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1/24/1997 - Hawaii House Bans Same-Sex Marriages

On January 23rd, the Hawaii House of Representatives voted 44 - 7 to approve an amendment to the state constitution which would outlaw same-sex marriages. Lawmakers, in an effort to undo recent court rulings, are now sending the expedited measure to the Senate, where it is expected to pass easily. If approved by the Senate, the amendment would go before voters in November of 1998. In 1993 the state's high court ruled that a measure banning same-sex marriages violated the state Constitution's equal protection clause


1/24/1997 - Air Force Colonel Faces Court-Martial for Sexual Harassment

Col. David C. Raunhecker, one of the highest ranking officials at a Florida Air Force base, faces a court-martial on January 24th for allegedly fondling and kissing a female captain against her will. Raunhecker was removed from command last year after Lisa Saturno, one of his top aides, accused him of the harassment. Saturno resigned last year. Raunhecker is officially charged with having an unprofessional relationship with his secretary, maltreatment of a subordinate, indecent assault and conduct unbecoming an officer.


1/24/1997 - Vatican Presents Its Case Against Female Priests

Though the Vatican has tried for years to make the issue of ordaining women go away, the issue won't die. On January 24th, the Vatican presented its case and announced the release of a book which gathers together church documents on the subject and "scholarly" essays on why women will not be ordained as priests. Bishop Angelo Scola commented at a news conference, "The church does not have the power to modify the practice, uninterrupted for 2000 years, of calling only men to the ministering priesthood, in that this was wanted directly by Jesus." He cites that Jesus chose only men for the 12 apostles and that priesthood is "objectively linked to the male sex of Jesus."


1/23/1997 - Dynamite Found in Atlanta Clinic Bombs

CBS News, citing unidentified sources, reports that dynamite was used in both bombs which exploded at an Atlanta abortion clinic. The New York Times also reported that the bombers used ten to twenty sticks of dynamite in each attack. The dynamite used is rarely used by amateurs and requires a federal permit to carry across state lines. Investigators are currently trying to ascertain how the explosives were obtained.

The Atlanta Northside Family Planning Services clinic experienced severe damage after it was bombed on January 16, 1997. A second bomb exploded approximately an hour later in a nearby dumpster. There is some speculation that the first bomb was intended to level the building and the second one was intended to kill people who arrived on the scene after the first bombing.

First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, Vice President Al Gore, and Tipper Gore condemned recent acts of violence against abortion clinics at NARAL's celebration of the January 22nd twenty-fourth anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Speaking just hours after an explosion near a Washington, DC Planned Parenthood clinic, Vice President Al Gore, Tipper Gore, and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton expressed outrage at recent acts of domestic terrorism involving bombs at abortion clinics in Atlanta, Georgia; Tulsa, Oklahoma; and Washington, D.C. The Gores and Rodham Clinton stood up for a woman's right to choose and condemned violent acts performed to prevent threaten and intimidate women, preventing them from exercising their constitutional right to abortion.


1/23/1997 - Albright Unanimously Confirmed by Senate

Madeleine Albright became the first female Secretary of State on January 22 after the Senate voted 99 to 0 to confirm her to the cabinet. She immediately choose two highly experienced officials for the top jobs at the State Department. Thomas Pickering, a senior professional diplomat in the Foreign Service will serve as the secretary for political affairs, the third-ranking job in the State Department. Stuart Eizenstat, who has recently served as the under secretary of commerce for international affairs, will become under secretary for economic affairs in the State Department. Albright has also chosen her former chief of staff Elaine Shocas to serve her as chief of staff at the State Department.


1/23/1997 - Albright Unanimously Confirmed by Senate

Madeleine Albright became the first female Secretary of State on January 22 after the Senate voted 99 to 0 to confirm her to the cabinet. She immediately choose two highly experienced officials for the top jobs at the State Department. Thomas Pickering, a senior professional diplomat in the Foreign Service will serve as the secretary for political affairs, the third-ranking job in the State Department. Stuart Eizenstat, who has recently served as the under secretary of commerce for international affairs, will become under secretary for economic affairs in the State Department. Albright has also chosen her former chief of staff Elaine Shocas to serve her as chief of staff at the State Department.


1/23/1997 - West Point Cadet on Trial for Raping Female Cadet

On January 22, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point begun a court martial against a male cadet accused of raping a female cadet during a party. The female cadet alleges that James P. Engelbrecht forced himself on her even though she told him repeatedly to stop and to get off of her. This is the first rape trial at the academy in which a cadet is accusing another cadet since the academy has admitted women in 1976. The panel of seven Army officers, all male, will decide the case; five of them must find the defendant guilty for there to be a conviction.


1/23/1997 - Supreme Court Puts Off Deciding Whether or Not to Hear Affirmative Action Case

This week, the Supreme Court was expected to announce whether or not it would hear Board of Education of Piscatony v. Taxman, a case which could sharply restrict affirmative action programs. Instead, the Court asked the Justice Department whether it believes federal law allows an employer to prefer an African American worker over a white one, if the workplace is already racially balanced. It could take months for the Justice Department's response.


1/23/1997 - Italian Cabinet Votes to Allow Women in Military

On January 22, the Italian cabinet voted to allow women to serve as soldiers in the country's armed forces. It also voted to allow men drafted for military service to perform community service instead. The draft law now goes to parliament for passage.


1/22/1997 - Device Explodes Near Planned Parenthood Clinic in D.C.

At 7:45 a.m. on January 22, the twenty-fourth anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion, a device exploded one block from a Planned Parenthood clinic in Washington, D.C., one mile from the White House. Just days after two bombs exploded near a clinic in Atlanta, Georgia and another bomb exploded in a Tulsa, Oklahoma clinic, police say a man carrying the device was walking toward the clinic and fled in the direction of the Mayflower Hotel after the device exploded. The man has said he found the device in a lamp post. The National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL) planned to hold a luncheon in honor of the anniversary with Vice President Al Gore, Tipper Gore and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton in attendance later that afternoon in the Mayflower Hotel.

Abortion rights activists have been on alert and defending clinics all weekend in anticipation of increased abortion clinic violence surrounding the Roe v. Wade anniversary. Anti-abortion activists planned to march down Constitution Avenue in the afternoon of the 22nd in conjunction with the “March for Life.”


1/22/1997 - Military Sex Scandal Widens

The Army announced January 21 that it has charged a fourth instructor at Maryland’s Aberdeen Proving Ground with sexual misconduct. Maintenance Instructor U.S. Army Sgt. First Class Theron Brown has been charged with adultery and sodomy involving two female trainees and a female civilian and with violating rules against socializing with students. Brown will face a court-martial and up to six months in prison.

In Charleston, South Carolina, federal court records show that officials at the Citadel military college knew about allegations of sexual harassment made by Jeanie Mentavlos months before she withdrew from the college in January. Mentavlos and Kim Messer, the other female cadet who left the school this month because of sexual harassment, have stated that the Citadel knew about the harassing behavior and failed to put a stop to it. The Citadel has asserted that it responded to the complaints promptly, yet at a January 8 Justice Department oversight hearing on the integration of women at the Citadel, Col. Joseph Trez admitted under cross-examination that he met with Mentavlos’ father in October to hear complaints that Jeanie was experiencing sexual harassment.

Mr. Mentavlos agreed to lessen the charge against a cadet to shoved a piece of cardboard in his daughter’s face because he was told the cadet had a record of “outstanding performance.” Yet in the 13 months previous to the offense, the cadet had been punished for both major and minor violations which Trez dismissed at the hearing as happening “a long time ago.” After the charges against the cadet were downgraded from major to minor violation, the cadet retaliated against Mentavlos by shoving a rifle against her face, causing her to hit her head against a wall, and forced her to hold the rifle in front of her while in tears.

Valorie K. Vojdik, lawyer for the women who sued to gain admittance to the Citadel, and lawyers for Mentavlos and Messer say the Citadel’s failure to stop the harassment is indicative of a larger pattern of negligence on the part of the school toward protecting the women cadets. The lawyers maintain the state has appropriated no extra money to aid in the process of assimilating the women into the formerly all-male college. The state supported the Citadel’s fight against coeducation.


1/22/1997 - Former Hooters Waitress Sues for Sexual Harassment

Phillips quit after the slapping incident at the bar, and her lawyers are seeking class-action status on behalf of some 1,000 “Hooters Girls.” The lawsuit states, “Hooters put its female employees at risk of sexual harassment through its uniforms it required them to wear and the marketing of its restaurants.” Phillips said she was aware that her job required her to wear shorts and a t-shirt, “but in return,” Phillips stated, “Hooters agreed to protect me from sexual harassment. I was not protected, and when I tried to complain, I was told I had no federal rights.” The restaurant claims that the signing of the Hooters policy means employees give up their right to pursue sexual harassment claims. Phillips was sued by Hooters because Phillips did not agree to arbitrate under the company’s policy. Lawyers want to prohibit the company from using its arbitration policy.

Phillips is seeking back pay and benefits, reinstatement and compensatory and punitive damages. Another former Hooters waitress in Madison, WI filed a federal lawsuit on the same day, alleging that she was fired for complaining about sexual harassment from male employees.

The phone number for Hooters employees to call for more information about joining Phillips’ suit is 1-800-749-3141.


1/22/1997 - Woman Nominated to Head National Park Service

Yosemite Superintendent B.J. Griffin has been nominated to head the National Park Service by Congressman George Radanovich (R-CA) whose district includes Yosemite. Griffin is the first woman superintendent of the 104-year-old national park and has been described by Radanovich as “one of the most effective people ever to serve the public interest at Yosemite.” Radanovich wrote to Deputy Secretary of the Interior John Garamendi to recommend Griffin after Roger Kennedy resigned as National Park Service director last week. New legislation requires that the director be confirmed by the Senate


1/22/1997 - Judge Rejects Doubled Bail for Alleged Rapist

Alex Kelly, the alleged rapist of two high school girls in the late 80s, will face a $1 million bond instead of the $2 million sought by the prosecution. In 1987, Kelly fled to Switzerland just before going on trial for the rapes and remained a fugitive in Europe for eight years. Kelly is scheduled to be retried in April after his first trial for one of the rapes ended in a hung jury in November.


1/21/1997 - Albright Unanimously Confirmed by Senate Foreign Relations Committee

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee unanimously voted to confirm Madeleine Albright as the first female Secretary of State of the United States on January 20th. The full Senate should vote on her confirmation by January 22nd. The committee's ranking Democrat, Senator Joseph Biden (D-Del) said that he expected her confirmation to "sail through the senate."


1/21/1997 - Martin Luther King Jr. III Starts Pro-Affirmative Action Group

In response to Ward Connerly's founding of a national group to wipe out equal opportunity programs for women and people of color, Martin Luther King's eldest son has founded and will head Americans United for Affirmative Action. The new Atlanta-based group will work to preserve affirmative action. King commented on January 18th near the memorial of his father, "Our country is currently embroiled in a backlash against hard-won gains made during the civil rights movement - namely, affirmative action."


1/21/1997 - Woman Sues Estee Lauder Exec for Harassment

Estee Lauder employee Barbara Gretzen filed a $1 million sexual harassment against a top male executive of the company on January 14 in Manhattan Supreme Court. Gretzen’s suit alleges that she had to take a job in another division at a lower salary in order to avoid unwanted sexual advances by Aramis men’s division president Robert Nielsen. According to Gretzen’s suit, Nielsen allegedly told Gretzen that he had an erotic dream about her and had “sexual thoughts” about her constantly. Gretzen alleges that Nielsen cost her a promotion to executive assistant for Estee Lauder chairman Leonard Lauder and also relinquished the possibility of a promotion to marketing after Gretzen told her his unwanted advances made her uncomfortable.


1/21/1997 - Global Summit for Women Draws Hundreds to Miami

Hundreds of women from 44 nations around the world attended the Women’s Global Summit in Miami January 9-12. The conference, organized by Irene Natividad, focused on economic empowerment for women. The summit addressed the issue of how to define and market indigenous natural human resources and skills. Participants learned that women’s unpaid work is estimated at $11 trillion while the global informal economy itself is worth $17 trillion. Jobs, work, and family were cited as major concerns for women around the world. One of the successes mentioned was the fact that 400 women-owned businesses in the Philippines saw income increase of 78 percent. In Japan, president of General Engineering Company Mr. Mitsumasa Kawai opened a school for entrepreneurs after receiving 4,000 applicants for four grants to enable women to start their own businesses. Kawai noted at the conference that many Japanese women who study in the U.S. choose not to return to Japan because “Japan is very much behind the U.S.” in economic opportunities for women. Yet women comprise only 10 percent of almost 13,000 corporate officers in 500 of the largest companies in the U.S., according to the group Catalyst. The Global Summit offered women the opportunity to learn about economic opportunities for women around the world.


1/20/1997 - Oklahoma Abortion Clinic Bombed

The Reproductive Services Clinic was bombed on January 1, 1997 and again on January 19th. The abortion clinic, which offers a variety of family planning services, sustained minor damage and was closed for an afternoon after a bomb went off at the back of the clinic. No one was injured, and police do not yet have any suspects. A woman, identified only as Terry, who has worked at the clinic for fourteen years was outraged and commented, "Certain groups would consider this a victory, but what it is is an outright attack on women's rights."

This bombing came three days after an Atlanta abortion clinic was bombed twice and a month after an abortion doctor in New Orleans was stabbed fifteen times around the neck, chest and shoulders by an anti-abortion extremist.


1/20/1997 - Albright Unanimously Confirmed by Senate Foreign Relations Committee

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee unanimously voted to confirm Madeleine Albright as the first female Secretary of State of the United States on January 20th. The full Senate should vote on her confirmation by January 22nd. The committee's ranking Democrat, Senator Joseph Biden (D-Del) said that he expected her confirmation to "sail through the senate."


1/17/1997 - President Calls Abortion Clinic Bombing an Act of Terror

President Clinton, in a statement issued after an abortion clinic was bombed twice on January 16th, said, "The double bombing at a women's health clinic in Atlanta this morning was a vile and malevolent crime. Make no mistake: anyone who brings violence against a woman trying to exercise her constitutional rights is committing an act of terror. It is always wrong. And it should be punished severely." Demanding that abortion violence be categorized as "domestic terrorism," Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority, commented, "We were horrified and outraged by news of this tragedy, but hardly surprised, since our press conference was called to bring attention to the persistent violence being targeted at abortion clinics nationwide."

The abortion clinic in Atlanta was bombed twice on January 16th; one blast going off at 9:30 in the morning and the other less than an hour later. The first bomb did not injure anyone, but did destroy the abortion clinic, which was on the ground floor of a in a high rise office complex. The second bomb injured officials and people who had gathered to investigate the first bombing. Ironically, at the same time the bomb went off in Atlanta, women's rights and abortion rights activists were holding a press conference in Washington D.C. to warn Americans that clinic violence is not a thing of the past. Though clinic violence has been decreasing, a 1996 Clinic Violence Survey conducted by the Feminist Majority Foundation indicates that one-third of clinics still experience severe abortion-related violence


1/17/1997 - Afghan Woman Beaten for Having Bare Ankles

Taliban militants in Kabul, Afghanistan beat a woman with a belt on the street as a crowd watched, witnesses said on January 16. A fighter from the militia said the woman was being punished for violating a strict Islamic dress code by leaving her ankles uncovered. Other women have been beaten publicly since September 27 when the Taliban took over the Afghan capital and decreed that women must cover themselves from head to toe in an expensive, restrictive garment called a burqa. The Taliban has also forbid women and girls from attending school and working. During the Ramadan holiday, restrictions are tighter. Women are allowed to leave their homes to attend a funeral, visit patients in hospitals, or to buy food, but are not to “go out of their houses without a legal excuse,” according to a document prepared for the Department for Promoting Virtue and Suppressing Vice.


1/17/1997 - Simpson Prosecutors Present Nicole’s Letter About Beating

In the wrongful death trial against O.J. Simpson, prosecutors presented the defendant with a letter written by his slain ex-wife in which Nicole Brown Simpson said O.J. “beat the holy hell out of me” during a 1986 argument. Nicole’s letter also made reference to “the New Year’s Eve beat-up” which led to Simpson pleading no contest to spousal battery. The letter went on “I called the cops to save my life, whether you believe it or not. I’ve never loved you since or been the same.” In the early weeks of the current civil trial, Simpson said he had “never” beat Nicole.

On January 15, the defense lost its bid to an appeals court that 30 additional photos of O.J. Simpson wearing Bruno Magli shoes not be admitted into evidence. The defense had previously tried to argue that one such picture was a fake before the 30 additional photos taken by another photographer were discovered. Simpson has denied owning a pair of Bruno Magli shoes, the type of shoe believed to have left bloody footprints at the scene of the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman.


1/17/1997 - New Breast Cancer Gene Identified

A paper published in this week’s Journal of Biological Chemistry reveals the discovery of a new gene that may play a role in breast cancer. Molecular biologists Hava Avrahman and Sheila Licht say the new gene, CHK, is “off” in normal breast tissue and in benign abnormalities but turns on when breast tissues becomes cancerous. Dr. Jerome Groopman, another researcher on the study, said this discovery suggests that CHK is “part of breast defense against cancer.” Any hereditary nature of the gene is not known.

Stanford University researchers have announced in the journal Cell that they have found a tumor suppressor gene called TSG101 which is absent from cancerous tissue in late-stage breast cancer patients but is present in non-cancerous tissue from the same patients.


1/17/1997 - Women Alumnae Wielding More Financial Power

Women alumnae are increasingly giving high donations to their schools, and reaping the benefits. Women are beginning to take a more active role in policy making committees and on University councils. Women who join the UCLA Women and Philanthropy Group give $25,000 over a period of five years and serve on a committee to help shape campus policy. At least twelve such councils now exist for women donors, whose universities are beginning to see as an untapped source of economic resources. Most universities are also finding, however, that the women donors want to see their money aid women on campus. Groups often want more women tenured as faculty, scholarships set aside for women students, money set aside to recruit female athletes, and programs created to help women enter the workforce.

At Harvard University, for example, a group calling itself the Committee for the Equality of Women at Harvard boycotted the school’s $2 billion capital fundraising program. They urged Radcliffe and Harvard alumni to put their money into an escrow account which would be withheld until Harvard added more tenured women to its faculty. Peggy Schmertzler, chair of the committee, said that women at the school held only 11.5 percent of tenured positions on the faculties of arts and sciences; nationally women hold 22.6 percent of such tenured positions. So far, the account has accumulated more than $500,000. Subsequently, Harvard has formed a Women and Leadership Task Force of 41 alumnae to serve in an advisory capacity. The Washington Post has a full report on what motivates women to give to their alma mater, accessible from the related on article on the paper’s Web site.