The President has long been a strong supporter of greater opportunity for American women.
In 1970, when he was serving as House Minority Leader, Mr. Ford was instrumental in lining up some of the last signatures to obtain a "discharge petition" to free the Equal Rights Amendment from committee, where it had languished for 47 years, and bring it to the floor of the House of Representatives.
In his 1976 Women's Equality Day Proclamation, President Ford said,
"It would be most fitting for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment to be accomplished as we begin our third century."
On July 1, 1976, the President directed the Attorney General to review the entire United States Code to determine the need for revising sex-based provisions that are not justified in law nor supported by wise policy. The President made it clear on that occasion that he was determined to eliminate all vestiges of discrimination within the Federal government.
In March of this year, the Secretary of the Treasury presented the Administration's tax proposals. The President recommended the elimination of the estate and gift tax on all transfers between spouses. This proposal is now under consideration by the Congress.
The President has also supposted [supported] the establishment and appointment of the National Commission on the Observance of International Women's Year and he signed the legislation which directs the National Commission to plan and convene a National Women's Conference to be preceded by 56 state and territorial conferences. On July lst of this year, the President accepted the report of the National Commission in a ceremony at the White House.
In March of 1975 the President directed the heads of Federal Departments and agencies to guarantee that all persons have an opportunity to compete on a fair and equal basis for employment and advancement in the federal government. The Chairman of the Civil Service Commission was directed to evaluate this program and report back to the President on an annual basis.
President Ford has also supported and signed the following legislation:
President Ford has also directed his Special Assistant for Women to maintain open liaison with over 300 national women's organizations with a combined membership of over 100 million.
Since taking office, the President has emphasized the need to increase the number of women in high-level positions in the federal government. As a result, 14 percent of all new appointments have been women. This is higher than all previous administration.
Among the President's appointments are: Carla Hills, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development; Marjorie Lynch, Under Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare; Juanita Ashcraft, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force; Judith Connor, Assistant Secretary of Transportation; Constance Newman, Assistant Secretary of Housing and Urban Development; Anne Armstrong, Ambassador to the Court of St. James; Shirley Temple Black, Chief of Protocol; Rosemary Ginn, Ambassador to Luxembourg; Marquita Maytag, Ambassador to Nepal; Mary Olmsted, Ambassador to Papua New Guinea; Betty Southard Murphy, Chairman, National Labor Relations Board; Katherine Bailey, Member, National Transportation Safety Board; Betty Jo Christian, Commissioner, Interstate Commerce Commission; Barbara Anne Simpson, Commissioner, Federal Power Commission; Georgiana Sheldon, Commissioner, Civil Service Commission; Ethel Bent Walsh, reappointed as Vice Chairman, EEOC; Margita White (nomination pending) Commissioner, Federal Communications Commission; Eloise Clark, Assistant Director, National Science Foundation; Mary Richey, U.S. District Judge, Arizona; Elizabeth Kovacavich, U.S. District Judge, Middle District of Florida; Susan Gordon, Assistant Secretary, Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.
On his own staff, in the White House, he has appointed Gwen Anderson, Deputy Assistant to the Counselor to the President; Jeanne M. Holm, Special Assistant to the President; Judith Hope, Associate Director of the Domestic Council; Barbara Greene Kilberg, Associate Counsel; and Virginia Knauer, Special Assistant to the President for Consumer Affairs.
President Ford has stated that he is personally opposed to abortion on demand -- and believes that the 1973 Supreme Court decision went too far in that direction.
The President is also opposed to a constitutional amendment which would totally prohibit abortion -- there are very limited circumstances -- "the illness of a mother, or rape or any of the other unfortunate things that might happen" -- which might make an abortion necessary.
The only Federal action which President Ford would support would be a constitutional amendment giving to the states the authority to make regulations for abortion within that state.
His position is one which he has held consistently over the years. It is based on President Ford's strong belief in the Federal system, which holds that such moral and deeply personal issues should not be settled as a matter of national policy, but rather should be decided by the people closer to home, in their own states.
EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT
President Ford is a long-time supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment and has urged its ratification by the states in numerous speeches and interviews.
In 1970, when ERA first reached the House of Representatives floor, the then House Minority Leader Ford was instrumental in obtaining enough votes to get a discharge petition to free the measure from Committee where it had been for 47 years. A Congresswoman who led the ERA fight said:
"Congressman Ford supplied some real moxie too; he lined up 15 to 16 names right at the end."
On February 4, 1976, during an interview, President Ford told the New Hampshire Times:
"I support ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment and I have urged the adoption of it by the states. The Nation cannot afford discrimination against any individual based solely upon race, creed, sex, or national origin. As we enter our third century as a Nation, it is particularly important that we reaffirm our commitment to equal opportunities for all our citizens."
On July 1, 1976, he stated before a group of 1,000 leaders on the White House lawn:
"Because this Nation is founded on the principle that all citizens share the same rights, what affects the rights of one affects the freedoms of all. The job before us . . . is to bring our national life into harmony with our national philosophy. This is an awesome task. It is a difficult problem. But we faced such tasks before and I think we can win." . . .
"More than half a century after women's sufferage [suffrage] became law, much still remains to be done. . . . Not just compassion but justice and logic dictate that we remove the inequities that still exist."
"Since becoming President, I have supported and signed into law legislation prohibiting sex discrimination in housing, credit, and education. Some of the laws discriminating against women appear petty and even ridiculous. But the fact is, they are all equally inconsistent with the American philosophy of equality."
In his 1976 Women's Equality Day Proclamation, President Ford said:
"To remind all Americans that it is fitting and just to secure legal equality for all women and men, (I) do hereby designate and proclaim August 26, 1976, as Women's Equality Day.
I call upon all the citizens of the United States to mark this day with appropriate activities, and I call upon those States who have not ratified the Equal Rights Amendment to give serious consideration to its ratification and the upholding of our Nation's heritage."
Return to President Ford '76 Fact Book
Send e-mail to the Gerald R. Ford Library