Finally Passing the Equal Rights Amendment Would Be a Brilliant Bookend for Women’s History

by on December 1, 2020 · 1 comment

in Ocean Beach, Women's Rights

Champagne, Champagne: to Toast a Brilliant Bookend for Women’s History

By Colleen O’Connor

It only took 100 years from securing women’s right to vote to winning the Vice-Presidency.

Grandmothers; Great Grandmothers; and their ghostly presences are cheering.

My own grandmother was a suffragette who held strategy sessions in her farmhouse in North Dakota.

Could she have imagined a woman becoming the Vice-President of the United States; Speaker of the House of Representatives; Justices on the Supreme Court; Head of the U.S. Treasury; Secretary of State; Ambassador to the U.N.; Presidents of Colleges; Senior Counsel to the President; Director of Intergovernmental Affairs; Manager of Major League men’s sport team?

Probably not, but she would be cheering for all of them; astronauts; doctors, lawyers, aviators, professionals in sports, academia, fintech, bio-tech research, environmental justice; and so much more.

But, in that “before time,” when my grandmother was organizing and marching, women had few fields open to them.  Teacher, nurse, wife and mother.

The explosion of women in power may have taken one hundred years and thousands of hurdles and millions of setbacks, but it deserves a suitable bookend. From winning the vote to passage and ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.

A bookend that, I believe, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wants as her swan song.

Final ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution would include women as “persons;” currently not protected under the 14th Amendment. Battles on this simple equation have been waged, lost, and lingered since 1921.

Such an unassailable idea has been crushed, reborn, crushed some more, but is now possibly in sight of success.

This is the entirety of the ERA that cannot muster approval in a democracy.

“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: further that “the Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.”

Seriously, that is all it states, yet it has provoked mini-civil wars; even among women.

Hoping to build on the earlier Votes for Women success, the first version of an ERA was proposed in 1921 and introduced in Congress in December 1923.

It Failed.

The ERA gained traction, again, with the 1960s’ women’s movement and was re-introduced in 1971, passed the House; then the Senate; and was forwarded to state legislatures for ratification; with a seven-year deadline for states’ ratification.

Then extended for three more years.

Enter conservative icon, Phyllis Schafly.  See the movie.

Lots of support, then absurd claims of loss of labor laws, crushed civil liberties; and elimination of the “protective status of women;” (the “angel in the house”); and included a “mom and apple pie” slogan to for defeat the ERA.

More deadlines, more rescission; maybe more extensions.

A large majority of states, Governors, and even Presidents supported ratification, but some statehouses decided to rescind that vote; thus, missing the deadline for passage.

Then came another wave, the #MeToo movement, that demanded the ERA deadlines be erased and the amended language be enacted into law.

California Representative, Jackie Speier, re-introduced just such a bill. The House passed H.J. Res. 79 on February 13, 2020 by a vote of 232–183, which was along party lines though five Republicans joined in support.

The Trump administration firmly opposes adding any Equal Rights Amendment language to the US Constitution, and has sued in federal court to stop it.  No surprise there.

The real surprise may be what keeps Pelosi fighting.  Just as it was with Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

To get the ERA over the finish line. Ginsberg said an equal rights amendment should be implemented in the U.S., and noted that several constitutions around the world, including Afghanistan, have one.

“The union will be more perfect when that simple statement, that men and women are persons of equal citizenship stature, is part of our fundamental instrument of government,” the late great RGB said.

Pelosi is known to want the ERA ratified. And willing to move deadlines to make it happen.

Just this January, Virginia became the 38-state to ratify the ERA, meaning the ERA surpasses the three-quarters of states the amendment needs to be added to the Constitution.

Depends on the deadlines and the courts.

Still, imagine, Pelosi’s handoff to V.P. Kamala Harris, presiding over a potential tie breaker in the Senate, that finally approves the handful of states, who missed the deadline or rescinded their early vote and now want to ratify the ERA.

Wouldn’t that be a brilliant bookend to more than a century of struggles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Avatar jacque December 4, 2020 at 5:03 pm

Thank you so much for this. It is a subject very close to my heart. My grandmother at 20, Laura Etta Marable, marched with Susan B. Anthony in Chicago while she was a young nursing student there. She was so proud to have been part of that. She had a letter of thanks from Ms. Anthony, personally written and signed as to all the women who marched at that time. Unfortunately it has been lost. How I would love to have it now.

Jacque

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