Sign Our Petition in Support of an Equal Rights Amendment for American Women

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Such a simple, straightforward statement: Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” If race, were substituted for ‘sex’, meaning gender — presumably a human being deemed to be female — most Americans would think twice about refusing to support this amendment. 

Surveys suggest that the vast majority of Americans aren’t refusing to accept the ERA — no matter what right-wing zealots tell us. If reality, most United States citizens believe that women do have equal protection under the law. Boy are they wrong!!! Not only do women NOT have equal protection under the law, but Republicans in Congress are hell-bent on turning back the rights that women have won in the last 40 years.

“Don’t worry,” you say, ” the Supreme Court has already given American women their rights. They can’t be reversed.” Wrong there, too. And several prominent conservative justices remind us that American women have NO rights under the Constitution. Zippo! We were right there with the slaves and American Indians. Kaput on the subject of Constitutional rights! I’ll walk you through that horrifying news in a few. 

Anne of Carversville will be covering the Equal Rights Amendment that American women don’t have all week. Why? Because given all the complexities of the Republican War on Women, there is no longer any doubt in the minds of the vast majority of Americans that Republicans intend to send us packing back where we belong. That would be on the original homestead and not hard at work.

Ludicrous, you say? Yes, well it was pretty ludicrous that 10 Republican women launched a bill to make it a felony for a 15 year-old victim of incest who was impregnated by her father to get a legal abortion last week. They weren’t crying foul on the abortion, which remains legal in New Mexico. No, no. The daughter would be destroying evidence needed for the prosecution — even though the vast majority of rapists and perpetrators of incest never see a courtroom. 

Time for ERA Action

It’s time to take a stand for the Equal Rights Amendment, and I’m asking you gals and guys to hustle your beautiful, socially-conscious derrieres over to this White House petition and sign it. The petition reads:

Vigorously support women’s rights by fully engaging in efforts to ratify the 1972 Equal Rights Amendment (ERA)

There are currently 35 states that have ratified the ERA and legal analysis suggests we may need just three more states for women to have equal rights under our Constitution. We ask you to support our efforts nationwide, particularly in the states that have not yet ratified the ERA: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, N. Carolina, Oklahoma, S. Carolina, Utah, and Virginia. We also ask you to place your full support behind Congressional legislation to eliminate deadlines on the original 1972 ERA. It is time our Constitution protects the rights of women, and women need and deserve active participation in ERA advocacy from the White House.

I spent about eight hours this weekend, reading legal opinions about the ERA. We’ll address all the issues in the coming days. There is no doubt that if just three more states pass the ERA, there is a VERY STRONG CASE for VICTORY! Will it go all the way to the Supreme Court? Yes. But major legal precedents say that the ERA will hold — no matter what right winger Phyllis Schlafly tells you. When you hear her talk below to the Arkansas state elected officials charged with moving the amendment forward in the state legislature, you will be astounded that this speech turned what was perceived to be a positive ERA tide in Arkansas against ratification.

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History of the ERA

When the Equal Rights Amendment was approved by the House and Senate and sent to the states for ratification in March 1972, few doubted that it would remain unratified by 38 states in 2012. Almost at once, 30 state legislatures ratified the ERA amendment. 

In events that demonstrate the determined power of one woman in America, arch social conservative and epic feminist-hater Phyllis Schlafly hit the road, broadcasting the stern message that an Equal Rights Amendment would result in military conscription for 18-year-old girls, homosexual rights and — I am dead serious — co-ed bathrooms.

Having used co-ed bathrooms all over the world without seeing any men peeing in the urinal or their bare butts in plain sight, I found this argument of Schlafly’s to be the most demeaning to human intelligence of all. Seriously — America’s women don’t deserve the status of women in other countries because we would be forced to share bathrooms with men.

ERA Bathrooms, Republicans and Pornography

If you’ll forgive me for saying so, there is something really creepy about a mind that approaches women’s rights within this psychological framework of analysis, BUT it is a hallmark of social conservatives. I’m thinking of L Brent Bozell III, who spends his days examining photos for evidence of pubic hair, so he can call magazines pornographic and raise a big stink.

What adds insult to injury here is that — hands down — conservatives in red states buy more pornography, based on their IP addresses and credit card info. But ideology — not actions — means everything to conservatives who excel at putting up a pious front while shaking their fingers at the rest of us: “naughty, naughty”. 

Harvard’s Professor Edelman reported in his porn subscription survey that states that pass anti-gay legislation buy 11% more porn.

So put your wagging finger in your pocket, Mr. and Mrs. right-wing, anti-rights for women, haters of educated women, unionized women and god forbid — anyone who has a civil service job — and let’s talk turkey on women’s rights.

Only in America is education perceived to be a threat to the future security of the nation. 

America’s Alleged Christian Tradition of Chivalry

In announcing her opposition to the ERA decades ago, Schlafly argued that it would take away the “special protection” of the “Christian tradition of chivalry” offered to women. Say what??? Schlafly’s opposition to an Equal Rights Amendment is grounded in her beliefs that American women have the “right” to be “supported and protected” by men. You heard me right, guys. 

“Those women lawyers, women legislators, and women executives promoting E.R.A. have plenty of education and talent to get whatever they want in the business, political and academic world,” is how Phyllis Schlafly appealed to Ohio state legislators, who eventually ratified the ERA. “We, the wives and working women, need you, dear Senators and Representatives, to protect us.”

Now that was coy, Phyllis! You are such a coquette. 

My heart bleeds, Phyllis, except that the statistics paint a very different story of America today and back in the day when the ERA was sailing through one state legislature after another. Somehow, this time-honored, Christian tradition of male chivalry based on real-world performance wasn’t a core argument in the proceedings as to laws making it illegal for a woman to check into a hotel in Manhattan without a male guardian. 

In 2007, Phyllis Schlafly hit the road again, traveling to Arkansas where the legislature was poised to seriously consider passing the ERA, reducing to two the number needed for ratification. (Note that there are separate legal questions concerning the timetable for ratifying the ERA. I will deal with them in a separate article in the coming days.)

Listening to Schlafly’s key arguments against passage of the ERA, several of her points warrant comments within today’s world for women. Let’s hit the issues straight on. Schlafly argues as recently as 2007 in this video that she has yet to hear one benefit that comes to American women from the ERA. Let me give her one. 

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Phyllis Schlafly in Arkansas Feb. 7, 2007

Schlafly Anti-ERA Argument #1: Women and the Draft

Phyllis Schlafly has argued from the beginning that under an ERA, women would be subject to the draft and would serve in combat. Even prior to this week’s formal lifting of the ban on women in combat by outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, women have served in combat in both Iraq and Afghanistan. 

The historic change that has denied women service in combat “will open up hundreds of thousands of jobs in infantry, armor and other previously all-male units from which women have been formally barred under a 1994 Pentagon rule. Ultimately, they could even be allowed to serve in special-operations units, including the Army’s Delta Force and the Navy’s SEALs,” writes TIME.

Many women serving in America’s military complain that America’s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq essentially put them on the front lines, but without the combat credentials typically needed for promotions. Lower ranks mean lower wages and benefits, reinforcing pay disparity in America. 

A common argument against women in combat advanced by the right wing is that physical standards will suffer. Not true. Women will have to meet the same standards that the military sets for men. 

Any state legislature who invites Phyllis Schlafly to testify against the ERA had better question her in-depth the next time she says she can’t think of one benefit to an ERA. Military women who have had their limbs blown off without the benefits that come from officially serving in combat beg to disagree with her. 

Schlafly Anti-ERA Argument #2: The Constitution Is Gender Neutral

On this matter, Justice Scalia doesn’t agree with Mrs. Schlafly, who is in way over her head — even if she does have a law degree. Justice Scalia says Mrs. America is wrong when she says that women have every right that men have under the Constituion. Her good buddy Scalia has stated that women have NO rights under the US Constitution. The only rights that women have is the right to vote. And Justice Scalia argues that the 14th amendment’s equal protection under the law does not apply to women — even though it has been applied by the Court to numerous women’s rights cases. 

Can we please close down this Phyllis Schlafly core argument that the US Constitution is gender neutral? Only an ERA amendment will make it gender neutral. 

Fielding a question from California Lawyer magazine, Justice Scalia said: “You know, if indeed the current society has come to different views, that’s fine. You do not need the Constitution to reflect the wishes of the current society. Certainly, the Constitution does not require discrimination on the basis of sex. The only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn’t.”

The magazine headlined its interview with Scalia “The Originalist.” If society wants to ban sex discrimination, he said, “Hey, we have things called legislatures, and they enact things called laws. You don’t need a constitution to keep things up to date. All you need is a legislature and a ballot box… . That’s what democracy is all about. It’s not about nine superannuated judges who have been there too long, imposing their demands on society.”

Scalia had prefaced his answer, “Yes, yes, sorry to tell you that …” 

In a high court ruling 15 years ago, Scalia made his views known on gender discrimination. He was the only justice dissenting in an opinion halting the 157-year-old all-male tradition at Virginia Military Institute.

It’s very possible that the only protection standing between a Supreme Court that strips American women of all rights that have been won in the last 50 years and our right to even contraception is an Equal Rights Amendment. 

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Had Romney become president, rest assured that the Republican right wing would have tested this core argument against women’s rights pronto. 

Scalia: Women Have No Right to Privacy

Justice Scalia told Chris Wallace on FOX News in July 2012 that the Supreme Court was wrong in saying that women have any right to privacy, as stated by the Court in Griswold v Connecticut, which gave women a right to contraception. 

Phyllis Schlafly’s comments that the Constitution is gender neutral are wrong. And Scalia’s positions agree with earlier courts that ruled against women’s place in public life. The Oxford Guide to US Government writes:

Not until the 1970s did the Court extend to women the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of “equal protection of the laws.” One hundred years earlier, in Bradwell v. Illinois (1873), the Court had refused to use the equal protection clause to overturn a state government’s ruling denying a woman a license to practice law. The denial was based strictly on the person’s gender, but the Court ignored this flagrant violation of “equal protection of the laws.” Writing for the Court, Justice Joseph P. Bradley justified the decision in Bradwell with a paternalistic explanation: “The natural and proper timidity and delicacy which belongs to the female sex evidently unfits it for many of the occupations of civil life [such as being a lawyer]…. [T]he domestic sphere [is] that which properly belongs to the domain and functions of womanhood.”

The Court’s paternalism toward women reflected the general view of the public in the latter half of the 19th century. The late 19th-century Court also ruled that the 14th Amendment did not require state governments to permit women to vote (Minor v. Happersett, 1875) or to serve on juries (Strauder v. West Virginia, 1880). It took the 19th Amendment to the Constitution (1920) to overturn the Court’s decision against women’s voting rights. Not until 1975, in Taylor v. Louisiana, did the Court overturn Strauder and rule against state exclusion of women from jury duty.

Schlafly Anti-ERA Argument #3: ERA Attacts DOMA: Defense of Marriage Act

This is a true statement most probably, but now irrelevant on the subject of DOMA. Phyllis Schlafly and her right-wing zealots may have their skirts afire on this one, but the Obama Administration will not defend DOMA. Gay marriage is on the move. The Supreme Court will make two key rulings soon on gay marriage — although neither may be a definitive answer. 

Attacking all women’s rights because of DOMA implications was ALWAYS dead-wrong and discriminatory UNLESS you are really arguing that women’s place is in the home, which is where the right wing wants us. 

Schlafly Anti-ERA Argument #4: ERA Allows Unrestricted Abortion Funding on Demand

At a state level, we know that Schlafly’s arguments are false. 

Despite Pennsylvania’s state ERA, “the state Supreme Court decided that restrictions on Medicaid funding of abortions were constitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court in separate litigation (Planned Parenthood v. Casey, 1992) upheld Pennsylvania’s restrictions on the abortion procedure under the federal due process clause.”

No one seriously believes that the Hyde Amendment prohibiting federal funding of abortions would become illegal with passage of the ERA. It is trule that in the New Mexico case Schlafly refers to in the Arkansas testimony, the Court ruled that if the state provides funding to low-income women for childbirth expenses, it is also required to offer women abortion funding. Otherwise, the state is using fiscal pressure to dictate decisions about family planning and women’s health, and that is illegal in the playbooks of most American voters. Besides, I thought social conservatives detest social engineering by the government. 

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No Comment on Schlafly and Co-ed Bathrooms!

Schlafly Loves Todd Akin

Phyllis Schlafly is no advocate for women’s health. Schlafly’s Eagle Forum was a big supporter of Todd “legitimate rape” Akin, standing next to him when the Republican candidate for Senate said that he was staying in the race. Schlafly then led a “Women for Akin” bus tour. Notably, even the women of Missouri didn’t buy her arguments — so why the heck is she single-handedly derailing equal rights for half the population of America?

Schlafly is telling us that men have all this backbone to take care of us, but they seem to cave the minute she sweet talks her way into the hearing room. 

We end this first installment in our AOC overview of the Equal Rights Amendment with a plea to sign our petition for full support from the Obama Administration. There is no way that we will reach 25,000 signatures by Feb. 9 without your help. The petition was launched by some talented, passionate people without most of us even knowing about it. It doesn’t have a huge viral network behind it. Now we’re here to fight the good fight and to raise awareness — and your support is absolutely critical. 

Today we’ve had a good deal of traffic around the proposed abortion law that was introduced by 10 Republican women this week in New Mexico. For all practical purposes, they think like Phyllis Schlafly. Any group of women who would sponsor a bill making a legal abortion in the case of rape or incest a felony — for tampering with state evidence, meaning the fetus — is a chilling alarm bell for American women. This is just another of many onerous anti-women bills we’ve tracked since the Tea Party came to power in 2010. 

My earlier story about South Dakota seeking to make it legal for a man (or woman) to kill anyone including his wife aiding or abetting an abortion has shaken more than a few people up since Friday. The law was canned — as was the 2010 Utah bill that came within a hair’s breath of making miscarriage a felony in the state. 

If women want to get government out of our pants, action is required because the intention is to make women wards of the states. When it comes to our reproduction including contraception, men will be controlling it, and we WILL be having more babies as part of our civic duty. 

Mark my words. Republicans are rolling back equal pay laws at a state level — as women’s salaries plummet in Wisconsin. Republicans in Congress refuse to stand for equal pay for women. In the next two years we will have plenty of statistics to prove what happens when women lose rights to equal pay or promotions, but the downward spiral is already registering in surveys. 

I came across these good Christian men over the weekend. They are buddies of Phyllis Schlafly who has used their show for her soapbox. Here’s what Swanson and Buehner have to say about women like me. 

Christian Radio Hosts Kevin Swanson and Dave Buehner Call Feminists Family-Destroying Whores

Republican leaders like Reince Priebus make trivia of women’s rights — calling them “shiny objects” and distractions from issues that matter. I disagree. 

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Telling a 15-year-old girl that she must bear her father’s child and stop whining about it is demeaning to women’s very personhood. And now at age 18, she could be put in prison for three years in New Mexico for taking a legal morning after pill — except the bill is being reformulated based on the rage launched against the Republican Gang of 10 Women by writers like myself

Phyllis Schlafly can wax poetically about the chivalrous nature of men but victims of incest typically beg to disagree. You think incest is so rare in America? Stay tuned because we’ll hit that topic this week. 

One must ask ourselves how it is that a woman who argues that “America was founded by WASPs — White Anglo-Saxon Protestants with traditional American values” and not the valueless “non-whites, non-Christians, and non-marrieds” has become a mighty right-wing goddess holding back the most basic rights for American women in the 21st century. How is it that this woman’s values — so out of step with those of America’s majority of citizens of every color, creed, sexual persuasion and marital status — prevail on the topic of the ERA? 

This story will continue as we try to educate readers about why we MUST get behind renewed efforts for an ERA in America. This issue is about our daughters and granddaughters and the families they will create.

Unless you intend to throw a rope around the necks of American women, we want to work. We want to excel in many areas, including raising successful kids with our partners and mates. We are good citizens who know that America needs to produce educated, capable generations for the future. So stop talking to us like we’re total self-absorbed, femi-nazi dingbats.

We’re ALL good Americans, Mrs. Schlafly, not just members of your lily white, ultra social-conservative, Todd Akin-lovin’, Christian crowd. We acknowledge that the country has many challenges but your insistence that our problems are the fault of educated, professional women on both coasts is a bag of wind. 

Your free ride into state legislatures is over. The next time you enter a hearing room to testify about the ERA, you better bring your facts with you. Because we’ll be watching you and the state legislators who are evaluating the truth of your arguments. If you truly derailed the Arkansas ERA hearing with those four minutes above, well shame on us. It won’t happen again.

The Republican boys club may still support you in the remaining states. But let’s call their actions for what it is — a core belief that women belong at home, with men providing for them. An ERA loss in these states must be cast in ultra-conservative beliefs about women’s role in the world. 

As for my AOC readers, I implore you to sign this White House petition to show your support for an Equal Rights Amendment for American women. Canadian women have these protections. Why don’t we deserve them? ~ Anne


Sign ERA petition now.