Thursday, March 29, 2007

ERA: Take Three?

I'm pretty sure a lot of Americans believe the Equal Rights Amendment was passed in the 70s. (The ERA was actually originally introduced to Congress in 1923.)While it's true that the 92nd Congress passed it in 1972, the ERA came 3 states short of ratification, failing to meet it's 1982 deadline.

But it's back! On Wednesday, The Washington Post broke the news that House and Senate Democrats have introduced the amendment back into Congress under a new name: the Women's Equality Amendment. (WEA? Not quite as catchy...)

Just to be clear, here is the text of the amendment:

Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.

I know. Crazy, right? Good thing we have WOMEN like Phyllis Schlafly to prevent freaky liberals from passing something as "retro" as the ERA. Back in the 70s, she warned us this amendment would give us unisex bathrooms and force women into war via the draft. Now? Why, same-sex marriage for all! Abortions galore!

Schlafly and her flock pretty much single-handedly destroyed the ERA in the 70s. Can she do the same this time? As Carol Lloyd at Broadsheet points out, unlike the 70s, we now have a Christian Right, the Promise Keepers, and a men's rights movement. Shlafly sounds as crazy now as she did then, denying the existence of marital rape and asserting that "women in combat are a hazard to other people around them." (According to Lloyd, 160,000 women have served in Iraq, many in combat zones). Can the Congressional Democratic majority help? We'll have to wait and see, I guess.

An amendment that would give women a right to sue for a higher pay rate (on average, women's salaries are less than men's for equal work - STILL), that would make gender discrimination legally equivalent to discrimination based on race, seems like it should pass with flying colors. I can't even fathom why there is any serious debate about its ratification.

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