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Left Schemes to Revive ERA

Liberal Democrats in Congress have once again reintroduced the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), and their efforts, if successful, would do nothing for the rights of women but would legalize same-sex marriage, wiping out the laws in all the states that have embraced the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

Some feminists are still whining that once upon a time women didn’t have the right to vote in some states — although even I don’t know anybody who remembers that ancient time. Some feminists are crying because they say the Constitution says “all men are created equal.” It doesn’t, those words are from the Declaration of independence.

Feminists are claiming that ERA is the remedy for this alleged oppression of women and that ERA for the first time will put women in the U.S. Constitution. But men are not in the Constitution — the Constitution uses only sex-neutral words such as “we the people,” person, citizen, President, and representative.

Those are the sort of foolish arguments we hear from the tired old feminists who have reintroduced ERA into Congress and some state legislatures. Naturally, they have the enthusiastic support of that well-known advocate of women’s rights, Sen. Teddy Kennedy (D.-Mass.).

In the peak of media infatuation with the Gloria Steinems and the Betty Friedans, the feminists persuaded Congress to pass ERA in 1972 and send it out to the states for ratification with a seven-year time limit. While they claimed ERA would put “women” into the U.S. Constitution, they forgot to put “women” in the amendment — in fact, it would only put “sex” in the Constitution. It was obvious that ERA’s goal was not to benefit women, but to force us into a gender-neutral society in which we would all be required to treat men and women exactly the same no matter how reasonable it might be to respect differences.

ERA was passionately debated across America for 10 years and American women rejected it because they discovered it was a fraud. It would give absolutely no benefit to women, not even in employment, because the employment laws were already sex-neutral. The Equal Pay for Equal Work law was passed in 1963.

On the other hand, ERA would be a big takeaway of rights and benefits that women then possessed. We got our facts straight from the writings of the pro-ERA legal authorities: Yale Law School Professor Thomas I. Emerson’s 100-page article in the Yale Law Journal, and ACLU lawyer Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s 230-page book, Sex Bias in the U.S. Code. Those documents revealed that ERA would draft women into military combat, abolish the presumption that the husband should support his wife, and allow activist judges to cause all kinds of legal mischief.

Ginsburg’s book, published in 1977 by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, makes clear that the “equality” principle of ERA would eliminate the concept of “dependent women,” and therefore wipe out the wife’s and widow’s benefits in Social Security. Her book also details how ERA’s rigid sex-neutral rule would require such nonsense as sex-integrating prisons and the Boy and Girl Scouts.

We showed that ERA would give enormous power to the federal courts to define the words in ERA: “sex” and “equality of rights.” Section 2 of ERA would give vast new powers to the federal government over all laws that allow traditional and reasonable differences of treatment on account of sex: marriage, property, divorce, alimony, adoptions, abortion, homosexual laws, sex crimes, private and public schools, prison regulations, and insurance.

In 1977, the ERA advocates saw that they were approaching the seven-year time limit without enough ratifications, so they persuaded Congress to give them $5 million to stage a pro-ERA conference called International Women’s Year (IWY), which was then held in Houston in November 1977. Featuring every prominent feminist, IWY received massive media coverage from the 3,000 members of the media who attended. But all that media coverage showed the American people the radical effects of ERA when the thousands of IWY delegates voted for taxpayer funding of abortions and the entire gay-rights agenda.

New Mexico’s state supreme court ruled in 1998 that its state ERA requires abortion funding because to deny it would discriminate on account of sex. ERA would apply this rule nationally.

ERA would make same-sex marriages a constitutional right based on the plain meaning of the amendment, which prohibits sex discrimination “on account of sex,” as numerous legal authorities have testified. ERA would knock out DOMA, which uses such “sexist” words as “husband” and “wife.”

As time was running out on ERA, the feminists ran for help to President Carter who, with Congress, gave them a three-year time extension. Political cartoonists described this shenanigan as giving three more innings to a baseball game that was not tied up.

The American people were so turned off by the dishonesty of the time extension that ERA never scored another victory, even though ERA has since been voted on about 25 times, in state legislatures, in Congress, and in several statewide referenda.

In the famous lawsuit called Idaho v. Freeman, a federal court ruled in 1982 that the time extension was unconstitutional, and that the rescissions are constitutional. At its peak, ERA was ratified by 35 of the needed 38 states, but five of those rescinded their ratifications. On appeal, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the lawsuit was “moot” because ERA was dead, regardless of whether we recognize the original time limit of March 22, 1979, or the extension time limit of June 30, 1982.

Since then, the ERAers have repeatedly tried to revive ERA by re-introducing ERA in Congress to start the process all over again, but it has never gone anywhere.

ERA advocates have now cooked up another dishonest plan. They are telling people that they can ignore both time limits, ignore the federal court decision in Idaho v. Freeman, and ignore the U.S. Supreme Court decision that ERA is dead, then deceive three states into passing ERA ratification resolutions, and then get their friend House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.) to declare ERA part of the U.S. Constitution. This is so outrageously dishonest that we wonder how anybody could argue it with a straight face.

The ERAers are presenting ERA in exactly the same text that has been voted down again and again, and rejected by the American people, so all the same original arguments against it are still valid. The attempt to revive ERA should be labeled ERA-Retro. The United States said “no” to the Equal Rights Amendment 25 years ago. We should let ERA rest in peace.

Written By

Phyllis Schlafly is a lawyer, conservative political analyst and the author of the newly revised and expanded Supremacists: The Tyranny of Judges and How to Stop It.

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