E qual R ights A mendment

    February 13, 2020



    ‘The U.S. House has voted to remove the deadline on ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment in an attempt to revive the amendment. The 232-183 vote fell largely along party lines with five Republicans supporting the measure and zero Democrats opposing it.

    Changing the deadline is a key part of one route that some ERA proponents believe would lead to the amendment becoming a part of the Constitution, but the path forward is uncertain.

    The proposed amendment says simply, “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex,” and it has had a renaissance in recent years, with three states ratifying it since 2017.

    However, the bill may well be stymied after this vote.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said earlier this month that he’s “personally not a supporter” of the amendment, and the Trump administration’s Office of Legal Counsel has said that it considers the ERA “expired. 

    The amendment, proposed in 1972, originally had a ratification deadline of 1979 attached to it. Congress later bumped that out to 1982, but by then, only 35 states had ratified it. Thirty-eight states need to ratify in order for a proposal to become an amendment.

    Illinois and Nevada ratified the amendment in recent years, and in January, Virginia became the 38th state to ratify.

    [Passed by Congress June 4, 1919, and ratified on August 18, 1920, the 19th amendment granted women the right to vote.]

    “It’s not just about women; it’s about America,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. “The ERA will strengthen America, unleashing the full power of women in our economy and upholding the value of equality in our democracy.”

    Legal experts have argued that the amendment could protect women economically, like helping them get more equal pay and preventing pregnancy discrimination.’

    FX dropped the trailer for “Mrs. America,” its nine-episode limited series starring Cate Blanchett as Phyllis Schlafly. If you didn’t know that the real-life Schlafly didn’t support the women’s liberation movement, you certainly will after watching this.

    You can watch the two-minute, 16-second clip above and see just how deep Phyllis’ complex relationship with the attempts to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment goes.

    The show, one of the first “FX on Hulu” series, will launch its first three episodes Wednesday, April 15 on FX’s streaming hub on Hulu, with new episodes airing each subsequent week on the platform.

    Along with Blanchett, “Mrs. America” stars Rose Byrne as Gloria Steinem, Margo Martindale as Bella Abzug, Uzo Aduba as Shirley Chisholm, Elizabeth Banks as Jill Ruckelshaus and Tracey Ullman as Betty Friedan. Other cast members include Sarah Paulson, John Slattery, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Ari Graynor, Melanie Lynskey and Kayli Carter.

    Here’s the official description for the series:

    “Mrs. America” tells the story of the movement to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), and the unexpected backlash led by a conservative woman named Phyllis Schlafly, played by Blanchett. Through the eyes of the women of that era – both Schlafly and second wave feminists Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan, Shirley Chisholm, Bella Abzug and Jill Ruckelshaus – the series explores how one of the toughest battlegrounds in the culture wars of the 70s helped give rise to the Moral Majority and forever shifted our political landscape.

    Matriarch v. Patriarch. Hofstede’s cultural dimensions theory: ‘femininity represents a preference for cooperation, modesty, caring for the weak, and quality of life…masculinity, heroism and material rewards.’

    “Conversations with Exceptional Women”

    Annual Conference with the Alturas Institute

    Friday, September 10th & 11th, 2020

    Community Library in Ketchum

    ‘Conversations with Exceptional Women is The Alturas Institute’s signature event for the promotion of gender equality. We gather women from across the nation, from various sectors, disciplines and industries to engage in relaxed, casual and stimulating conversations about issues confronting women and the world. Our speakers have included Supreme Court Justices, Nobel and Pulitzer prize-winning recipients, astronauts, award-winning journalists, writers and academics, and acclaimed film directors, producers and actors, as well as Olympic Gold Medalists, corporate leaders and government officials. This year’s theme, “The Higher Ground,” affords our speakers a platform to discuss personal and professional pursuit of their dreams and aspirations, with an eye on the challenges and hurdles that have been overcome, and those that remain.”

    The Mother Who Salvaged Women’s Right to Vote
    Tues., Nov. 5th, 2019
    By Karen Bossick

    When Wood River Valley women pencil in their votes on their ballots today, they will be taking part in a time-honored ritual that was only granted to women 100 years ago.

    “We’ve traveled a long way in the last 100 years with 10 million more Americans becoming eligible to vote with the ratification of the 19th amendment in June 1919,” says Constitutional Scholar David Adler. “But why did it take so long? It’s because women were dealt their cards from the bottom of the deck.”

    The centennial of the 19th amendment granting women the right to vote is near and dear to Adler’s heart.

    He discussed the fascinating tale of how women got the vote–a story punctuated with intrigue–at a presentation at Ketchum’s Community Library. And he talked about it during the annual Conversations with Exceptional Women conference held by the Alturas Institute in September.

    American women could not buy or sell property during the nation’s infancy. They were “under the cover” of their husbands, thanks to old English law.

    “The thinking was that women didn’t need to speak for themselves—their husbands could,” Adler said. “A woman’s place was to have children and keep hearth and home. Politics were considered too dirty for fragile women.”

    Women didn’t necessarily agree.

    None other than Abigail Adams told her husband John, the second president of the United States, “Don’t forget the ladies,” as he headed out to craft a new nation at the Continental Congress.

    He—and others—did forget, or dismiss, the ladies. And 70-some years later in 1848 women rallied to hold the first national convention to promote women’s rights at Seneca Falls, N.Y. “A few good men” also attended, including Frederick Douglass, the former slave-turned-abolitionist, noted Adler.

    They penned something resembling the Declaration of Independence, saying that all men AND women are created equal and that women should have the right to vote.

    That, too, was ignored by the men in power. But Susan B. Anthony managed to turn the tables when she convinced U.S. Sen. Aaron Sargent (R-Calif.) to introduce women’s suffrage to Congress during a long train ride from California to Washington, D.C., in 1872. But, again, white males had no interest in passing the Susan B. Anthony amendment when it was finally introduced in 1878.

    Out west it was a different matter. The first territorial legislature of the Wyoming Territory granted women suffrage in 1869, with a Laramie woman becoming the first to cast a vote in September 1870. Colorado followed suit in 1893 and Utah and Idaho in 1896.

    “The men outnumbered the women 2-1 in the state of Wyoming in the late 19th century. And they thought giving women the right to vote might attract more women to the state,” Adler said.

    By the 1916 election, 16 states had given women the right to vote, prompting Woodrow Wilson to realize that he and others could be defeated if they did not support it.

    In 1918 he delivered a speech noting that women had filled the jobs of men who had gone to war, their  performance critical to the nation’s security, and so they deserved the right to vote. Moreover, he added, women—not men—had given birth to those serving in the army.

    Congress passed the amendment but it needed 36 states to ratify it. With 35 states saying “Aye,” all eyes turned to Tennessee. as the only one left that could take a vote that year.

    Connecticut, Vermont, North Carolina and Florida refused to consider the resolution. And the rest of the Deep South was entrenched against it.

    The Tennessee governor called a special session and armies of suffragettes and anti-suffragette lobbyists invaded the Volunteer State. The War of the Roses erupted as lobbyists from Jack Daniels showed up, pouring plenty of liquid bribes against the amendment for fear women would continue prohibition if they got the right to vote.

    In fact, bribes to vote against the amendment became so prolific that suffragettes were placed at railroad stations to turn back anyone approaching an amendment supporter with a suitcase.

    “Those against felt the passage of the 14th amendment giving black Americans the right to vote had put them under the subjugation of blacks,” Adler said. “We will not let Tennessee be terrorized by women, especially black woman, they said. Let’s not let down our southern neighbors, they said. Women have a place—it’s in the home. If they vote who’s going o be at home to raise the children?”

    At one point, the governor thought he had the vote only to have the speaker of the House change his mind after being offered the promise of governorship if he would keep the amendment from being passed.

    On the eve of the vote, anti-suffragettes sent fake telegrams to amendment supporters telling them, they needed to return home because their wife or child was on their death beds.

    When one amendment supporter received a telegram that his wife was dying, the House minority  leader arranged for a wealthy man to charter a private train so the legislator could get home and, if his wife was okay, return in time for the vote.

    When another received a telegram that his baby was dying, another private train was chartered for him so he could sneak out at night, rush home and rush back.

     As the vote neared its conclusion, it was tied 48-48, despite lobbyists who had been allowed to come forward, Jack Daniels in hand and money in their pockets.

    The tiebreaker was a 24-year-old named Harry Burns, who had been the youngest ever elected to the legislature.

    He wore a red rose on his lapel signifying his opposition to ratifying the amendment. And he had voted against it twice during earlier roll calls.

    But, when it came his time to vote this time, he blurted out a quick “Aye.” And with that the 70-year battle for suffrage came to a close

    “In his suit pocket was a letter from his mother Febb E. Burn in which she asked him to ‘be a good boy’ and vote for the amendment,” Adler said. “She wrote, ‘As you know, I’m an advocate for the 19th amendment. I hope you will do the right thing and vote for America.’ ”


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