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End of An Era

The evolution of the Republican party platform’s “historic commitment” to women.

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Illustration by Tony Millionaire  

1972: The Republican party recognizes the great contributions women have made to our society as homemakers and mothers, as contributors to the community through volunteer work, and as members of the labor force in careers outside the home. We fully endorse the principle of equal rights, equal opportunities, and equal responsibilities for women, and believe that progress in these areas is needed to achieve the full realization of the potentials of American women both in the home and outside the home.

This administration has … :

• Significantly increased resources devoted to enforcement of the Fair Labor Standards Act, providing equal pay for equal work;
• Required all firms doing business with the government to have affirmative-action plans for the hiring and promotion of women;
• Requested Congress to expand the jurisdiction of the Commission on Civil Rights to cover sex discrimination;
• Recommended and supported passage of Title IX of the Higher Education Act opposing discrimination against women in educational institutions;
• Supported the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972 giving the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission enforcement power in sex-discrimination cases;
• Continued our support of the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution, our party being the first national party to back this amendment.

1976: The Republican Party reaffirms its support for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. Our party was the first national party to endorse the E.R.A. in 1940. We continue to believe its ratification is essential to insure equal rights for all Americans.

1980: We acknowledge the legitimate efforts of those who support or oppose ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.

… Ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment is now in the hands of state legislatures, and the issues of the time extension and rescission are in the courts. The states have a constitutional right to accept or reject a constitutional amendment without federal interference or pressure. At the direction of the White House, federal departments launched pressure against states which refused to ratify ERA. Regardless of one’s position on ERA, we demand that this practice cease.

1984: The Republican Party has an historic commitment to equal rights for women. Republicans pioneered the right of women to vote, and our party was the first major party to advocate equal pay for equal work, regardless of sex.

President Reagan believes, as do we, that all members of our party are free to work individually for women’s progress.

1988: We must remove remaining obstacles to women’s achieving their full potential and full reward. That does not include the notion of federally mandated comparable worth, which would substitute the decisions of bureaucrats for the judgment of individuals.

1992: We renew the historic Republican commitment to the rights of women, from the early days of the suffragist movement to the present. Because legal rights mean little without opportunity, we assert economic growth as the key to the continued progress of women in all fields of American life.


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