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From its inception, the League has worked for equal rights and social reforms. In the early years, the League was one of the first organizations to address such issues as child welfare, maternal and child health programs, child labor protection and laws that discriminated against women.
In the 1960s, with the nation’s unrest over civil rights, the League began building a foundation of support for equal access to education, employment and housing. The fight against discrimination broadened in the 1970s and 1980s, and the League supported the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) in 1972, fighting hard for ratification by the states. As that effort fell short, support for the ERA undergirded action on issues from pay equity to Title IX, which required equal educational opportunity for women.
Based on 1970s work to combat poverty and discrimination, a two-year study evaluating public and private responsibilities for providing food, shelter and a basic income level ended in1988 and culminated in a position on Meeting Basic Human Needs. Programs to increase the availability and quality of child care and protect children at risk remained a concern.
In the 1980s, fiscal issues, from tax reform to entitlement programs and deficit reduction, were at the forefront of the League program. The League was a major force in the tax-reform effort to cut loopholes and promote fairness. It sought deficit reduction while protecting federal old-age, survivors, disability and health insurance.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the League worked to increase the availability of quality child care and adopted a position in favor of community and government programs to help children reach their full potential, including early childhood education.
Leagues nationwide also work hard on transportation issues, focusing on environmental protection and ensuring the availability of public transportation for access to employment and housing.
In the 1990s, concern for violence prevention spurred a new League position and brought strong support for commonsense measures to control gun violence. The League supported the Brady bill and sought to close
loopholes that undermine consumer safety.
The 2006 Convention voted to undertake a study on immigration. After study and consensus, the new position was finalized in 2008 and sent to Capitol Hill.
Given the growing crisis in health care delivery and financing in the 1990s, the League developed a comprehensive position supporting a health care system that provides access to affordable, quality health care for all Americans and protects patients’ rights. In 2010, the League’s efforts saw success – the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was signed into law. Throughout the 112th Congress, the League continued to defend the ACA from challenges in Congress and the Courts.
At Convention 2010, delegates voted to study the role of the Federal Government in Public Education and in March 2012, the board announced a new position. Delegates to Convention 2012 adopted by concurrence a new position on Sentencing Equality.