Petition the White House to Help Ratify the ERA!!

512px-Alice_paulThe First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right of the people to petition the government for a redress of grievances. If you think that after 225 years the Constitution still does not guarantee women equal rights with men is a grievance in need of redressing, then you can do something about it with a click.

The Equal Rights Amendment? Are we still talking about that? Don’t we already have it?

Though most people think women are already equal in the U.S. Constitution, they’re wrong. The only constitutional right specifically guaranteed to women on an equal basis with men is the right to vote, affirmed by the 19th Amendment in 1920 after an arduous 72-year political struggle.

The campaign for the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) has been even longer and at least as grueling.

Written in 1923 by suffrage leader Alice Paul, the ERA was introduced into every session of congress until it passed in 1972 and went to the states for ratification. Paul died in 1977, months after the amendment got its 35th state ratification–three short of the necessary 38. Well-funded conservative anti-ERA forces stopped the drive in its tracks before the clock ran out on a 1982 ratification deadline. Some main objections? We might have unisex toilets! Women could be drafted!

Now that people are used to unisex airline toilets and combat jobs are at last open to women, why bother with an ERA? Let us count the ways: The pay gap between women and men remains at 78 cents on the dollar, women can be charged more for all kinds of insurance coverage (though the Affordable Care Act puts an end to that practice in health insurance), and those same women who will be leading the charge in combat still can’t get full reproductive health care while in the military.

But the main reason we still need an ERA is that none of the rights women have–except the right to vote–are enshrined in the constitution. That recently acquired right to serve in combat and therefore have a shot at the highest military jobs is just a rule that can easily be changed again.

And all the other rights women have under the law are merely statutory. That means there’s no guarantee that we can’t lose the right to equal credit, equal shots at jobs and promotions, protection from being fired for being pregnant and equal access to school and university programs including sports, law and medicine. All of these forms of discrimination were once legal, and are now outlawed by statutes–laws that can be overturned by hostile legislators.

But they wouldn’t do that, would they? Need I point out the current push to deny birth control under the Affordable Care Act?

Lack of an Equal Rights Amendment has already hurt generations of women. Luanne Smith of Burke, Va., who retired as a Commander from the U.S. Navy in 1995 after a 21-year career, believes that the country’s failure to add the ERA to the constitution is the reason she never achieved one of her most desired goals–assignment to a sea-going ship. So Luanne set up the Facebook group ERA Now and joined forces with Tammy Simkins of Chillicothe, Oh., to lead the ERA White House petition drive, posted on the White House We the People website on January 11 (Alice Paul’s birthday). Even though the administration upped the required number of signatures for action to 100,000 on January 17th, theirs was “grandmothered in” at 25,000. If that goal is reached by the midnight February 9 deadline, the White House will issue an official response.

Not sure about signing on to something that’s undoubtedly full of legalese and probably impossible to understand? Here’s the ERA in it’s entirety:

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

Petitioning the government is easy these days–all it takes is a click. Sign the petition urging the Obama Administration to “vigorously support women’s rights by fully engaging in efforts to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA).”

And pass on the request–your future rights may depend on it.

Crossposted from the Huffington Post

Photo of Alice Paul in 1920 from Wikimedia Commons

Comments

  1. Gail Mountain says:

    The time is NOW.

  2. Andrea Grater says:

    way over due. Time to pass this.

  3. Deanna Woodruff says:

    If its not any clearer than today with the current GOP attacks on Women’s Rights I don’t know when women will wake up and realize what they actually have to lose without the ERA.

  4. 1) Merely Statutory—it’s not like gender right’s are more or less enshrined than those protecting against racial discrimination. The Equal Protection clause does not mention race. We should amend that as well? I dont see why the current Equal Protection Clause is inadequate. As far as pay gap, has there been cases challenging this under Equal Protection. Please cite if there are.

    2) Why is Equal Protection Clause inadequate if that Clause has been used to cut down gender discrimination and actually does not specifically reference race, gender, or any individualized group? If it isn’t, I would say we need a push to amend constitution to protect against race discrimination, sexual orientation discrimnation, and all groups that need protection.

    3) ERA–I think an Equal Rights Amendment too could “backfire” in certain respects (again, i think current Equal Protection is adequate). With the proposed amendment would maternity without paternity leave be unconstitutional? Would this further drive affirmative action programs that benefit women (who make up majority of college students) now completely unconstitutional? Affirmative action to benefit women, the majority of students, would have to be unconstituional right? Could State laws saying in child custody cases, there is a presumption that mother gets custody be unconstitutional? Draft of men only? Unconstitutional.

    4) Finally, as far as just looking at the text of the proposed amendment vs. the rights specified in the article, I don’t necessarily see how some aspects are relevant. It seems that some examples are clearly eqality issues (pay, credit, access to univesities) but you’re reference to denying birth control coverage is confusing. Would a clause that merely demands equality someone require affirmative acts such as birth control? In theory, would then condoms be under health care as well? It seems just from reading that a clause as proposed would hopefully be used to get substantive rights not at all referenced in the text nor really relevant to “equality” as i think most people understand that word.

    Applaud the case, but none of the rights you reference are currently in the Consitution in any regard. Thus, an amendment just aimed at gender equality would deny individuals protections based on race, sexual orientation, ethnicity, etc. Right?

    • Thinking Liberal says:

      @Fran — Concerning your comment about the ERA ‘backfiring’:

      “With the proposed amendment would maternity without paternity leave be unconstitutional? Would this further drive affirmative action programs that benefit women (who make up majority of college students) now completely unconstitutional? Affirmative action to benefit women, the majority of students, would have to be unconstituional right? Could State laws saying in child custody cases, there is a presumption that mother gets custody be unconstitutional? Draft of men only? Unconstitutional.”

      If men and women were equal under the constitution, these things would be unconstitutional. These are not unwanted side effects, they are direct results of the ERA.

      On another note, the ERA should, in fact, make reference to race, sexual orientation, etc.

  5. Nancy Reese says:

    I marched for the ERA in the ’70s. And while we didn’t succeed then, I never gave up the hope that we would one day pass it. It is even more important for me today…for my daughter and granddaughter.

    You can still be a part of this movement by signing the petition. You have until midnight 2/9/13. It’s just the beginning, but together we can bring this to fruition!

  6. the common GOP argument is that the ERA will produce more law suits and we already have too many. ERA might produce law suits and may be there will be some lucky female winners but arguing women should not have access to equal rights guaranteed by the constitution is cynical.

  7. Katina Lennie says:

    The only way us women are ever going to have equal rights is when men find that planet they are looking for so they can inhabit and leave us women on this one. Then we will be eqaul, we have a lot of work to do rectifying our planet.
    :-D sounds like a plan.

  8. Jil Clark says:

    How significant that we couldn’t pass a the ERA 30 years ago — a simple sentence stating that women and men have the same rights, are equal as citizens of the United States. The state’s failure to confirm that right told the whole story … and we are still living that damn story. Pass the ERA! It’s long past time, guys!

  9. Signed it.

  10. Marena Groll says:

    Very proud of my hometown newspaper blogging about the petition!

    http://blogs.fayobserver.com/smith/February-2013/Remember-the-ERA–Then-pass-it

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