JANUARY 30, 2008
Ted Kennedy’s coveted endorsement has created a heated public feud at the nation’s largest organization of feminist activists, with some leaders feeling abandoned and betrayed that he went with the “new guy” and others defending his decision not to stand by the candidate who could become the first female president.
To the surprise of many, the veteran Massachusetts senator announced this week that he supports Illinois Senator Barak Obama for president over New York Senator Hillary Clinton, even though the renowned Kennedy clan and the Clintons are longtime friends.
The announcement upset many feminists and caused friction within the National Organization for Women (NOW), the country’s largest and most powerful feminist group with half a million members and 550 chapters scattered throughout all 50 states. Chapter heads usually agree on issues and always join forces to bring equality for all women and eliminate discrimination and harassment.
But this week things got a bit nasty between the heads of NOW’s New York State chapter and the national headquarters in Washington, D.C. Ironically, the feud is over a notorious womanizer who is probably enjoying the fact that women are fighting over him, or rather, his precious endorsement.
New York NOW blasted Kennedy for backing Obama (“the new guy”) instead of Clinton, calling it the ultimate betrayal and abandonment and accusing Kennedy of joining a list of progressive white men who can’t handle the prospect of a woman president. In a hard-hitting press release the group points out that women have forgiven Kennedy, stuck up for him, stood by him and hushed the fact that he was late in supporting several equal rights measures throughout the years.
At the organization’s headquarters in Washington D.C., outraged NOW President Kim Gandy responded by saying she respects Kennedy’s endorsement and confirming her group’s “enormous respect and admiration” for the controversial senator, who let a female companion drown in the car he recklessly drove off a bridge in Chappaquiddick nearly four decades ago. Gandy reminded Americans that Kennedy has for decades been a leader and fighter for women’s civil and reproductive rights.
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