The Rights Revolution

June 23, 1978

Report Outline
Evidence of a Rights Backlash
Changing Tenor of Protest
Future of the Rights Struggle
Special Focus

Evidence of a Rights Backlash

Growing Resistance to Rights Movement

Over the past three decades, Americans have witnessed a rights revolution. Starting with the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, the demand for equal rights and for protection from discrimination spread to such diverse groups as women, the physically handicapped, homosexuals, the poor and inmates of prisons, jails and mental institutions. “The result,” wrote professor Milton R. Konvitz of Cornell University, “was an unprecedented period of progress toward equality within the nation.”

The rights movements have unquestionably bettered the social and economic positions of millions of Americans. At the same time, however, there is a growing fear that the demand for group rights has gone too far. The once-vaunted vision of the American melting pot is seen by some as being irreparably shattered by group demands for special treatment.

As these strains intensify, signs of a “rights backlash” are beginning to appear. In recent months, voters in Dade County, Fla., St. Paul, Minn., Wichita, Kan. and Eugene, Ore., have repealed ordinances barring discrimination against homosexuals. A group called the Interstate Congress for Equal Rights and Responsibilities is leading a nationwide protest against recent court decisions vastly expanding Indian rights. The Equal Rights Amendment, overwhelmingly passed by Congress in 1972, is stalled three states short of ratification. And growing numbers of white males, charging that they are victims of reverse discrimination, are going to court seeking redress.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
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Apr. 03, 2020  The Equal Rights Amendment
Apr. 17, 2015  Girls' Rights
Apr. 03, 2012  Women's Rights
Nov. 13, 2009  Women in the Military
May 2008  Women's Rights
Mar. 21, 2008  Women in Politics
Feb. 28, 1997  Feminism's Future
Oct. 13, 1989  Should Women Be Allowed into Combat?
Jul. 28, 1989  Do Pregnant Women Lose Legal Rights?
Sep. 17, 1982  Women and Politics
Dec. 15, 1978  Equal Rights Fight
Jun. 23, 1978  The Rights Revolution
Jun. 13, 1975  International Women's Year
Jul. 05, 1973  Women's Consciousness Raising
Oct. 11, 1972  Women Voters
Aug. 05, 1970  Status of Women
Feb. 20, 1956  Women in Politics
Jan. 24, 1951  Womanpower in Mobilization
Apr. 04, 1946  Equal Rights Amendment
May 31, 1927  The Woman's Vote in National Elections
Civil Rights and Civil Liberty Issues
Civil Rights Movement
Civil Rights: Gay, Lesbian and Transgendered
Civil Rights: Women
Domestic Issues