Will America Kill the Equal Rights Amendment?

By: Barbara Hannah Grufferman
Writer and speaker on women’s issues, author, “The Best of Everything After 50”

Share this story: CrossPosted from Huffington Post

I wrote an article last week — “From Hope to History: It’s Time to Pass the Equal Rights Amendment” — that generated hundreds of comments and thousands of shares. Why? Many readers were dismayed and confused to learn that this simply worded sentence is still not in the U.S. Constitution, even after 88 years:

Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.

Readers who believed the Equal Rights Amendment had already passed through Congress to become the 28th Amendment to the Constitution years ago were shocked. The amendment, first written in 1923 by Alice Paul, was, in fact, approved by Congress and sent to the states in 1972 with a ten-year deadline for ratification, but by 1982, supporters had managed to sign on only 35 of the 38 states needed to add the amendment to the Constitution.

Some who are not in favor of the Equal Rights Amendment claim it is redundant and unnecessary, often citing the 14th Amendment, which they say already protects the rights of women. It does not. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia publicly stated that the 14th Amendment was never intended to protect women. It was only intended to protect race. Federal and state law cannot protect citizens who are not protected under the Constitution. He made this remark in January 2011:

Certainly the Constitution does not require discrimination on the basis of sex. The only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn’t.

Sensing that people are as confused about the issue as I am, but just as eager to turn the promise of the Equal Rights Amendment into a reality, I interviewed key thought leaders who are directly involved in efforts to get the Equal Rights Amendment passed.

Why do we need the Equal Rights Amendment?

Laws can be repealed. Judicial attitudes can shift. We continue to see demonstrable cases of systemic gender discrimination — even in this day and age when women have come so far. Establishing the clear unambiguous language of the Equal Rights Amendment into the U.S. Constitution would have a real impact on our national consciousness. Our democracy rests on the principle of ‘liberty and justice for all.’ We need the ERA to ensure that this concept applies equal to women.

— Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), who reintroduced the Equal Rights Amendment on June 22nd, 2011.

Women in the armed services are fighting on the front lines in two wars to protect and defend a constitution that does not protect and defend them. The U.S. strongly urged Iraq and Afghanistan to include women in their new constitutions as they rebuild their societies; yet we have not led by example.

— Carolyn A. Cook, founder and CEO of United 4 Equality, and author of the HJ Res. 47 resolution, which calls for Congress to officially remove the time limit for ratification of the ERA.

First, a movement has to move and the women’s movement will only grow and thrive if it keeps on pushing for policies such as the ERA — which is nothing more than the American value of fairness and equality under the law. Second, because even though it hasn’t passed yet, every time we have made it an issue, women have advanced in myriad ways. And third, we must pass it because it is the right thing to do. No cause is lost when it is the right thing to do.

— Gloria Feldt, activist, and author of No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power.

What are the options for getting the Equal Rights Amendment passed once and for all?

There are two strategies that are currently being pursued by those who support the Equal Rights Amendment:

Rep. Carolyn Maloney explained it this way:

I have introduced the full ‘start-over’ ERA in each Congress since I arrived because the rights of women deserve to be constitutional. This Congress, I introduced H.J.RES 69 with over 155 original cosponsors. This would re-set the ratification count at zero and start the ratification process over again. In addition to the ‘start-over’ strategy, there is the ‘three-state’ strategy, which would put the ERA in our Constitution when an additional three states ratify, which, when added to the original 35 states, add up to the necessary 38 ratifications. However, some Constitutional scholars believe that this approach would violate the Constitution and would likely be subject to a challenge which would likely win in court and invalidate the entire ratification. Nevertheless, I support both strategies and believe in doing anything that will increase the chances that the ERA will be included in the Constitution.

To address the issues inherent in the “three state strategy,” Carolyn A. Cook spearheaded a resolution which she authored (HJ Res. 47) urging Congress to remove the time limit for ratification in the final three states needed. According to Carolyn,

It is a far more efficient, fair and likely-to-succeed approach than hitting the reset button on ERA. I drafted the proposal, recruited some passionate ERA advocates from unratified states to help, and together we introduced this bill on March 8th to mark the 100th anniversary of Women’s Equality Day. This day serves as a reminder that the U.S. cannot curb the human rights abuses of women and girls worldwide while denying them constitutional equality at home. 

Mike Hersh, on staff at the Progressive Democrats of America, succinctly summed up why we need to pursue the “three state strategy” instead of starting over:

Starting over requires a 2/3 vote in favor from both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, which we can’t expect until 2013 at the earliest. For reference, this has been tried in every Congress for many years, and has never passed, even when Nancy Pelosi was the Speaker and Democrats had huge majorities in both the House and Senate. Once we get the ERA out of Congress again, we’d have to start over from zero and get 38 states to ratify the amendment. Fewer than half that many are likely to do so in the foreseeable future. So starting over would almost definitely take several decades.

What can we do to ensure that America does not kill the Equal Rights Amendment?

Complacency will kill the Equal Rights Amendment, and we need to change the tone of the discourse. Let’s stop thinking about it in terms of us against them, left vs. right, conservative vs. liberal, men vs. women. Reframe the issue of the Equal Rights Amendment and ask yourself this question:

Is it the right thing to do?

Can a country that prides itself as the leader and protector of democracy in the world, and one which implores other countries to include the word “women” in their constitutions (Afghanistan and Iraq), still not protect the rights of women in its own?

If you believe the Equal Rights Amendment should be in our U.S. Constitution, here’s what you can do:

Share this article.

Read up on both strategies (starting over and the three-state solution) to better understand why the three-state solution is probably the stronger option, and get behind it.

Contact your local government representative and urge them to co-sponsor “HJ Res 47: Removing the Deadline for Ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.”

Visit United4Equality.com and “friend” them on Facebook to get more information on how you can help push through the HJ Res. 47. … and start volunteering

Go to Facebook pages such as ERA Now, ERA Once and For All, and Equal Rights Amendment to get up-to-date information.

If you believe in the Equal Rights Amendment, then get behind it, and get it done.

ERA Revival: United 4 Equality in Action

BettyJean Downing Kling

United 4 Equality http://www.united4equality.com/ is teaming up to do Lobby Days this Wednesday and Thursday on Capitol Hill to secure a Senate sponsor for a companion bill to HJ Res 47. Thursday, June 30th is the 29th anniversary of ERA’s “expiration”, so what better way to mark its revival!  I am hoping each of you will gather your friends and family and using the calling script provided to call your senators (1st) and representatives (2nd) and join in the fun!   

BE VERY CLEAR THAT YOU ARE CALLING ABOUT ERA: REMOVING THE TIME LIMIT FOR 3 STATES AND NOT FOR THE ERA “START-ALL-OVER” amendment! There seems to be confusion among members of Congress that these are two separate bills.  HJ Res. 47 calls for the time limit removal so we can ratify the ERA now – not 100 years from now.

Please contact me for House and Senate Calling Scripts and please sign our petition: 

1. The ACTION ALERT to be used this week to join our NATIONAL CALLING or FAXING PARTY (SENATE) – (Send out a.s.a.p.)

2. NAT’L CALL IN SCRIPT FOR HOUSE – Although they are not in session, staff should be there, so they might pick up the phone since it’s quiet. 

3  PETITION LINK   www.change.org/petitions/equality-for-women.

IMPORTANT: If you head up an organization, please identify yourself as a member of the United 4 Equality Coalition when you are calling Congress. Congress must see there is significant on-the-ground support for ERA/HJ Res. 47 in their state.  Please track the calls/emails/or faxes made to Congress this week.  Email the staffer’s name and title to  info@united4equality.com with the result of your call.  Did they agree to co-sponsor YES – NO-MAYBE?  This will enable us to follow-up afterwards with more information.

Once you’ve called your senators, please use the alternate script for the House.  These congresspersons already signed-on to Maloney’s bill by states where we have coordinators.  If you target them since they already support ERA, they should have no problem supporting our resolution as well.  Maloney is a co-sponsor.

  • LA: Cedric Richmond  
  • AZ: Pastor and Grijalva
  • WI: Kind
  • FL: Brown, Castor
  • IL: Biggert, Holt, Quigley, Davis, Schakowsky, Costello,
  • MD: Sarbanes, Ruppersburger, Cummings
  • MO: Clay
  • MI: Levin, Kildee, Conyers, Peters, Clarke, Dingell
  • MN: McCollum
  • NC: Watt, Butterfield, Price, Miller
  • NJ: Pallone, Pascrell, Rothman, Payne, Holt,
  • PA: Schwartz ,Fattah, Brady, Doyle, Holden

It is very important that we have all hands on deck.  Reach out to your friends, ERA advocacy groups and family far and wide!  Come on, let’s do this for Alice Paul. Our best chance to pass “47” is in the Senate this year!  The 2012 elections are right around the corner, so we need to strike while the iron is hot and give Congress something to campaign on…!

Have a great week all!  Thank you so much for your support and efforts – we are going to get this!  Let me know if you have any questions.

I am Woman Hear me Roar


Dedicated to the Jackasses who insist I hate Hillary and Men I’m just asking for a little R E S P E C T for all women

By BettyJean Kling


Women have always been so misunderstood. The minute we try to get some respect we are immediately shut down. Today I got a comment to one of my posts entitled reply “anti-male sexist much?”


I love my 2 sons and my 6 grandsons and my sons-in law (well 2 of them anyway) and I cry for my son Mikie daily who passed 8 years ago. No I do not hate men – I although I am not liking Mr. Anonymous who didn’t even have the balls to sign his name.

Anonymous said…

Geesh!! Anti-male sexist much?

That this long after your so-called candidate (presuming we’re still talking Clinton and not Palin) lost, and lost BIG in the primary you are still whining, wringing your hands and moaning hugely betrays your feelings of female privilege.


Clinton LOST LOST LOST by all rules agreed to by all parties before the contest ever began to the better candidate. Just because she has an “innie” instead of an “outie” does not qualify her to be selected over the one rightfully elected.


This election WAS historic. For the record, it also would have been historic, although tragic had it been won by Clinton or McCain (due to Palin).


If you honestly believe women are so “oppressed,” you need to read some unbiased authors like Hoff-Sommers or Farrell.


·          Battered women have advocates and shelters in every large US city. Battered men have one shelter in California and one help line in Maine.

·          Women in divorce get custody almost 100% of the time they ask for it. Men get to “visit” their children and pay backdoor alimony aka child support.

·          The second a man is (falsely or not) accused of rape, his name is plastered throughout the media. Should the allegation prove false, she is almost never publicly identified.

·          Women criminals who murder their children get counseling and probation. Men criminals who murder their children get prison or death.

·          Women homeless get shelters and vouchers. Men homeless get a newspaper and an underpass.

·          Girls who get statutorially raped by men get a “victim” label and their abuser prosecuted. Boys who get staturorially raped by women get a “lucky #$#$” label and their abuser returned to their community.

·          Men make up 99% of on-the-job fatalities — to pay money to court, and sometimes directly to, women who work comfy inside jobs or often not at all.

·          In a committed relationship, women get the choice to work full time, work part time or stay at home. Men get the non-choice: work full time.

·          It is recognized as racism that blacks die years younger than whites but not as sexism that men die years younger than women.


It just goes on and on, once you open your eyes to it. By refusing to acknowledge it, you only perpetuate it. November 12, 2008 7:01 AM  

And this jackass has the nerve to ask me if I am “anti-male sexist much?” Yikes – he answered this post with this canned speech before the pressed were even cold I can tell he is a card carrying “anti-female sexist much!”

Why is it always about everyone but us – why are we always last? I like to say I was born a feminist because from my earliest memory – I always knew I was treated differently and I did not like it.  I always asked why? And the answer was always the same. “Because you are a girl.”  My reply was also always the same- So what?

I have been married a few times – I’m not real good at it- they always say they are going to understand my 100% concept but they never do – so I keep my end of the bargain and when they break the contract – I’m outta there!

You know if couple each gave 100% – doing for one another would be great then whatever we did would never seem menial but done of love and concern – but when what we do for the other is demanded – expected and disrespected or taken for granted – and we are mistreated because of our choices – it becomes a problem.

I chose to keep all my children and to stay home and raise them- I chose to put my education on the back burner – I chose to do traditional things while my friends became professionals early on in life. I say chose to put my life on hold but truth be told I had 4 kids and a divorce by 19, I started so damned early I missed the sixties altogether and I’m  running around doing all those things – less the drugs  so far- in my sixties instead.

Today my sisterhood and I – we all stand together equal in strength and character and value as we should. Some conservative- some liberal and some independent. Some married- some divorced – some never married and some gay. Some with children and some childless. I finally caught up with these women thanks to Hillary and for that I will forever be grateful to the 60 year old who pulled us all together and reminded us what we started fighting for in the sixties and never got and why we need to start the women’s movement again.

Can you hear me now?