important for you to bear in mind that the shortness of the minority resolution in that plan does not reflect a lack of concern or a lack of interest in the commissioners to do this. We did ask that we not be segregated into minority women on your own. That we wanted to be part of the mainstream of women. And we wanted to be included in every part of the plan that affected us.
    HISPANIC CAUCUS DELEGATE 3: In looking at the work that was done by the Commission, I don't think there will be any one group in the nation that will be totally happy with it. We better make certain that we do not open such a Pandora's box that we will end up with nothing.
    CARMEN DELGADO VOTAW: Those of you who are here, please volunteer for those issues that you are concerned about.
    ANTI-CHOICE DELEGATE 1: I want you to remember that, and I know you will, and that's why it's so great to work with you, that we are ladies and gentlemen. We are going to behave that way at all times, no matter what is said to us, no matter how anybody behaves to us. And I hope everybody else will be great to us too. But let's assume that maybe somebody will get out of line. I want you to smile. Okay. Now, the more you smile, the more upset they're going to get.
    ANTI-CHOICE DELEGATE 2: But they are asking the right and privilege of destroying the youngest member of the human family and asking us to condone and consent, and to this we will always say no. The family is the heart of the country.
    DELEGATE 1: I came because young women from my state were not represented as well as we found out that young women throughout the Midwest were not represented. And I'm a delegate-at-large.
    DELEGATE 2: I came to the conference because I feel like I'm on the bottom of the totem pole, as low as you can go is where we are.
    DELEGATE 3: And I came to this conference because it is basically my future that this whole conference is about.
    DELEGATE 4: All those in favor of prioritizing issues from IWY, To Form a More Perfect Union, or the proposed Plan of Action, signify by saying aye. [Aye] Opposed? [Opposed.]
    DELEGATE 5: I'm here because it's time that people found out that when God put us here he said we were equal, you know, it's time to start thinking about that.
    DELEGATE 6: ...deplore the representation of the Mississippi delegation because it does not reflect a cross section, a true cross section, of the population of state of Mississippi.
    DELEGATE 7: Organizing in terms of letting people know that the meeting was going on, doing the publicity, telling them what it was about, and asking them to come out on a fair and equal process, I feel was not done adequately in the state of Wisconsin, let alone Mississippi. So I feel that's where we should protest.
    DELEGATE 8: The motion has been restated. I think people are all on the same wavelength now All those in favor of the motion, please raise your hands.
    DELEGATE 9: We're 53 percent of the population, you're never going to get everybody to agree to everything. What you have before you now is a distillation of all of these state and territorial meetings. And there can always be improvement, there will be the day after you dot anything. And that some of that is going to come in, and in fact much of it can come in new business.
    The purpose of the Pro-Plan Caucus is to facilitate passage of the 26 planks that have been put forward. We are concerned that there'd be full debate, full discussion, disagreement in fact, but that the 26 items be considered and be passed.
    There has been a motion. Is there a second? By a hand vote, all those in favor of the motion that's before us, may I see your hands? Those in favor, please raise your hands. Okay, I may have to do a count. Put your hands down. Those opposed? Those in favor is carried by those in favor. I must say again that the Pro-Plan Caucus has been here to facilitate moving the agenda along in any case so that's basically what what we were here to do. That doesn't preclude us from continuing discussion now, because we are here to provide a forum for that kind of discussion. 
    SUSAN CAUDILL: After the caucuses—hard enough work for the delegates—the real test came whether the coalitions could hang together in the General Assembly.
    AUBREY COLOM: I move the adoption of the following recommendation: The federal government should assume a major role in directing and providing comprehensive, voluntary, flexible-hour, bias-free, non-sexist, quality childcare and developmental programs, including childcare facilities for federal employees, and should request and support adequate legislation and funding of these programs.
    RUTH CLUSEN: Is the motion seconded? We will be having pro and con debate.
    DELEGATE 10: The issue of child care is no longer one of choice for wealthy women. It's a matter of necessity for all women.
    DELEGATE 11: I'm one of the few low income delegates here. I would like to speak in favor of the childcare plank. As a single parent with four children, childcare—quality childcare—has meant that I can attend school, helping me to become self-employed.
    DELEGATE 12: I move to substitute the following resolution for the IWY resolution, whereas child rearing is the God-given responsibility and privilege of parents, not the government. And whereas, federally controlled early child development programs empower the government to choose the ideology by which young lives are molded
    DELEGATE 13: And I have a point of order. I wonder if the chair with all of this amendment is in order, since it changes the intent of the entire motion.
    DELEGATE 14: It is my understanding that we have just taken a vote to close debate, therefore it is my understanding that we should now move immediately to consideration of the substitute amendment on the floor without further debate.
    RUTH CLUSEN: Those in favor of the substitute motion, please rise. You may be seated. Those opposed to the substitute, please rise. The substitution is lost. We are now going to vote on the main motion on child care. All those in favor of the resolution as it appears before you, please rise. You may be seated. Sit down. Fast. All those opposed to the resolution, please rise. The motion is clearly carried.
    CLAIRE RANDALL: Madam Chairperson, I move the adoption of the following resolution: the Equal Rights Amendment should be ratified.
    ANN RICHARDS: I'm one of the privilege few women in this country that are elected to public office. And I rise to address this body in favor of the Equal Rights Amendment. I rise on behalf of those few of us who are fortunate enough to be in the positions that we are in. But I rise on behalf of those who are speechless and voiceless. I also rise on behalf of the men, the contemporary men of America in 35 states who had the guts to stand up and ratify the Equal Rights Amendment.
    DELEGATE 15: I wish to offer the following amendment. I want to amend the Equal Rights Amendment provision by adding at the end the words: "Only if done within the original seven-year period."
    MARY ANNE KRUPSAK: All those in favor of the amendment, please rise. All those opposed to the amendment, please rise.
    DELEGATE 16: I wish to make a substitute amendment. Whereas existing federal laws guarantee equality of opportunity in all areas, such as employment, education, and credit, and whereas a strict constitutional amendment requiring equality between the sexes at all times does not respect the differences between male and female, whereas the proposed Equal Rights Amendment will transfer enormous new powers from the states to the federal government, therefore be it resolved that we oppose the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution.
    MARY ANNE KRUPSAK. The chair cannot accept your substitute amendment. It has not been received at the microphone.
    BETTY FRIEDAN: I would like to ask this body to give the most resounding and urgent vote demanding the ratification of Equal Rights Amendment within the coming year, because otherwise your enormous expenditure of energy and money and effort that has brought us to this point will be in vain, and these 10 years of movement will be in vain.
    MARY ANNE KRUPSAK: The question arises on the adoption of resolution. All those in favor, will you please rise?
    GERRIDEE WHEELER: We support the US Supreme Court decisions, which guarantee reproductive freedom to women.
    SARAH WEDDINGTON: Certainly we would all agree that the best way is to prevent the problem of unwanted pregnancy. And so in this resolution we do stress in a positive way that we are for sex education, we are for the availability of family planning information and services, and we want those services expanded.
    DELEGATE 17: It is the antithesis of the feminist women's movement to oppress the less powerful. It therefore has to be absolutely ridiculous for people who call themselves feminists to suggest that they kill their unborn children to solve their social problems.
    DELEGATE 18: All women, but especially young women, and for that matter young men too, must have education about health and sexuality and voluntary medical services for those who are sexually active and in need of those services.
    DELEGATE 19: The reproductive freedom resolution as stated in the plan book asks for a continuance of this policy. Abortion on demand is an abuse of another minority in this country, the unborn children.
    ANNE SAUNIER: The resolution on reproductive freedom is adopted.
    CECILIA BURCIAGA: State legislators and state insurance commissioners should adopt the model regulation to eliminate unfair sex discrimination of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
    DELEGATE 20: I'm Betty, Wilson, delegate from New Jersey, the Garden State. New Jersey women support resolution on insurance. The current system of insurance throughout this country and the territory is one where women pay more and get less. We urge support on behalf of all the entire delegation here at the conference.
    DELEGATE 21: And now is this what we want? Do we want our congressmen to take over again these powers, and by so doing we give up our freedoms? And the next point of interest would be, what is the best for the man, or the woman, or for the individual? The standard I would think would be if a principle, a resolution, if it promotes well being and initiative and strengthens the moral character of a person, it is good for that individual. If it—
    ANNE SAUNIER: Your time has expired. Thank you. We will now proceed to a vote on the insurance resolution, which appears on page 20 of your Plan of Action. All those in favor of the resolution on insurance, rise. Thank you. All of those opposed, rise. Thank you. The resolution on insurance has been adopted.
    GLORIA STEINEM: Federal legislation should establish a national health security program. Present federal employees' health insurance policies and any future national health security program should cover women as individuals.
    ANNE SAUNIER: We will now proceed with mic one. Blue card on mic one, you are recognized.
    DELEGATE 21: Michelle Pelper, Washington State. I move the previous question.
    ANNE SAUNIER: Now we must vote on the resolution. The resolution is on health, which appears on page 16 and 17. All those in favor of the resolution, please rise. All those opposed to that resolution, please rise. The motion has carried. Thank you.
    LENORE HERSHEY: The President and Congress should support a practical plan for covering homemakers in their own right under Social Security, and should facilitate its enactment.
    ANNE SAUNIER: The previous question has been moved. Therefore we will proceed to a vote on the resolution. All those in favor of the homemaker's resolution as it appears on page 18, please rise. Be seated. All those opposed to this resolution, please rise. The resolution has carried.
    JEAN O'LEARY: Madam Chair, I move the following resolution on sexual preference. Congress, state, and local legislatures should enact legislation to eliminate discrimination on the basis of sexual and affectional preference in areas, including, but not limited to, employment, housing, public accommodations, credit, public facilities, government funding, and the military.
    DELEGATE 22: This is a feminist issue because discrimination against women begins at the at the basis of sexuality. There are double standards, one standard for males, another for females. One standard for heterosexuals, another for homosexuals. And all these double standards in the issue of sexuality work to keep women in their place. Human rights are indivisible. And all women, when we march together in equality, we will march as heterosexuals and homosexuals, minority woman and majority woman, rich and poor. We will all go together as human beings.
    DELEGATE 23: This issue is a very human issue, and compels the sympathy of all concerned people, but it has always been an albatross on the neck of the feminist movement.
    ANNE SAUNIER: Stay in order!
    DELEGATE 23: Does that count for my two minutes.
    ANNE SAUNIER: Please go.
    DELEGATE 23: It is not a uniquely woman problem. It is a human one. The political reality is that passage of this resolution is an extra burden we do not need. I urge you to defeat this resolution.
    ANNE SAUNIER: Would all those in favor of the sexual preference resolution, please rise. Be seated. Please stay in order! Please stay in order! Be seated. Be seated. All those opposed to this resolution, please rise. Thank you. The resolution has clearly carried. It is adopted.
    SUSAN CAUDILL: Minority delegates crossed their own racial and ethnic barriers to write a new substitute motion in a unique and passionate display of unity.
    ANNE SAUNIER: Microphone four, you are recognized.
    MAXINE WATERS: Madam Chairperson, I am Assemblywoman Maxine Waters, delegate from the state of California. The united Minority Caucus of International Women's Year Conference 1977 move to substitute the resolution on minority women as it is presented in the proposed Plan of Action. And we would like to substitute that as follows, Madam Chairperson. 
    BILLIE MASTERS: Billie Masters, delegate-at-large from the state of California, chair of the first National Indian women's and Alaskan Natives Caucus forum here at the IWY. American Indian and Alaskan Native women have a relationship to Earth Mother and the great spirit, as well as a heritage based on the sovereignty of Indian peoples. The federal government should guarantee tribal rights, tribal sovereignty, honor existing treaties...
    MARIKO TSE: My name is Mariko Tse. I am a delegate from the state of California, and I am a spokesperson for the Asian/Pacific American Women's Caucus. Asian/Pacific American women are wrongly thought to be part of a model minority with few problems. This obscures our vulnerability due to language and cultural barriers, sweatshop work conditions with high health hazards, the particular problems of wives of US servicemen, lack of access to accreditation and licensing because of immigrant status and to many federally funded services.
    SANDY SERRANO SEWELL: I am Sandra Serrano Sewell, president of Comisión Femenil Mexicana Nacional. Deportation of mothers of American-born children must be stopped, and legislation enacted for parents to remain with their children. Citizenship provisions should be facilitated. Legislation under the National Labor Relations Act should be enacted to provide migrant farm-working women the federal minimum-wage rate, collective bargaining rights, adequate housing, and bilingual, bicultural social service delivery.
    ANNE SAUNIER: Miss King, you are recognized.
    CORETTA SCOTT KING: Thank you Madam Chairman. On behalf of the black women of America, I would like to read the following statement as a part of this resolution for minority women. The President and Congress should provide for full, quality education, including the special admission programs and for the full implementation and enforcement of all affirmative action programs at all levels of education. The President and the Congress should immediately address the crises of unemployment, which impacts the black community and results in black teenage women having the highest rate of unemployment.
    IWY COMMISSIONER 1: The President, Congress, and all federal agencies should utilize fully in all deliberations and planning processes the black women's plan of action, which clearly reflects and delineates other major concerns of black women. Would all of those in favor of this resolution stand?
    SUSAN CAUDILL: Meanwhile, seven miles south at the Astrodome complex, about 15,000 women and men gathered from all over the country to protest the conference. They passed resolutions to send to Washington, arguing that they—not the official conference—represent women. The organizers described their assembly as a pro-God, pro-life, pro-family rally.
    LOTTIE BETH HOBBS: What we are witnessing in Houston today is not the battle of the sexes. It is not even the battle between women, though we have women divided into two different camps in Texas, in America today. What we're witnessing is the battle of philosophies.
    NELLIE GRAY: You know we have this beautiful symbol of the rose, a symbol of life. Also, a symbol of martyrdom. A martyrdom that is happening in America, where blood is actually flowing as babies are being killed in our hospitals and clinics. And that is the reason that we speak. You know what they do in abortion is they simply take the lovely baby from its natural habitat, and they rip it out. And they throw it away. And that is what is happening in America,
    MILDRED JEFFERSON: The mighty army of the people is on the move. And we will not retreat until we have pushed back every threat to the family that is the heart of our country.
    PHYLLIS SCHLAFLY: There are many differences between this meeting, and the one in that other hall today. We started out by offering a prayer, and I think you should know that at that other meeting they didn't have a prayer, they just started out with a moment of silence for fear they would offend many of their members who were present. I'm very proud that they excluded me from that convention, and I'm here where we're not ashamed and not afraid to ask God's blessing on this crowd assembled here today. The Commission on International Women's Year is a costly mistake at the taxpayers expense. The whole thing was designed as a media event, a charade to go through the motions of these phony state conferences and national conferences, in order to pass resolutions that were pre-written and pre-packaged, a year and a half ago, and published in June of 1976. And then after it was all over, to tell the Congress and the state legislatures that this is what American women want. By coming here today, you have shown that that is not what American women want. The Equal Rights Amendment says you cannot discriminate on account of sex, and if you want to deny a marriage license to a man and a man or deny a homosexual the right to teach in the schools or to adopt children, it is on account of sex that you would deny it, and that would be unconstitutional under ERA.
    R.K. DORNAN: From the United States to the President and to the Congress that I am the only congressman here. When I went over to that Albert Thomas Hall this morning as an official observer from the United States Congress to find out how our $5 million was being spent, and I watched this morning the corruption of young people in Albert Thomas Hall. And the greatest tragedy of all was to see three former First Ladies of this nation—excuse me, two former First Ladies and the current wife of the President of the United States—all sitting properly with their hands in their lap, dressed according to White House protocol, and standing by their very presence aloneside of Abzug, approving with their very presence of sexual perversion and the murder of young people in their mothers wombs. What a disgrace!
    LOTTIE BETH HOBBS: Mr lawmakers, these are the things that we believe. Therefore be it resolved that the Congress enact and the states ratify a mandatory human life amendment to the Constitution to protect all persons born and unborn. All in favor, say aye. [Aye.] The next one. Therefore be it resolved that preschool child development programs shall be controlled by the private sector, giving parents freedom of choice over the physical and philosophical environment of their children. All in favor say, say aye. [Aye.] Be it resolved that we oppose the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution. All in favor say aye. [Aye.] Therefore be it resolved that homosexuality, lesbianism, or prostitution shall not be taught, glorified or otherwise promoted as acceptable through the laws of society through the adoption of children or within the institutions, such as our schools. All in favor say aye. [Aye.]
    SUSAN CAUDILL: This morning's General Assembly—the last plenary—was supposed to be about implementing the National Plan of Action. It was until the close. One of the most complex, disorganized, frustrating, even unhappy sessions of the conference. Some resolutions, which were defeated, proposed establishing something like a shadow government of women to watch over implementation of the plan. Another one would have proposed a cabinet level position for women.
    RUTH CLUSEN: I move the adoption of the following resolution. It is hereby resolved that, one, a committee of the conference be established.
    DELEGATE 24: What is proper to be taken up as the first resolution this morning is in fact that Women's Department. The resolution that has just been introduced is out of order, and I call for the orders of the day.
    BELLA ABZUG: I think it's important for the body to hear me because I think that they were not listening, since they're seems unfortunately to have been some confusion by having put this before the Women's Department. And I want to respond as the Presiding Officer, speaking for the Commission to what appears to be the will of the body, and restore— And I'm going to recommend that we take up the 26th item.
    IWY COMMISSIONER 2: As part of the President's proposed government reorganization plan, Congress and the President should establish a cabinet level Women's department at the executive branch to the federal government.
    ADDIE WYATT: What is the resolution?
    DELEGATE 25: And I wish to offer a substitute motion. There should be a women's Congress, composed of two representatives from each state, District of Columbia, and the territories.
    ADDIE WYATT: All in favor of the substitute motion which the chair has reread, will you stand? Indicate by standing. We indicate by standing. Will you be seated? All of those who oppose, will you rise? The substitute motion fails.
    BELLA ABZUG: The Commission has extended the time, this closing closing plenary session 'til three o'clock.
    DELEGATE 26: We started this started an hour and a half late. And this was deliberately designed so that we would, this exception would be made and so that we would not be able to be present.
    DELEGATE 27: I move to amend the resolution as follows. I believe that we should not consolidate these departments because we need a broad-based group of women's organizations working for us.
    GLORIA STEINEM: I believe that that amendment brings this resolution into the spirit which is reflected on pages 130 and 131 in To Form a More Perfect Union.
    DELEGATE 28: This chair and this Commission is railroading through, or trying to railroad through, a department which this Congress does not want—
    ADDIE WYATT: All those in favor of the original motion as amended, will you rise? All those who oppose, will you rise? The motion is defeated. Whereas Public Law 94 167 requires the establishment of a committee of the conference which will take steps to provide for the convening of a second National Women's Conference. Now all of those in favor of the motion to adopt the committee of the conference resolution, will you rise? Will you be seated? All those opposed, will you rise? The motion is carried.
    DELEGATE 29: I move that we adjourn.
    ADDIE WYATT: It has been motioned that we adjourn. All those in favor of adjourning, will you please rise? Be seated. All of those who oppose, will you rise? The motion is carried.
    BELLA ABZUG: We accomplished a great deal. I think we accomplished more at a meeting like this than anyone could possibly hoped for. You want to be congratulated. You have really set a new course for America's hopes for women and for men all over this country. And I believe that you have done a magnificent job. Thank you very much. You've been great.
    SUSAN CAUDILL: The National Women's Conference is an unprecedented occasion, although it sometimes look like a national party convention. If there is an analogy, some historians say it's a constitutional convention for women. The conference marks the first time our elected government has given a formal vow to women as full citizens. Before the meeting, many participants fan mass disruption, even sabotage. Others predicted rancor, massive infighting, woman against woman, the death of the women's movement. There was dissension, but what happened is overall cooperation, the creation of a large working majority among the delegates, despite some sour notes at the end. Ironically, the short-run effectiveness of the conference depends on the men who control Congress, the presidency, and the state legislatures. In the long run, the women of America will determine the significance of the National Women's Conference.
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