Guest Opinion by DIANNE POST
To The Desert Independent
June 13, 2018
Now is the time for Arizona to make history by calling a special session to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). Illinois ratified the ERA leaving only one more state. Arizona should be that state.
Many people think the ERA has already passed or that the Fourteenth Amendment already protects women. Neither is true. A law is not a constitutional guarantee; a law can be changed; a law can be overturned. But the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Oncale v. Sundowner that the term “sex” represents both females and males so the ERA will protect everyone, not just women.
Polls show that 91 percent to 96 percent of American adults believe that men and women should have equal rights, and 72 percent already think that men and women have equal rights guaranteed by the Constitution (ERA Survey). A 2001 Opinion Research Corporation commissioned by the ERA Campaign Network of Princeton, NJ found 96 percent of respondents believed that male and female citizens should have equal rights and 88 percent thought that the U.S. Constitution should make that clear. The Republicans were the first to endorse the ERA in the party platform in the 1940s with the Democrats shortly following suit in 1944. It is far past time.
Women represent only 19.6% of Congress, 21% of the Senate and in Arizona 40% making Arizona one of the highest for representation of women. A basic principle of the American idea is majority rule. Women make up the majority of citizens in the United States and in Arizona, they are 50.3% of the population. Yet women are still not included in the Constitution as equal citizens nor do they have equal representation in political bodies.
Some argue that it’s foolish to vote for the ERA because the “time has run out.” There is no time limit on adopting a Constitutional amendment. The 27thAmendment that prohibits Congress from raising its own salaries was first proposed in 1789 and ratified in 1992 – 202 years later. The 1982 deadline for the ERA was a Congressional resolution passed after the ERA already had 35 ratifications of the 38 it needed.
Arizona was once a beacon for women’s rights. Women could vote in Arizona in 1912, and Rachael Berry, from Apache County, was the first woman legislator elected in Arizona in 1914 before women in the rest of the country could even vote. Isabel Greenway was Arizona’s first congresswoman and only representative from 1933-1935. Arizona holds the record for the most women governors (four, three in a row) and having women hold all state offices at the same time (1998). The first woman appointed to the Supreme Court came from here. In fact, Sandra Day O’Connor was the first legislator to introduce the ERA in AZ. Arizona needs to reclaim its place in the march toward equality by ratifying the ERA today. Contact your legislator and tell them to do it NOW.