The NATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR WOMEN (NOW), established locally in 1970 (4 years after the national founding), has advocated women's rights and promoted women's issues. Cleveland NOW was established largely through the efforts of Lois G. Adams, first president of the local chapter. A previous attempt to organize locally faltered in 1968, when organizer Betty Boyer and other members objected to the national organization's position on abortion. Using the membership list of the local NOW chapter she had formed, Boyer established the separate Women's Equity Action League. Reestablished in Cleveland under Adams's leadership in 1970, however, NOW grew steadily to 300 members by 1978. Through mergers, the Cleveland, Lakewood, North Olmsted, Hillcrest, and Heights chapters later were reduced to 2 in 1979, Cleveland and Cleveland East.
The local group established its activist orientation early in the 1970s, supporting the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) both in Ohio and nationally. This work led NOW to form a political-action committee to support candidates for political office. One successful result was the appointment of CLEVELAND STATE UNIV. law professor Ann Aldrich to the federal bench in May 1980.
NOW successfully urged schools to discontinue the use of sexist textbooks and to offer greater athletic opportunities for girls, and helped spur changes in discriminatory personnel policies. In 1976, in informal complaints to the Federal Communications Commission, Cleveland NOW charged the local television and radio stations with sexual and racial discrimination in hiring. NOW leaders credit the action with helping to change hiring practices and heightening awareness of the on-air treatment of WOMEN. NOW has also sponsored classes in home repair and auto mechanics, for example, and conferences and workshops on issues such as child care, abortion, and crime against women. In 1995 NOW's 4 priority issues were supporting an equal rights amendment, reproductive rights, lesbian rights, and combatting racism.