I, an American woman, am still not considered equal under the law to any male citizen.
Eighty-five years ago, in 1920, when my grandmother was four years old, women in the United States received the right to vote, seventy-two years after that basic right had been declared by Elizabeth Cady Stanton at the first convention on woman’s rights.
In 1923, and every year since, an Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution has been fought for – and against – in Congress, but remains three states short of ratification. The states in which it has not been approved are:
I don’t know how people in those states can even look themselves in the mirror. How can you say your mother, your sister, your daughter, is not the equal under the law of any man in the state? Because, really, that’s what you’re saying and that’s all you’re saying.
The complete text of the Equal Rights Amendment is
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.
That’s it. The ERA does not invalidate state abortion laws. The ERA does not provide the right to same-sex marriages. The ERA does not make single-sex institutions illegal. It says that what’s between your legs shouldn’t entitle you to more or less protection under the law.
Yes, I have freedom and some legal precedent and no manifest threat against my liberty, but that is not enough. I want my basic equality declared by the country of my birth and the home of democracy.
Frederick Douglass said at that convention for the rights of woman in 1848, "All that distinguishes man as an intelligent and accountable being is equally true of woman. … Our doctrine is that right is of no sex."
8 thoughts on “A reminder”
Hi! As one of your pals recently emigrated from Illinois, I can tell you that politics in that state, and in the city of Chicago specifically, are *fucked up*. But a bill to ratify the ERA was introduced in the Illinois House of Representatives in January. Considering that we just passed anti-discrimination law for queer people this year, I’d be stunned to see IL HC0003 get shot down. I seriously hope it gets voted in.
But come on… how do we look ourselves in the mirror? Easy: as much as we’d like our city and state governments to be representative, they often are not. I wish the Daley Machine was representative of the people back when I lived in Chicago, but just as an example, back in 2003 he pulled shit like proclaiming that the city did not support the war in Iraq, then following it up with a big round-up of protestors.
Besides, California has the Governator. You wanna take responsibility for that? 🙂
I’m as angry as you are, Dinah, that there are states blocking the ERA. But making blanket statements about folks based on their location, well… that doesn’t help anyone. That’s all I’m saying.
 http://www.equalrightsamendment.org/ — sadly, no permalink, but it’s in the pull-out box with the header ‘POLITICAL UPDATE:’
 http://tinyurl.com/5pqrw — goes to HRC’s website
 http://tinyurl.com/4zmta — goes to the Chicago Tribune’s site
I am justly chastised. What I mean is “how can the people in those states *who have opposed this statement of equal rights* look themselves in the mirror”.
Sorry if I went off. Apparently I feel as strongly about equal rights as you do. 🙂
And you kicked down the better references too! 😉
I’d be for an amendment that gave women MORE rights then men. If you look at the statistics, we commit more than 90% of all violent crime. I think we should be kept in pens as sex slaves or something…
Maybe I shouldn’t have said that last part out loud.
Couldn’t section 1 be seen as an avenue to guarantee the right to a same-sex marriage? If a man can marry a woman, it could be put forward that not granting a woman that same right as a man (in this case, to marry a woman) would be in violation of the first section.
You know me, and know that I’d be happy for it to pass, and if in passing it protected gay marriage, but in the interests of devil’s advocacy it’s a good point to bring up.
I’m an Australian, so I definitely may be simply misunderstanding this. But what I wonder is: Could the reason the states aren’t supporting this be Clause 2? (The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.).
In Australia the Federal (National) government tries to pass anything it can to gain as much power as it can over the State governments. The states do everything they can to avoid this, as over time they have the power to make less and less decisions. My understanding is that this bill would give power to the National Congress to tell the states what to do, right? So maybe this bill isn’t about sexism so much as it is about state level politics?
Granted if you want rights to be universal and strongly protected they’re best made national, so it’s not really an excuse. But it would make it less of a dastardly act.
If I’m simply fundamentally misunderstanding the nature of the US political system I apologise.
States rights? Gays right to marriage? Jeez. Could these be, as people suggest, the stumbling blocks to passing the ERA? I have no idea, but if so, the world gets crazier all the time.
Thanks for starting the discussion Dinah, and it’s good to find yr blog.