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The Equal Rights Amendment

missy

Super_Ideal_Rock
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I was talking with another PSer yesterday and this topic came up. And after reading a thread here I started thinking about it again. I would love to hear PSers thoughts about the ERA and how important do you feel it is. The fact that we still do not have this passed astounds me. Interested to hear others points of view.

Some background
http://www.equalrightsamendment.org/index.htm

and thoughts on why it is important to pass
http://www.equalrightsamendment.org/why.htm

Why We Need the Equal Rights Amendment

Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.
Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.



Without the ERA, the Constitution does not explicitly guarantee that the rights it protects are held equally by all citizens without regard to sex. The first — and still the only — right specifically affirmed as equal for women and men is the right to vote.
The equal protection clause of the Constitution's 14th Amendment was first applied to sex discrimination only in 1971, and it has never been interpreted to grant equal rights on the basis of sex in the uniform and inclusive way that the ERA would.


The ERA would provide a clearer judicial standard for deciding cases of sex discrimination, since federal and state courts (some working with state ERAs, some without) still reflect confusion and inconsistency in dealing with such claims. It would also clarify sex discrimination jurisprudence and 40 years of precedent for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who claimed in an interview reported in the January 2011 California Lawyer that the Constitution, specifically the 14th Amendment, does not protect against sex discrimination.


The ERA would provide a strong legal defense against a rollback of the significant advances in women's rights made in the past 50 years. Without it, Congress can weaken or replace existing laws on women's rights, and judicial precedents on issues of gender equality can be eroded or ignored by reactionary courts responding to a conservative political agenda.
Without the ERA, women regularly and men occasionally have to fight long, expensive, and difficult legal battles in an effort to prove that their rights are equal to those of the other sex.


The ERA would improve the United States' human rights standing in the world community. The governing documents of many other countries affirm legal gender equality, however imperfect the global implementation of that ideal may be.
printable document



After more than a generation of significant advances for women, do we still need the Equal Rights Amendment? The answer is an unqualified yes! Legal sex discrimination is not yet a thing of the past, and the progress of the past 50 years is not irreversible. Some remaining inequities result more from individual behavior and social practices than from legal discrimination, but they can all be influenced by a strong message that the Constitution has zero tolerance for any form of sex discrimination. Thus, the reasons why we need the ERA are at one level philosophical and symbolic, and at another level very specific and practical.



The Equal Rights Amendment is needed to affirm constitutionally that the bedrock principles of our democracy — "all men are created equal," "liberty and justice for all," "equal justice under law," "government of the people, by the people, and for the people" — apply equally to women.

In principle:

It is necessary to have specific language in the Constitution affirming the principle of equal rights on the basis of sex because for more than two centuries, women have had to fight long and hard political battles to win rights that men (at first certain white men, eventually all men) possessed automatically because they were male. The first — and still the only — right that the Constitution specifically affirms equally for women and men is the right to vote. Alice Paul introduced the ERA in 1923 to expand that affirmation to all the rights guaranteed by the Constitution.

It was not until as recently as 1971 that the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause was first applied to sex discrimination. Even today, a major distinction between the sexes is present from the moment of birth — the different legal standing of males and females with respect to how their constitutional rights are obtained. As demonstrated in 1996 by the last major Supreme Court decision on sex discrimination, regarding admission of women to Virginia Military Institute (VMI), we have not moved beyond the traditional assumption that males hold rights and females must prove that they hold them. The Equal Rights Amendment would remove that differential assumption and shift the burden of proof to the alleged discriminator.

In practice:

The practical effect of this amendment would be seen most clearly in court deliberations on cases of sex discrimination. For the first time, "sex" would be a suspect classification requiring the same high level of "strict scrutiny" and having to meet the same high level of justification — a "necessary" relation to a "compelling" state interest — that the classification of race currently requires.

The VMI decision now tells courts to exercise "skeptical scrutiny" requiring "exceedingly persuasive" justification of differential treatment on the basis of sex, but prohibition of sex discrimination is still not as strongly enforceable as prohibition of race discrimination. Ironically, under current court decisions about sex and race discrimination, a white male claiming race discrimination by a program or action is protected by strict scrutiny, but a black female claiming sex discrimination by the same program or action is protected by only skeptical, not strict, scrutiny.

We need the ERA to clarify the law for the lower courts, whose decisions still reflect confusion and inconsistency about how to deal with sex discrimination claims. If the ERA were in the Constitution, it would in many cases influence the tone of legal reasoning and decisions regarding women's equal rights, producing over time a cumulative positive effect.



The Equal Rights Amendment is needed in order to prevent a rollback of women's rights by conservative/reactionary political votes, and to promote laws and court decisions that fairly take into account women's as well as men's experiences.

In principle:

Aren't there already enough legal prohibitions of sex discrimination — the Equal Pay Act, Title VII and Title IX of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, Supreme Court decisions based on the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause, and more? Why are there still people saying, as Alice Paul did in 1923, "We shall not be safe until the principle of equal rights is written into the framework of our government"?

The need for the ERA can be expressed simply as a warning. Unless we put into the Constitution the bedrock principle that equality of rights cannot be denied or abridged on account of sex, the political and judicial victories women have achieved with their blood, sweat, and tears for the past two centuries are vulnerable to erosion or reversal at any time — now or in the future.

Congress has the power to make laws that replace existing laws — and to do so by a simple majority. Therefore, many of the current legal protections against sex discrimination can be removed by the margin of a single vote. While courts in the near term would still apply skeptical scrutiny to laws that differentiate on the basis of sex, that precedent could be undermined or eventually ignored by future conservative or reactionary courts. With a specific constitutional guarantee of equal rights through the Equal Rights Amendment, it would be much harder for legislators and courts to reverse our progress in eliminating sex discrimination.

In practice:

Would anyone really want to turn back the clock on women's advancement? Ask the members of Congress who have tried to cripple Title IX, which requires equal opportunity in education — who have opposed the Violence Against Women Act, the Fair Pensions Act, and the Paycheck Fairness Act — who voted to pay for Viagra for servicemen but oppose funding for family planning and contraception — who for decades have blocked U.S. ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

Most laws that discriminated explicitly against women have been removed from the books — in many cases, as a result of the political power and expertise developed by women in the course of the ERA ratification campaign. The current legal and judicial systems, however, still often have an impact on women that works to their disadvantage, because those systems have traditionally used the male experience as the norm.

Therefore, lawmakers and judges must be encouraged to include equitable consideration of female experiences as they deal with issues of Social Security, taxes, wages, pensions, domestic relations, insurance, violence, and more. Without an Equal Rights Amendment providing motivation, the status quo will change much more slowly.
 

azstonie

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Missy, it astounds me that the ERA apparently died in the 70s and early 80s.

I guess the paltry gains made on the backs of our great grandmothers, grandmothers. mothers, aunts, and sisters are now assumed to be both permanent and adequate.

Get ready, Millenials and those women who follow them---you'll have to fight for it all again in the years to come. We're the only developed country on the planet who still fights over women's healthcare. Not even Italy and Ireland.

Complacency.
 

missy

Super_Ideal_Rock
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Thanks Kristie. I agree completely. And thank you for opening my eyes re the Equal Rights Amendment.


azstonie said:
Missy, it astounds me that the ERA apparently died in the 70s and early 80s.

I guess the paltry gains made on the backs of our great grandmothers, grandmothers. mothers, aunts, and sisters are now assumed to be both permanent and adequate.

Get ready, Millenials and those women who follow them---you'll have to fight for it all again in the years to come. We're the only developed country on the planet who still fights over women's healthcare. Not even Italy and Ireland.

Complacency.
 

AGBF

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Thank you, missy. That we women do not have equal rights is, of course, outrageous. I wonder if there would still be a legal way to force us to give birth to babies against our will and have transvaginal ultrasounds for non-medical reasons even if we were granted equal rights under the law, however. Granting us rights to abortions under the law in the first three months under Roe v. Wade didn't give us the right to abortions in the first three months, after all.

AGBF
 

smitcompton

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Hi,

Missy, New York passed the equal rights amendment in the 1970s. I know because I voted for it then. I moved out of NY in 1975 and when I returned for a visit somehow NY rescinded, because it was no longer considered passed in NY. One problem is that it needs, I think 3/4 of some Congressional body) to become an amendment and there was no way to muster the votes needed. It takes a lot of votes for an amendment. Look South and you can see the difficulty.


ps. I think it may be 3/4 of the states to ratify.--don't remember if the Senate is the one to vote. Annette
 

missy

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Thanks Deb and Annette. I don't care how difficult it is to pass it should pass don't you think? I mean it is for "EQUAL RIGHTS" which we are all about in this country supposedly. Even if it is just a matter of semantics in passing it (which I don't feel it is anyway) we need to pass it IMO. Who would have guessed it would be so controversial an amendment.

I don't know enough about the specific issues attached to the amendment and why it was *not* passed or rescinded because as I said I was not even aware of any of the details till I spoke with Kristie the other day. But I feel it is a travesty that in 2016 we still do not have this amendment on the books. Outrageous is right Deb.

Also sad is that is seems most PSers don't care about the ERA amendment given the lack of responses here. The fact that PS is mainly women (DF what are the statistics on that do you know :cheeky: ) I was hoping to hear some more people chiming in about this. Admittedly I am ignorant when it comes to this Amendment and that is why I started the thread. I wanted to hear others thoughts about it and why it has not passed and if they think it is important to pass... etc...
 

ksinger

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missy|1453978494|3982884 said:
Thanks Deb and Annette. I don't care how difficult it is to pass it should pass don't you think? I mean it is for "EQUAL RIGHTS" which we are all about in this country supposedly. Even if it is just a matter of semantics in passing it (which I don't feel it is anyway) we need to pass it IMO. Who would have guessed it would be so controversial an amendment.

I don't know enough about the specific issues attached to the amendment and why it was *not* passed or rescinded because as I said I was not even aware of any of the details till I spoke with Kristie the other day. But I feel it is a travesty that in 2016 we still do not have this amendment on the books. Outrageous is right Deb.

Also sad is that is seems most PSers don't care about the ERA amendment given the lack of responses here. The fact that PS is mainly women (DF what are the statistics on that do you know :cheeky: ) I was hoping to hear some more people chiming in about this. Admittedly I am ignorant when it comes to this Amendment and that is why I started the thread. I wanted to hear others thoughts about it and why it has not passed and if they think it is important to pass... etc...
In my experience, most people are uninterested in history in general. The ERA is just one more old thing they don't care about.

The ERA battle played out through most of my childhood and teen years and was barely curling at the edges when I was in high school. I doubt many later PSers got much about the ERA in high school because it was too recent to be history. I just asked my husband if he teaches anything about the ERA, even in passing, and he sighed a heavy sigh, and said right now he's at Eisenhower and must be to Bush II by April. He barely gets to touch McCarthy and only has 3 days for Kennedy. IF the ERA gets mentioned, it gets...mentioned.

I know everyone slags Wikipedia, but on stuff like this it's usually pretty good for a decently accurate outline at least. Phyllis Schlafly, the evil hag, was a large part of stoking the fears used in the culture wars. I DO remember her quite well.

Hubs (even though he doesn't get to actually teach it, he knows a bit. :) ) just pointed out that you also can't ignore the role of race in the defeat of the ERA. that one of the reasons for the intense pushback, was the fact that blacks were pushing harder at the same time for more real equality (forced busing all over the country, anyone?). So now our WIVES are pushing for it? The ERA coincided with too much other cultural upheaval, basically. Of course, people can say today that it's outrageous that we still don't have an ERA, but given what we've seen about how everything old is new again - ie, racism has never been gone, it should be no surprise that the ERA failed when conservative cultural fears were properly stoked. And of course, nowadays, the thought that there would be enough agreement in this country on ANYTHING, to pass any constitutional amendment, is truly a pipe dream.
 

missy

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Karen, I just lost a very long post. Serves me right to try writing out a long post via phone on the go. Suffice to say I appreciate you and your dh's point of view regarding this topic and I agree. It is all connected.

The sad thing is I do not remember learning about this in any school environment. I went to Barnard college for all my undergraduate studies so one would think there was a healthy dose of women's studies even though most of our courses (and dorms see the bathroom thread lol) were shared with the Columbia male students. Oh well time to start learning and reading more about this on my own. That is the sweetest learning of all anyway. Free from the pressures of being a formal student. I sadly lack any real knowledge re this part of history which is a surprise given where I studied during my undergraduate years. Liberal arts college and I was a science major sure but still how was this skipped in my intro history courses?

A quick search and I found this interesting link written by an adjunct Barnard professor.

http://barnard.edu/news/book-history-faculty-nancy-woloch-explores-debate-over-protective-laws-women-workers

Ok off to continue with my day but wanted to thank you and the others for sharing your thoughts. I feel if I was lacking in this area others here might be too so shared with the hopes of learning more from you and maybe raising some awareness for those who like me just don't know much about this topic.
 

ksinger

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Be sure and read the Wikipedia section on opposition to the ERA. Sounds very much like current rhetoric, and is coming from the usual suspects.

I'd also like to give my observation that young women are often eschewing the label of "feminist". Those who don't, consider themselves "third wave", and have quite a bit of criticism for their mothers/grandmothers. But while they are arguing over this flaw in my and my mother's feminism, I don't see that the youngsters are actually DOING something. Blogging and social media do NOT count in this. At the core of getting stuff done, is organization and political engagement. I hope someone will educate me if I've read the cards wrong, but I'm not seeing that in young women. Oh well, it's their world to live in now. I hope they've been paying attention to the fact that all the second wave worked to get for them, is eroding fast, because they will be the ones paying the price for my complacency (when I was young I honestly thought we could not lose the rights we'd gained. I was dead wrong) and their own.
 

smitcompton

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Hi,

Last nite I did remember why NY's vote on the ERA was rescinded. It had to do with TIME. The passage of the amendment had to be done within 2 yrs(JUst a guess) or it would require starting all over. The vote was on the ballot for your state. Phyllis Schafly(SP
was a piece of work and worked against the passage nationally.

Young women today aren't really unhappy with their lot in life. They don't much care for the political process, and who can blame them. You can't seem to get anything done.

In todays environment I don't think you could get the ERA passed.

Annette
 

missy

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Annette that very well might be true but I agree with Karen and Kristie in that if today's young women become/are complacent with the status quo they may live to regret that. Things can and often do change and if one is not moving forward well backwards is the only way to go.
 

Dancing Fire

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[quote="missy|
Also sad is that is seems most PSers don't care about the ERA amendment given the lack of responses here. The fact that PS is mainly women (DF what are the statistics on that do you know :cheeky: ) I was hoping to hear some more people chiming in about this. Admittedly I am ignorant when it comes to this Amendment and that is why I started the thread. I wanted to hear others thoughts about it and why it has not passed and if they think it is important to pass... etc...[/quote]



Yes I believe in ER which means the husband should be sporting the same size diamond as his wife... :tongue:
 

AGBF

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At some point I may read about the ERA on some secondary source like Wikipedia, but what I know, like what Annette knows, comes from living through the entire time when it was being considered. Having to be at the right college to get the right course seems like a terribly hard way to have to learn about what was such a natural part of my life! (I am sure that my parents and grandparents felt the same was about the Great Depression; the rise of fascism; and World War II when talking to me. Why did I have to be taught about it?)

Like Annette, I do not recall every detail clearly, but I recall the basics. It was a terribly radical proposition back in those days and people were willing to be swayed by the likes of Phyllis Schlafly, who was a hideous woman. She and her ilk used tactics to scare the populace into thinking that the ERA would cause women to be placed in positions of terrible danger where they would lose any safety they currently had: they would lose their income; lose their rights in divorces; lose their rights to their children in custody battles; end up being compelled to serve in the marines doing hand-to-hand combat even while pregnant; and so forth. It was ridiculous...and extremely effective.

AGBF
 
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