Among the thousands of delegates at the Democratic National Convention, one from California recalls when women were not only ineligible for the ultimate prize –- the presidential nomination –- but struggled to get an equal number of seats on the convention floor.
Los Angeles attorney Gloria Allred was an alternate delegate in 1976 when she made a motion to the convention that rocked the establishment: half of all delegates, she said, should be female. That was also the year that Georgia Gov. Jimmy Carter was nominated for president and that Rep. Barbara Jordan became the first woman to give the keynote speech at a major party convention.
It was two years later that the Democrats formally adopted the “equal division” rule, which required the convention to have an equal number of men and women as delegates. At this week’s 2016 edition, the roughly 6,000 delegates will be almost evenly divided between women and men.
“I have fought for women’s rights and the right for women to be equally involved in the political system and to have equal representation at all levels of government,” said Allred, who was also returning to her home town of Philadelphia. “So to be here this week and to see Hillary as the first woman ever nominated by a major party is very exciting. It is history.”
Allred, 75, is again part of the California delegation, and can count herself among the few Democratic activists who have already confronted Republican nominee Donald Trump head on, and won. Allred represented Miss Canada/Miss Universe beauty pageant entrant Jenna Talackova in 2012, when she was ejected from the pageant for being a transgender individual who was born a man.
Allred was able to get Talackova reinstated to the then-Trump-owned pageant and to rescind a rule that required contestants to be “naturally born” females.
“I know the only way to beat Trump is to confront him, head on and to refuse to let him get away with his bullying behavior,” said Allred. “I think people want someone to stand up and confront him. I think strong approach with Trump is warranted and that Hillary is more than capable of fighting back and winning this battle.”