Rainbows decorated the nation when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Marriage Equality. It was certainly an overdue victory for the LGBTQ community, however half of the gay population is still held back because the United States doesn’t have an Equal Rights Amendment.
Via ERA Action: “The ruling was momentous and long overdue. We congratulate our LGBTQ siblings and share in this joyous, historic triumph. But this victory begs the question: What about Equality for U.S. Women?
Although most people do not know it, LGBTQ rights is not the final plank of the Civil Rights Movement. The disgraceful truth? There is a large void left unfinished on the road to justice in America. Until we complete it, the equality of fifty-one percent of America – women – are not protected in the Constitution.”
“Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United Sates or by any state on account of sex.” That amendment was written in 1923 by Dr. Alice Paul, the very same woman who wrote the 19th Amendment – women’s right to vote. Long story short, the amendment almost passed in the 1970s but anti-feminist Phyllis Schlafly stopped it from ratification by touring the country and spreading lies and fear about what gender equality would mean for Americans. She painted the picture of a genderless society. In fact, one of the fear tactics she used was that the ERA would grant homosexuals the right to marry.
Hmmmm. We still don’t have an equality clause that mentions women, yet homosexuals can now legally marry in all states. Schlafly, whose son is a homosexual, was wrong about that. She’s part of that Moral Majority-Tea Party-John Bircher crowd that likes to oppress women and anyone who doesn’t vote Republican. The proof is in the Internet search.
As Ms. magazine points out, feminists helped pave the way for Marriage Equality, and now that it’s secured, it’s time to focus on constitutional gender equality for all. People on social media are asking what the next big movement will be. Some are saying it should be the legalization of marijuana. Some think it should be immigration. Perhaps if more people understood that the United States Constitution does not include an amendment specifically mentioning protections for both genders (the 14th Amendment specifies men only), more Americans would make the same amount of noise for the ERA as they did for Marriage Equality.
73% of Americans mistakenly believe we already have constitutional gender equality, but the fact is WE DO NOT. The book Equal Means Equal, written by scholar Jessica Neuwirth, highlights multiple court cases proving current laws aren’t enough. From equal pay to violence against women to workplace discrimination, legal loopholes and loose interpretations of existing laws continue to allow gender discrimination to happen, and it’s worse for women of color.
Popular social media sensation George Takei was recently a guest on The Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell and discussed the Marriage Equality ruling. Takei said that women in America have equality. The fact is that women do have many rights and freedoms, but we don’t have constitutional recognition. Takei is part of that 70% who are under the false impression that equality of the sexes is a done deal.
Women (and men) of the LGBTQ community – your voices are needed. There’s still work to be done as long as discrimination is allowed to continue because we as a nation do not have federal protections for women. Let’s celebrate the wonderful victory with rainbows, marriages and parties – then let’s roll up our sleeves, get busy and make sure that we right this wrong by finally enshrining the Equal Rights Amendment into the United States Constitution.
***There will be naysayers. People love to argue that the ERA is not needed. I’m providing some links (below) in advance addressing and answering the same tired arguments used over and over.
If you wish to dig a little deeper than a quick Internet link, you can check out Jessica Neuwirth’s book Equal Means Equal. Her book is straightforward and provides all the proof anyone could ask for as to why the ERA is needed. I released a book last year titled AMERICAN WOMAN The Poll Dance: Women And Voting. While American Woman includes a lot of information about the ERA, my book comes from a more personal viewpoint than Jessica’s. In it, I dispel some of the BS lies promoted by the anti-feminist crowd, I recounted some of my experiences and invited other women to add their stories and voices to mine.