Phyllis Schlafly v. ERA Redux

July 12, 2009

Within the last few years the Equal Rights Amendment, ERA has been given a breath of new life. It may be that the 3 year extension sought and dismissed as moot by the courts in 1982 may now be the congressional beneficiary of a no time limit extension.  I think that’s good, even great.  What worries me is fighting for the ERA the second time around  the same way it was fought between 1972 and 1982.  I don’t think the ERA’s opponents will use the same tactics, but they will update the old ones.  Paul Weyrich, (here he is delivering a speech on the benefits of low voter turnout)  founder and CEO of the Heritage Foundation and funder of Renew America U.S. has this to say about a possible ERA revival:

They are back, just when you thought it was safe. I mean the Feminazi (doesn’t Rush use this word?) crowd. And guess what they have in store for you? Why, they intend to re-introduce the Equal Rights Amendment in both Houses of Congress.

Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum allowed in 2001 that it was possible ERA may be on the table again.  This was their take on it from ERA Mischief in Illinois, a letter to Illinois legislators:

It comes as a surprise that someone is trying to dig up the dead-and-buried ERA (Equal Rights Amendment) and pretend it’s alive. Please don’t be fooled. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on October 4, 1982 that ERA is officially dead because its time limit has expired. (NOW v. Idaho, 459 U.S. 809, 1982) (Also see St. Louis Post Dispatch, October 4, 1982)

Schlafly and Justice Clarence Thomas

Schlafly and Justice Clarence Thomas

Schlafly reminds the legislators that not only did not one more legislature endorse the ERA, but five actually rescinded their endorsements between 1979 and 1982.  No doubt Ms. Schafley is willing to accept most of the credit for these outcomes.  She claims that the more people were exposed to the ERA the more it was reviled, citing these reasons:

Not only does Schlafly contend that the loathsome federal ERA is dead but the states which adopted an ERA should also face a challenge, i.e.  a complete rollback in the feminist quest for equality.

Abortion Funding: Without an ERA, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that there is no right to have abortions paid for by public funds. (Harris v. McRae, 448 U.S. 297, 1980) That’s why Congress has been able to pass the Hyde Amendment each year since 1977, forbidding the use of federal tax funds for most abortions. The same policy is followed by 34 states, which prohibit the use of state tax funds used to perform most abortions.But the law is different in states that have a “State ERA.” In New Mexico, the state supreme court ruled on Nov. 25, 1998 that ERA requires the state to pay for abortions in exactly the same way as any other medical procedure. The court reasoned that, since only women become pregnant or undergo abortions, the denial of taxpayer funding for them can be construed as sex discrimination. That logic dictates the conclusion that ERA makes taxpayer funding of abortion a constitutional right. (N.M. Right to Choose/NARAL v. Johnson , 975 P.2d 841, 1998)Likewise, the Connecticut Superior Court ruled that “the regulation that restricts the funding for abortions . . . violates Connecticut’s Equal Rights Amendment.” (Doe v. Maher, April 9, 1986) And, on December 7, 2000, the same result was reached by a state court in Texas, which also has a State ERA: “[W]e hold that the State’s implicit adoption of the Hyde Amendment violates the Texas Equal Rights Amendment.” (The Low-Income Women of Texas v. Bost , Texas 3rd Court of Appeals, No. 03-98-00209-CV, 2000)Same-Sex Marriages: Without an ERA, Congress in 1996 was able to pass the Defense of Marriage Act (P.L. 104-199, codified at 1 U.S.C. 7), which states that, for purposes of federal law, “the word `marriage’ means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word `spouse’ refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.” That federal law, and some 33 similar state laws, would be swept away if ERA would make same-sex marriages a constitutional right.  In the article Will the ERA Rise Again by Paul Weydrich, founder of the ultra conservative Heritage Foundation, Mr. Weydrich (2007) covers much of the same ground as Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum, disputing the strength of the movement for ERA on the second go-round: ERA proponents made no progress during their time extension. When that time expired Phyllis Schlafly held her second victory dinner with her friends in the Conservative movement, who hailed her as a heroine. She was certain, as was I, that this fight was over once and for all.

Reagan and Schlafly

Reagan and Schlafly

When ERA was first proposed many opponents said that proponents wanted unisex bathrooms and gay marriage. They claimed that this was the most vicious propaganda that the right had ever adduced. I don’t know about unisex bathrooms but many of today’s proponents do want homosexual marriage.In the House I doubt the ability of the proponents to achieve a two-thirds majority.

In the Senate the question is where Senators Elizabeth Hanford Dole (R-NC) and Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX) will be.

Current female senators

Current female senators

Other Republican female Senators likely will be in the pro-ERA corner. So it is conceivable that the Senate might come close to two thirds. Meanwhile, Phyllis Schlafly, now in her 80s, still is going strong. And she has a strong organization to pick up the fight.Republicans control more state legislatures than during the first go-around. It may be that, rather than this being a serious legislative effort, ERA proponents simply want to draw a bulls-eye on conservatives at the state and local levels. If that is the case two can play the game. Just ask the good lady from Alton, Illinois.

Clearly, what the far right warned us about regarding the ERA has come to pass.  Some states DO have marriage equality and the trend seems to be spreading. Will the far right be able to muster the arguments and the forces to fight it? Women ARE taking more places in the military, although still in non-combat, though dangerous,  positions.  Abortions DO exist although their numbers are fewer.  There are even a few unisex toilets.  And guess what?  The world hasn’t ended.  Perhaps public sentiment will continue to move in these directions.  Perhaps the radical conservatives won’t forever be able to hold back the tide of change that will culminate in a new ERA.  Let’s hope not.


Do These Women “Smoke”? (h/t) Murphy

April 26, 2009

What do these women have in common? Success. Power. Republicanism.  Oh, and the admiration of Republican men.

They also have a certain facial expression – steely. Self confident. Something else I can’t quite put my finger on.  Superiority?  They look pretty serious – maybe stern is a better word.  They all have perfectly quaffed hair, don’t you think?

Let’s start with Jeanne Kirkpatrick.  Kirkpatrick had a long career.  Two terms in Reagan’s cabinet.  She was ambassador to the U.N. And on staff at the National Security Agency, etc. Lots of sub-cabinet appointments.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N.

She’s famous for her “Kirkpatrick Doctrine,” which advocated U.S. support of anticommunist governments around the world, including authoritarian dictatorships, if they went along with Washington’s aims—believing they could be led into democracy by example. She wrote, “Traditional authoritarian governments are less repressive than revolutionary autocracies.”

Did she mean Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Congo, Chile, El Salvador,  and Guatemala?  They were great with human rights.  And no she’s not particularly attractive – but not so unattractive as to call her any animal names, or suggest she’s not feminine, she is, in a masculine sort of way.  But who’s to judge? She looks very patriotic.

There's Kirkpatrick in the middle

There’s Kirkpatrick in the middle.  All the men are smiling.  Is Jeanne?  I think I’ll call her a terrapin.

How about this woman?  phyllis_schlaflyWe all know who she is.  Does she fill the bill as a “smoker”?  President of the Eagle Forum.  Best known for supporting Barry Goldwater in 1964, accusing the Republican Liberals (are they all gone to the moon?) of manipulating the election in A Choice, Not an Echo. Her most important accomplishment was single-handedly (with a little operative assistance and a lot of lies) defeating the Equal Rights Amendment. She still makes lots of money on lecture tours working against (you said it) women’s equality and same-sex marriage.  Phyllis – I have to say booooooo to you because I’ve been sorry since the ERA went into the garbage.  But do you smoke?  Betty Friedan said she wanted to burn you at the stake.  I’ll bet you would have smoked then.

Phyllis, errr, Mrs. Shlafley, (she preferred being called Mrs.) is attractive.  She’s more traditionally feminine than Kirkpatrick.  She also had a wealthy husband and six children to prove it.  Did I say she was attractive?  Not so much, really, if you stare at her for a while and snarl.  Well, she’s certainly not ugly enough to call her by any animal names. Calling her an eagle might be tempting, but eagles are beautiful. I can’t even think of the animal she might be. She’s very patriotic, though. So let’s move on.

President-Eagle Forum
Phyllis Shlafley
Britain's prime minister

Britain's prime minister

Everybody knows this woman, too.  The Iron Lady, Margaret Thatcher.  Britain’s prime minister for a record three terms.  Famous either for her neo-conservatism or neo-liberalism (can’t remember),  but definitely for her Thatcherism.  Everyone knows she could kick butt.  She kicked a lot of British and Argentine Butt back in the eighties.  I’ll bet the Argentine military felt pretty bad losing the dictator and the Maldives all in the same decade.
Ronald Reagan loved her.  He had a particular attraction to women like her (see J. Kirkpatrick and P. Shlafley, above).  All those guys smiling in the picture thought she smoked, even the un-indicted co-conspiritors.
I think she is kind of attractive. No. Maybe.  Feminine?  Not really  -too scowlly.  Wears her clothes well, though.  Nice hairdo.  When she walked (walks?) she looked very purposeful and seemed to stare down the Argentine navy without flinching. She made me nervous.  Good thing she didn’t allow gays in the military.  They’d be way to squeamish to stare down those Argentines.
She seems patriotic.  I’m sure she was (is?) patriotic. I think I see a tiny Union Jack pinned to her lapel. I wouldn’t even dare to call her any rude animal names (cougar?, giraffe, gazelle) (that she doesn’t deserve, anyway) because she would bite my head off.  Yikes.

So on a smokin’ scale from 1-10.  How do you think they rate?  Let’s be generous and give ’em all a prize.