Archive for September, 2010
On Women’s Equality Day, on August 26, 2010, women and men stood together in support of equal rights for all people and in support of the Equal Rights Amendment (E.R.A.) in front of the White House. Women were remembering obtaining the 90th anniversary of getting the right to vote, but activists expect more than that. They stated that they expect full Constitutional Equality for women, without question, as a national declaration.
The rights activists and concerned citizens stated that they believe they women deserve more than one day for “women’s equality,” but that Women’s Equality Day should be every day. Women spoke about their lives and struggles to gain equality and equal respect with men, and they stated that the Equal Rights Amendment would provide the legal framework to ensure that women are never considered “second class citizens.”
The public rally was organized by United4Equality’s Carolyn Cook, and included speakers from a broad range of areas.
Among the speakers represented were:
– National Women’s History Museum – Senior Vice President, Ann Stone
– Sewall Belmont House & Museum – Lead Docent, Erin Dexter
– Business & Professional Women USA – Immediate Past President and Bowie Councilwoman, Honorable Diane Polangin
– Coalition of Labor Union Women – Executive Director, Carol Rosenblatt
– United For Equality LLC’s Carolyn Cook
– Mike Hersh
– Jeffrey Imm, Responsible For Equality & Liberty
– Open Mike for Women on their views about Women’s Rights in America Today
– in addition, Shar from New Jersey sang the audience a song about the women’s rights activists and how they never gave up
Carolyn Cook spoke on the role of the United4Equality in seeking legislative and public support for the Equal Rights Amendment, including continuing to support the “3 state strategy” to finish the efforts to ratify the amendment. Carolyn spoke of her efforts to seek American state and federal government agencies to ratify the ERA by 2015.
We will be updating this posting with additional video and audio from the event.
The event began at approximately 7 PM and lasted until 9 PM.
At 8:30 PM, participants began holding candles to “light up the night” to remember those who have struggled over the years in support of women’s equal rights, and to send a signal to Americans that we will continue the fight for women’s equality!
Women Light Up the Night On Women’s Equality Day for the ERA
Monroe/West Monroe BPW and North Louisiana AAUW “Lit Up the Sky” on Women’s Equality Day, August 26, 2010. The Chennault Aviation and Military Museum in Monroe, Louisiana was the setting when many women from the community, and BPW and AAUW members gathered to celebrate 90 years of the passing of the 19th Amendment which gave women the right to vote.
Janis Guyton, President of Monroe/West Monroe BPW, welcomed the attendees. Angie Jackson-Wilson, Treasurer of BPW/LA, brought greetings and encouragement for the passage of the ERA from the state BPW Federation. Camille Moran, Lobbying Director for United for Equality and the Louisiana Coalition for the ERA stated, “Everything that we can do to secure passage of the ERA in Louisiana will be done! We want to be one of the three states to get this legislation passed!”
North Louisiana AAUW Vice-President Janet Guyden supported the strides women have made in the last 90 years, but also emphasized the need to continue the fight for the ERA. Guyden stated that the AAUW goals of equality and education go back over 100 years and will continue until this amendment is passed.
Judy Wilson, Public Relations Chair for BPW/LA and the Louisiana Coalition for the ERA, gave a presentation entitled, “90 Years to Celebrate, But Still Working for Equality.” Wilson emphasized the 72 years it took to get the 19th Amendment passed and the difficulty women like Carrie Chapman Catt, Alice Paul, Lucy Burns, and many others had in doing so. She exclaimed, “Jail, torture, protests, beatings, and starvation didn’t stop these women. Why do we, in 2010, want to stop now in our fight for Equal Rights?”
When Alice Paul authored the Equal Rights Amendment in 1923, little did she know that she would not live to see its passage, as the fight continues today! With the passage of the amendment needed in only 3 more states, the ERA would become a reality for the women of our country. The goal is to have this passed by 2015. “Louisiana citizens will continue to go to our statehouse in Baton Rouge and strive for passage of what will be the 28th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States,” Wilson concluded.
With musical selections by the Southern Accent Show Chorus, the program concluded with a candle-lighting ceremony and moment of silence.
Thank you, United for Equality, for selecting Monroe/West Monroe Business and Professional Women to represent the women of Louisiana on this important celebration of Women’s Equality Day 2010. Thank you AAUW for joining with BPW to support the women’s issues we care about. Both of our organizations will continue to strive for the ratification of the ERA and will support United for Equality’s efforts in getting the ERA passed!
A Washington, D.C., group campaigning for the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) hopes to pressure North Carolina into action by persuading potential visitors, business or personal, not to come to the state or to buy North Carolina goods until the state ratifies the amendment, which would prohibit discrimination because of sex.
The group, United For Equality, which has a Facebook page, plans to target North Carolina because it was late North Carolina Sen. Sam Ervin who helped to engineer a deadline for the ERA’s ratification. In 1982, he also worked in the state Senate to ensure that the ERA, which had already passed in the House, was shelved.
Simultaneously, United For Equality, a grassroots organization, is working to have the deadline removed from the Congressional bill that imposed the ratification deadline. The deadline is not part of the amendment and since the 1990s, questions have arisen about its legality.
The group launched its campaign at a rally in front of the White House on Women’s Equality Day last Thursday, August 26, which was the 90th anniversary of the day that women of the United States won the vote after a campaign of 72 years.
North Carolina is one of 15 states that have not passed the ERA, which was first introduced into Congress in 1923. The other states are Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Arizona, Utah, Nevada and Illinois.
When you’re competing against the clock for the grand prize, you may not win, but at least you’re entitled to your previous winnings.
Not so with the Equal Rights Amendment. Congress gave women the nod they were due, but their blessing came with a seven-year hitch. Constitutional equality was an all-or-nothing proposition to be achieved within seven years. Considering it took 72 years to obtain a right to vote, a time limit for all other rights was doomed to fail.
ERA was first introduced in 1923 by Alice Paul, a Republican, lawyer and courageous suffragist – who was imprisoned, tortured and force-fed to obtain the vote for women. ERA was essential to acquire all other legal, economic, social and political privileges that were customarily the birthright of men only.
“Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.”
Forty-seven years of stagnation prompted 20 courageous Pittsburgh NOW members to disrupt a Senate hearing with homemade signs demanding immediate action on ERA. Civil disobedience could have led to their arrest but ultimately freed ERA from congressional stalemate by an overwhelming majority in 1972.
ERA attracted over 450 organizations. People from all walks of life lobbied, petitioned, raced, marched, rallied, picketed and boycotted for its passage. It was favored by a majority of Americans, scoring an impressive 67 percent in a nationwide survey. Women’s groups pressed for an extension but were granted only three more years. Despite 35 states approving ERA, it fell three states short of becoming the 27th Amendment. On June 30, 1982, the campaign launched by Congress was ended by Congress.
Does a human’s right to equality expire?
My friend’s husband told me he supports ERA as long as he doesn’t lose his “perks.” ERA doesn’t apply to the private lives of individuals or business. ERA would eliminate sex discriminatory laws while expanding beneficial laws to both sexes equally. It guarantees that the full range of opportunities exist for all individuals based on their talents, capabilities and preferences, and not limited by gender or stereotype. ERA would ensure that sex discrimination is guaranteed the same protection as race discrimination. It expands individual freedom by limiting government interference.
Will women earn equal pay for equal work? Will public policies provide greater flexibility for parents struggling to balance work and family? Will government be held accountable to eliminate sex-based hate crimes such as rape and domestic violence? At what point will the FCC and FTC determine that violent, hate-filled images and lyrics directed at women and girls crosses the line of entertainment and free speech to jeopardize peace and security? ERA is the foundation to begin to address these questions.
In exile for 27 years, ERA is finally making a comeback. Congress needs to listen. Citizens did not abandon ERA in 1982 – you suspended our campaign. In case you’re unaware, women are working 24/7 both inside and outside the home. We are making daily sacrifices for our country, our families, our education, our careers, and our communities. We simply don’t have the freedom to organize in our own interests. We’re too busy caring for everyone else’s.
In 2009, Illinois, Arkansas, Missouri, Florida and Louisiana reintroduced the federal ERA. All five attempts were defeated. How can a handful of legislators control the interests of 157 million women? Behind closed doors with no media attention.
Article 5 of the Constitution grants Congress the power to amend the ratification process. Will Congress hit the reset button on ERA and require all 38 states again or use its powers to jump start the ratification process by removing the time limit for the final three states to continue?
With an economy struggling to get back on track – beginning a nationwide ERA campaign requiring 38 states is both unrealistic and unnecessary. Give women a head start and a fighting chance by accepting the 35 states that have already approved ERA, remove the time limit and allow us to target the three last states necessary to take that victory lap in 2015. Ready. Get Set. Game On!
Carolyn Cook is the founder of United For Equality, LLC and the DC representative for the ERA Campaign Network.
By Melissa MacCrae
Women in Maine and beyond are right to celebrate our foremothers’ arduous 75-year-long effort to win the basic tool of democracy that had been denied them because of their sex. And we should remember the early suffragists, including Susan B. Anthony, who rallied women at Harmony Hall in Hampden on Sept. 28, 1898, but who died before they could taste the fruit of their labor.
A leader among the second wave of suffragists, Alice Paul was raised a Quaker and believed in the equal rights of women and men. But the lifelong suffragist knew the historic 19th Amendment, which enfranchised half the nation’s adults, would fall short of its intended goal. The document that declared Votes for Women said nothing about equal rights for all in church, in college, in the workplace or even in their paychecks.
Undaunted, Paul in 1921 wrote an Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It reads, “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of sex.” This amendment was first introduced in Congress in 1923 and in every Congress thereafter, except the most recent session.
Though it finally passed Congress in 1972, it was ratified by only 35 of the requisite 38 states by the July 1982 deadline, leaving unfinished business for the Constitution.
How could this be? American women already enjoy equal rights, don’t they? Hillary Clinton and Maine’s own Margaret Chase Smith ran for president, three women are serving as Supreme Court justices, women have made gains in the military, on Navy submarines, and even in space.
Roberta W. Francis, co-chair, ERA Task Force, National Council of Women’s Organizations, wrote, “The Equal Rights Amendment is needed to affirm constitutionally that the bedrock principles of our democracy — ‘all men are created equal,’ ‘liberty and justice for all,’ ‘equal justice under law,’ ‘government of the people, by the people, and for the people’ — apply equally to women.”
Enter Carolyn Cook of Washington, D.C. She is among this generation’s leaders who are stoking the ERA flame. She leads United4Equality LLC, the social justice enterprise dedicated to ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment by 2015 and supports other social justice issues for women.
Cook has invested three years in designing a new strategy to ratify the ERA. She lobbied Congress and secured a House sponsor to introduce a proposed bill for the ERA. She also has big plans for this Women’s Equality Day in the nation’s capital.
Francis of the ERA Task Force found in an online poll “Seventy-two percent of respondents assume that the Constitution already includes such a guarantee [of equal rights]. It is clear that the citizens of the United States overwhelmingly support a constitutional guarantee of equal rights on the basis of sex, and ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment will achieve that goal.”
What will you do for American women’s equality? To learn more and get involved, visit http://www.equalrightsamendment.org/era.htm; rent the HBO film “Iron Jawed Angels,” and host an event. Teach this forgotten piece of American history in your college or high school courses, join forces with Carolyn Cook’s United4Equality by e-mail at info@United4Equality.com, and read her compelling article, “Say ‘I Do’: Constitutional Equality is Forever,” in the summer edition of On the Issues magazine at http://ontheissuesmagazine.com/2010summer/2010summer_cook.php.
Melissa MacCrae works as a Bangor Daily News copy editor and is author of “It Takes a Woman: Women Shaping Pubic Policy.” She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.