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Gloria Allred is a founding partner in the Los Angeles law firm of Allred, Maroko & Golberg. A noted feminist and women's rights attorney, she has represented a wide variety[…]

Women have made progress under the law—but not enough progress. And family law is rife with problems.

Question: Are women treated fairly by the legal system?

Gloriarn Allred: Well there's some progress for women, but obviously we do rnnot have enough progress. Women do not have enough rights and those rnrights that we have we have to work to enforce. And, for example, we arern coming up to the 90th anniversary of women's winning the right to vote.rn That's the 19th Amendment—the addition to the 19th Amendment, suffrage rnto the United States Constitution, August 26th, 1920. And we do not yet rnenjoy the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment to the United States rnConstitution which we have been working to win ever since Alice Paul rnproposed it in 1923.

So, in other words, it has taken us all rnthese years and it's still... even though we have a democratic congress,rn not coming out of the Congress. We almost won it some years ago before rnthere was a time limitation passed on the Equal Rights Amendment which rnhadn't been passed for any other amendment. And so we were not able to rnsucceed in getting it added at that time as an amendment.  So we need torn have more activism to win the ERA now, because all it says is that the rnequality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the rnUnited States or by any state on account of gender, or on the account ofrn sex.

And those simple words should be part of our Constitution, rnbecause without it we do not enjoy first class citizenship. We do not rnenjoy all the legal rights and privileges that men enjoy and we often rnsay in the women's movement: "Men their rights and nothing more, women rntheir rights and nothing less." So we do need to pass that.

rn What laws do you think are particularly unfair toward women?

Gloriarn Allred:  Well I think there are laws and there are regulations... rnand family law is an area which is just ripe with problems and very muchrn in need of improvement... all kinds of issues, child support for rnexample. Most mothers are awarded an inadequate amount of child support rnif they are awarded any child support at all. Not sufficient to support rnthe child and that's what this is all about. And the enforcement of rnchild support is relatively poor in this country and the net affect of rnthat is that it is the inability to collect child support or an adequatern amount of child support that is the number one reason that rnwomen—millions of them—are forced onto welfare roles and into lives of rnpoverty, forced to receive to aid to families with dependent children, rnAFDC, because of the inadequacy of child support laws and the inadequacyrn of those laws.

And most of those who have an order for child rnsupport are women, because generally as the mother taking care of the rnchild. So it has an adverse impact on women and children but while therern are some steps to do something about it and to relieve these burdens rnfrom these mothers and from the tax payers and place the responsibility rnwhere it belongs, on the non-custodial parent, mainly the father, rnthere's still too many deadbeat dads and really not a real commitment rnfrom the system to make major improvements.

So that is just one rnarea but there are many other areas, as well, that need improvement in rnemployment, in child sexual abuse, rape, sexual harassment. There's justrn many, many changes that need to be made in the law. So bottom line is rnwe are still making her-story. We still are fighting to win changes and rnso we need more women elected to office—feminist women. We need them as rnrepresentatives in our state legislature. We need them at all levels of rnpower. In the Federal Government we often say a woman's place is in the rnhouse, the House of Representatives, now we say it's also in the house, rnthe White House. And in the United States Senate, where we still do not rnhave equal representation of women. We just have a small percent of all rnUnited States senators are women. And we need more women as judges and rnboards, commissions, and agencies.
rnSo, in employment we need more women at the top levels. There's still rnthe glass ceiling where women can see to the top in business but often rncan't make it through the glass ceiling, which prevents them from rngetting to the top. Glass ceiling is another way of saying women are rnstill being discriminated against on account of their gender.

Here'srn the good news, women are fighting back through lawsuits and they're rnwinning but unfortunately sometimes women say to me, "Well, why do I rnhave to fight for my rights? I thought I had them." Well, you don't havern them unless you stand up and enforce those rights. So we're like rnprivate attorney generals in our law firm. Allred, Maroko and Goldberg, rnwhere I've been practicing for 35 years, as a founding partner of the rnlaw firm. And we take these rights seriously. They are meant for the rnprotection of our clients and women everywhere.

Recorded on June 9, 2010
Interviewed by David Hirschman