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Date: August 17, 1998 11:53 am
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Statement Of NOW President Patricia Ireland In Response To Reports Of Clinton Testimony
WASHINGTON - August 17 -

"We have said from the beginning that no CEO and no elected official, including the president, should take advantage of the aphrodisiac of power to have sex with interns or staff.

Consensual sex with a White House intern is a abuse of power by the president; but consensual sex is not illegal harassment and it is not an impeachable offense.  Nor is it in the best interest of our country for the president to resign.

Whatever Congress decides to do, in all fairness the only ones who should vote on this issue are members who themselves have never had sex outside of marriage and never lied about their sex lives -- either denying or exaggerating!

After all this time and money, it appears Ken Starr has found nothing to pin on the Clintons  - nothing on Whitewater, nothing on Filegate, nothing on Travelgate - nothing more than some sort of consensual relationship between Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky.

The investigation - and the attempts to legitimize the wildest of allegations - began with the appointment of the special prosecutor in August 1994, right before the elections that turned over the Congress to Newt Gingrich and Trent Lott.  Now Ken Starr is going to send his report to Congress right before the 1998 elections.  This may or may not be a right-wing "conspiracy," but it certainly makes NOW's political action committees' electoral project, Victory 2000, even more important.  We are determined to elect 2000 new feminists to office by the turn of the century as part of our strategy to end the disrespect of women in the workplace and
in politics.

NOW never thought Bill Clinton was the answer to our dreams of equality for women.   Clinton was, for many of us, the option in 1996.  Women voters elected Clinton, and the majority of women still approve of his performance in office, apparently judging him as a president whose strengths outweigh his flaws.

Clinton's administration worked hard and successfully on the Violence Against Women Act, the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, the earned income tax credit, women's health and other issues that affect us and our families; he has appointed more women and women's rights supporters to positions of power than ever before.
Still, he seems to be a man who divides women into two unfortunate traditional categories: women he must treat with respect like Hillary Clinton, Madeline Albright and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and those he can use and toss aside like tissue paper.

We would like better options for president in the future.  That's why we're working to re-elect Senators like Barbara Boxer, Patty Murray and Carol Moseley-Braun, to send Geraldine Ferraro to join them and to elect more feminist women like New York's Betsy McCaughey Ross to governors' mansions, which have been the springboard to the White House in recent years.

We reiterate our demand for immediate action by the president, the Congress and employers across the country to stop sexual harassment in the workplace.  We call upon right-wing women's groups, conservative commentators and the leadership of Congress - given their new-found interest in sexual harassment and workplace abuses - to work to strengthen anti-discrimination laws by: removing the cap on damages and extending the deadline for filing charges under Title VII; authorizing and appropriating sufficient funding for the EEOC to clear up the massive backlog of discrimination complaints; and filling the many vacancies on the federal
courts that hear such complaints."


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