1980 June 6

Conflict Sinks Carter White House Conference on the Family

 

Some prominent conservative activists on this day staged a public protest and walked out of the first day of the White House Conference on the Family. President Jimmy Carter planned a conference on the family as part of his effort to make federal laws and policies more family-friendly. His plans were sabotaged, however, when conservative groups organized and gained representation at the conference, where they pressed a social agenda that conflicted with the president’s liberal agenda.

The conservative social agenda included many anti-civil liberties points on abortion, birth control, and women working outside the home. Fights during the planning process delayed the conference until the very end of Carter’s presidency. Although the final conference report did reflect the liberal agenda, it came so late that it had no real impact.

President Ronald Reagan, elected in November 1980, embraced the conservative family policies advocated by conservatives at this conference.

Learn more about the history of the family in America: Stephanie Coontz, The Way We Never Were: American Families and the Nostalgia Trap (1992)

Hear Stephanie Coontz discuss the history of the family: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MIeAnU7_7TA

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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