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After 90 years there is still no Equal Rights Amendment

Women’s Equality Day is August 26th marking 93+ years of women having the right to vote in America. Despite this huge win for women, did you know that the United States of America does not have an Equal Rights Amendment for women?

The original Equal Rights Amendment was sent to Congress in 1923, 90 years ago! But in those 90 years, it still has not become a part of America’s Constitution.

Many of you probably remember the ERA YES “Bra Burning” protests in the 1960s and early 1970s in regards specifically to the ERA and many of you may remember that it passed Congress in 1972, but did you recall that the states never ratified it? The amendment came up just three votes short of being ratified. Some of the states that chose not to ratify were surprising. Arizona and Nevada both did not ratify the amendment and they have been considered to be forward thinking states in the 1970s at the time of the ratification votes.

Other states that did not ratify the ERA were mostly in the south, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, and Virginia. Since the ERA’s failure to be ratified, the Equal Rights Amendment was reintroduced in Congress on July 14, 1982 and has been before every session of Congress since that time. 

It was most recently brought before Congress on March 5, 2013.  It was reintroduced as S.J. RES. 10 by Senator Robert Menendez. (Source: FlagandBanner.com’s exclusive Women’s Equality Day educational poster.)

Why is the amendment so radical?

The text of the Amendment is short and to the point and is not inflammatory in any way yet, it fails year after year to become the law of the land. The Amendment was writte by Alice Paul, a women's rights activist of the 1920s. Her work along with many other women of the time is why the 19th Amendment passed, but even with that victory, Paul felt there was more that could be done to protect women. So she wrote and advocated for the Equal Rights Amendment.

Here is the text:  

  • 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.

 Alice Paul and other women's rights supporters of the 1920s hold up a flag with a quote by Susan B. Anthony.

Why wouldn’t states ratify the ERA?

 

Some may feel that the Equal Rights Amendment is not needed since women won the right to vote with the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920 and women of African or Asian background secured the right to vote in 1948.  Then in 1963, President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act and in 1964 the Civil Rights Act all laws that would protect women’s rights. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 is another Act that prohibits states and local governments from imposing any prerequisite to voting. And in 1978, Congress passed the Pregnancy Discrimination Act as an amendment to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, protecting women from discrimination based on pregnancy.

The argument against ratification may be that many believe these other laws and Acts “cover” women from discrimination based on sex. Though that isn’t a correct assumption, these Acts are very specific and unlike a Constitutional Amendment they can be very easily changed, ignored or inconsistently interpreted.

Laws against sex discrimination do not rest on a strong constitutional foundation and this is why supporters of the Equal Rights Amendment say it is needed. The ERA would place the burden of proving discrimination in a court of law on those who discriminate not the victim of discrimination as it is now.

“Sex discrimination is so 1960, this is 2013?

American’s may think, “This is 2013 women aren’t discriminated against anymore.” Unfortunately, the statistics do not back that statement. Women are still paid significantly less than men even with the Equal Pay Act on the books.

Senior women find themselves collecting much less Social Security wages as well due to the policies not being updated since the 1940s when only 14% of women were in the workforce and divorce rates were much lower. Today, 58.9% of women are in the workforce. Despite these changes, the Social Security system holds to the same sex-biased assumptions from 1940. Married men receive 100% of their benefits for a lifetime, and since homemakers' contributions to marriage partnerships are not valued fully, wives are considered dependents and as such, receive lower payments. Widows receive only 72% of their deceased husband's benefits, and divorced women receive only half.

Because of this discrimination in the Social Security system, 75% of retired single (either by divorce or due to being a widow) elderly women are living at or near poverty level.

Other forms of sex discrimination happen and women do not even realize it. Insurance for example is drastically different for men than it is for women. Insurance regulators routinely approve the use of selective classifications by sex for premiums and payouts on auto, disability, medical and pensions. Women have been proven to be required to pay higher insurance premiums than men for the same benefits. The excuse for this discrimination is that insurance company tables show that more women than men live longer than average or have higher health costs. Passage of the Equal Rights Amendment would force equality in insurance prices, coverage and benefits. According to the National Organization for Women $2.5 billion dollars a year would be gained by women.

In her own words: What a female entrepreneur has to say

During this important time in women’s history, Kerry McCoy, president of Arkansas’ FlagandBanner.com started her business.  Kerry reflects “I was just the right age, at the right time, to see all the changes happening for women in our national news.  As I was graduating from high school my mother, speaking from her generations perspective, asked me, what did I want to be: a secretary, nurse, or school teacher?  I was in shock! Limitations had never occurred to me and I didn’t want to be any of those things.  Thank goodness for the women like Barbara Walters, Gloria Stein, and Hillary Clinton who opened the doors for us to walk through.” 

Kerry continues, “When I started Arkansas Flag and Banner there were sales quotas mandated by the Federal Government requiring the “Good Ole Boys” archetype to do business with women. AFB and many other women entrepreneurs benefited greatly from this program.  It was much like breaking through the Glass Ceiling of today.” Kerry McCoy founded her business in 1975 with just $400 and has turned it into a multi-million dollar company with 25 employees and 2 offices in Arkansas and an international presence on the Internet since 1995. (Find out more about Kerry McCoy at http://presscenter.flagandbanner.com)

Where we are with Women’s Rights today

The 90th anniversary of the Equal Rights Amendment is this year along with the 93rd anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment. In 1971 Women’s Rights Day was set for August 26 to celebrate this event in women’s history. For this special year in women’s history FlagandBanner.com has introduced 4 flags based on the Women’s Rights struggle and a new educational poster for teachers, historians and other educators, also a “Rosie the Riveter” posters with the story behind the iconic World War II graphic is now available.

FlagandBanner.com is based in Little Rock, Ark., and has been in business since 1975. They have been selling flags, flagpoles, banners, pennants and home and garden décor online nationally since 1995.

For more information about the more than 22,000 products Arkansas’s FlagandBanner.com offers, log on to FlagandBanner.com. Become a fan of FlagandBanner.com on Facebook, or call one of their experts at 1-800-445-0653.

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