1978 August 1

Midge Costanza, Carter Administration Rights Advocate, Resigns


Midge Costanza was the head of the Office of Public Liaison in President Jimmy Carter’s administration, in charge of outreach to specific constituencies including women, reproductive rights advocates, and lesbian and gay rights activists. As an advisor to the president, she was the highest-ranking woman in the Carter administration. They had met when Carter helped in her successful campaign for the at-large seat on City Council of Rochester, New York, in 1973; she then became Vice-Mayor through that position. In the Carter administration, she was responsible for the first-ever meeting of lesbian and gay rights activists in the White House, on March 26, 1977.

Her advocacy proved to be a little too strong for President Carter, and he came to believe that she was encouraging feminist criticisms of his policies. He finally became disenchanted with her and, by downgrading her office, forced her to resign.

Learn more about Midge Costanza at the San Diego Women’s Hall of Fame: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjxewZ3pjV8

Watch Midge Costanza in debate: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mS0ICDW5IMU

Learn more about President Carter’s civil liberties record: Samuel Walker, Presidents and Civil Liberties From Wilson to Obama (2012)

Learn more about Carter’s post-presidential work at the Carter Center: http://www.cartercenter.org/index.html

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