The ERA – NOW pending
by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster, ERA Campaign Network California Coordinator
Wording of the Equal Rights Amendment:
Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the
United States or by any state on account of sex.
You may think that the Equal Rights Amendment is dead; however, you would be wrong. It has never been more alive and ready to become law.
On October 19^th Representative Arthenia Joyner of Florida filed a bill in
the state legislature there calling for ratification. The bill, (HCR 8005) will be considered in the 2006 Legislative Session.
For some years now a small but determined group of women have been
pursuing ratification of the long overdue ERA through a strategy they call the Three State Strategy. The ERA was passed by Congress in 1972, and sent for the required ratification by at least 38 (three-fourths) of the 50 states. Although the 1972 Congress had stipulated a 7-year ratification time limit, the 1978 Congress extended the time limit 3 more years, to 1982 -- by which time 35, not 38, states had ratified. In spite of common assumptions that the ERA was therefore "dead," more recent legal analyses conclude that the time limit could be extended again, or even eliminated, so that ratification by just three more states would complete the process and add the ERA to the Constitution.
This time we need to make sure it happens – we can and must. The comment
by then-candidate for Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts on the standards applied to gender issues as opposed to other issues of equality sent chills down many spines in the last months.
The newly passed ERA was sent to the states from Congress in 1972 and
everyone believed that it would be ratified by the required 38 states quickly but instead it became a political football linked to issues that have nothing to do with simple equality. Many institutions and powerful people who benefit from keeping women second class citizens, including Phyllis Schlafly, have made careers of opposing an equality that is essential to women – and to our culture as a whole.
What happened instead was a series of laws that assert 'fairness', many passed on the state level. On these women hang their trust that their rights are protected. Without the clear and specific backing of the federal Constitution, even the best laws improving women'srights and opportunities can (and often are) weakened, poorly (or never) enforced, or even overturned. Without the ERA, women cannot count on the Supreme Court to prohibit that from happening.
The ERA Campaign network and those involved in the active campaigns now underway in Florida, Illinois, Missouri, Georgia, and Arizona need help to ensure that three more state ratifications are achieved. The other states that have not ratified are:/Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana,
Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, and Virginia.
There are organizations in nearly all of these states that are working and need help.
You can help make it happen. You probably noticed that most of the unratified states are southern, Many of us now living in other parts of the country have connections to those states. We may leave our state but we keep our friends, school chums and family. With help from the Internet former southerners are creating a network to build understanding and support for the ongoing effort.
Many of us have connections of other kinds to the unratified states; our families might have come from there, we might have gone to school there, we might have friends who have moved there. Or our favorite novel might have been set there. The threads of connection are weaving new patterns for women across the nation, connections that will ensure that girls growing up now will have
their rights secured to them as individuals. Many of us have had the experience of 'adopting' a child in absentia and sending money or presents to a family in need in another country. You can 'adopt' a state as a member of that state's ERA Caucus and help by letting your friends and family know about the ongoing efforts and by donating yourself to your adopted state and by getting your friends and
family and associates to do the same.
In this way we can forge new connections between women and all fair minded people throughout the country, connections that can last even after we have finished the work of ratification.
The women who have poured their lives into this work come from every kind of background; what they have in common is a sense of humor (you have to have one of those to keep on trucking) and the raw determination to see equality a reality in their lifetimes.
There are friends waiting to get to know you!
Help make the ERA a reality in our life times. Adopt one of these states as your own and donate, organize support and keep updated. Your daughter and granddaughters will be glad you did!
Coordinators for unratified states
Alabama: Elizabeth Crandall, firstname.lastname@example.org
Arizona: Kathie Kelly, ERACampaignAZ@aol.com, 602-690-1038, or Joan Meacham, SusieQ3@cox.net, 480-471-7792
Arkansas: Berta Seitz, BSeitz@fayar.net
Florida: Sandy Oestreich, RatifyERA@cs.com, 727-393-0932, www.RatifyERAflorida.net
Georgia: Coordinator declines to be named.
Illinois: Gayle Guthrie, ERAillinois@cs.com, 773-477-0164
Louisiana: Sandra Hufstetler, era.Louisiana@LA-4-equity.us
Mississippi: Terri Elliott Mason, email@example.com
Missouri: Shirley Breeze, SBreeze@mindspring.com
Oklahoma: Leona Evans, ERACampaignOK@msn.com
Virginia: Donna King, firstname.lastname@example.org
See Florida's bill's text below, which is identical to SCR 204 we
referred to in our previous message, and with brand new Whereas-es.
Senate bill is referenced now only to two committees, but one is Senate
Judiciary. Current FL Sen. Rod Smith, gubernatorial candidate,
co-introduced SCR 204.
ERA bills' wording 2006:
House Concurrent Resolution
2 A concurrent resolution ratifying the proposed amendment
3 to the Constitution of the United States relating to equal
4 rights for men and women.
6 WHEREAS, the Equal Rights Amendment was first introduced in
7 Congress in 1923 and was filed every session thereafter from
8 1923 to 1972, and
9 WHEREAS, the Equal Rights Amendment was finally approved by
10 Congress in 1972 and sent to the states for ratification with a
11 7-year deadline, and
12 WHEREAS, in 1978 Congress extended the original
13 ratification deadline for 3 more years, and
14 WHEREAS, Congress placed a deadline of June 30, 1982, on
15 the ratification process for the Equal Rights Amendment for men
16 and women and 35 states ratified the proposed amendment before
17 the deadline, and
18 WHEREAS, Congress submitted the Madison Amendment to the
19 states as part of the proposed Bill of Rights on September 25,
20 1789, which relates to the timing of Congressional pay raises,
21 but it was not ratified until 203 years later in 1992, making it
22 the Twenty-seventh Amendment to the United States Constitution
23 and establishing a precedent such that the Equal Rights
24 Amendment is sufficiently contemporaneous and therefore remains
25 viable, and
26 WHEREAS, in 1998 Florida voters, by a margin of 65 percent
27 to 35 percent, approved a similar amendment to the Florida
28 Constitution when they approved Revision 9, which added and
29 clarified that "all natural persons, female and male alike, are
30 equal before the law," therefore clearly indicating that
31 ratification of the federal Equal Rights Amendment would be
32 fully consistent with the will of the majority of voters in this
33 state, and
34 WHEREAS, Article V of the United States Constitution allows
35 the Legislature of the State of Florida to ratify this proposed
36 amendment to the Constitution of the United States, and
37 WHEREAS, the Legislature of the State of Florida finds that
38 the Equal Rights Amendment for men and women is reasonable and
39 sufficiently contemporaneous and needed in the United States
40 Constitution because while women enjoy more rights today than
41 they did when the Equal Rights Amendment was first introduced in
42 1923 or when it passed out of Congress in 1972, hard-won laws
43 against gender discrimination do not rest on any unequivocal
44 constitutional foundation and the laws can be inconsistently
45 enforced or even repealed, and
46 WHEREAS, elements of gender discrimination remain in
47 statutory and case law, and courts have had difficulty applying
48 a consistent standard to gender classifications which are not
49 inherently suspect or comparable to racial or ethnic
50 classifications under equal-protection analysis, and
51 WHEREAS, the Equal Rights Amendment for men and women is
52 necessary in order to have a clear constitutional guarantee that
53 gender is considered a suspect classification and entitled to
54 the same strict scrutiny that courts reserve for race, religion,
55 and national origin, NOW, THEREFORE,
57 Be It Resolved by the House of Representatives of the State of
58 Florida, the Senate Concurring:
60 That the proposed amendment to the Constitution of the
61 United States set forth below is ratified by the Legislature of
62 the State of Florida.
64 "SECTION 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be
65 denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on
66 account of sex.
67 "SECTION 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce,
68 by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
69 "SECTION 3. This amendment shall take effect two years
70 after the date of ratification."
71 BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that certified copies of the
72 foregoing preamble and resolution be immediately forwarded by
73 the Secretary of State of the State of Florida, under the great
74 seal, to the President of the United States, the Secretary of
75 State of the United States, the President of the Senate of the
76 United States, the Speaker of the House of Representatives of
77 the United States, and the Administrator of General Services of
78 the United States.