By BettyJean Downing
Have you heard of the 27th Amendment? The idea was born in 1776, it has a long and colorful but sad story, one that has been hotly debated over the course of our history and is revisited decade after decade. Most of my readers have lived through a lifetime of struggle surrounding the pros and cons but where are we now?
Jocelyn Andersen and I are writing a book together about what has taken so long to pass the Equal Rights Amendment. Clearly, The reasons today are not the same as they were in 1776, or even in the 1920’s. Jocelyn is a Conservative Christian. I am an Independent Moderate. And we stand together in support of the Equal Rights Amendment.
In 1776, Abigail Adams wrote to her husband John, “In the new code of laws, remember the ladies and do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands.” John Adams replied, “I cannot but laugh. Depend upon it, we know better than to repeal our masculine systems.”
In 1848, at the first Woman’s Rights Convention was held in Seneca Falls, NY. a two-day meeting of 300 women and men to call for justice for women in a society where they were systematically barred from the rights and privileges of citizens, however, the call for justice was the object of much ridicule.
In 1872, Susan B Anthony cast a ballot in the presidential election, citing her citizenship under the 14th Amendment. She was arrested, tried, convicted, and fined $100.
In 1919, the 19th Amendment affirming women’s right to vote ran into stiff opposition from states’-rights advocates, the liquor lobby, business interests against higher wages for women, and a number of women themselves, who believed false claims that the amendment would threaten the family and require more of them than they felt their sex was capable of.
Women finally won the right to vote on August 26th, 1920. The 19th Amendment passed by one vote, cast by the son of an activist who was coerced by his mother to change his mind and support the amendment rather than oppose it.
Thus, mainstream and militant suffragists together finally won the first and, to date, the only, specific written guarantee of women’s equal rights in the Constitution—the 19th Amendment, which declared, “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.” It had been 72 years from Seneca Falls to victory, and ironically, the most controversial resolution had been written into law first. But many laws and practices in the workplace and in society still perpetuated men’s status as privileged and women’s status as second-class citizens.
The 19th Amendment granted the right of women to vote but fell short, however, of granting women equality under the Constitution.
Alice Paul believed freedom to vote did not grant freedom from sex discrimination. In 1923, she drafted what was to become The Equal Rights Amendment affirming the equal application of the Constitution to all citizens.
In 1940’s, both the Republicans and Democrats added the 1943 draft of the Equal Rights Amendment to their platforms. “Alice Paul rewrote the ERA in 1943 to what is now called the ‘Alice Paul Amendment,’ reflecting the 15th and the 19th Amendments: ‘Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.'”Again, the power structure felt threatened by equality for women.
In 1972, the Equal Rights Amendment passed the House and Senate as the proposed 27th Amendment and was sent to the states for ratification. Three states failed to ratify. It is not to late to ratify this amendment although many would say we have run out of time and must start over. For the purposes here lets go with why we need the ERA.
This writer believes our Constitution needs the following Amendment
“Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.”
This Amendment is needed as much now, in the 21st century, as it was in the 19th century.
In Alice Paul’s remarks, as she introduced the Equal Rights Amendment in Seneca Falls in 1923, she sounded a call that still carries great poignancy and significance over 80 years later: “If we keep on this way, they will be celebrating the 150th anniversary of the 1848 Convention without being much further advanced in equal rights than we are. . . . If we had not concentrated on the Federal Amendment we should be working today for suffrage. . . . We shall not be safe until the principle of equal rights is written into the framework of our government.”
So, as previously stated, Jocelyn Andersen and I are writing a book together in support of passing the Equal Rights Amendment. This idea to write a book was born about eight years ago, and reborn when the Liberal left usurped the ERA for reproductive rights over equal rights. That is this writer’s opinion, and I am open to yours. You can choose to be anonymous or not. But please be a part of the conversation.
Send your thoughts or phone number to me at FreeMeNow1@icloud.com
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