12 Apr Equal Rights Amendment Resurfaces in Congress as ‘Women’s Equality Amendment’
Equal Rights Amendment Resurfaces in Congress as
‘Women’s Equality Amendment’
Posted by Carol Soelberg | June 8 , 2007
Democrats in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives last week re-introduced a new version of the controversial and long-slumbering Equal Rights Amendment (E.R.A.) to the United States Constitution. Under a new name, the Women’s Equality Amendment (W.E.A.) states:
Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.
Backers of W.E.A. want the constitution to guarantee equal rights for women, and site the wage gap as a need for the amendment. According to several co-sponsors, women make just 77 cents for every dollar earned by men.
However, opponents say many of the goals of the amendment, like unequal pay for equal work, are addressed by current law or perceived as a problem when the reality is women are choosing to raise their own children instead of climbing the corporate ladder.
According to a TownHall.com column by Ashley Herzog (“The Return of the Women’s Equality Amendment “), “… W.E.A. has nothing to do with equality or rights. It is the tool radical feminists will use to make America a society that does not acknowledge gender.” A genderless society would render unconstitutional organizations that are all-male or all-female, such as the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, fraternities and sororities, and countless other single-sex organizations that are congressionally chartered or operate on school campuses.
Others are concerned that the W.E.A. will invalidate all state laws requiring a husband to support his wife, the inability of widows to collect their late husband’s social security benefits, and no protection for pregnant women from certain harmful workplace requirements.
W.E.A. could fold new homosexual rights into the U.S. Constitution, including the “right” of same-sex couples to get marriage licenses. The amendment could eliminate parental notification laws and create federal control over all issues affecting women, including family and marriage-related issues. Mothers could be sent to fight on the front lines in time of war, exposing them to the risk of sexual abuse upon capture by the enemy. Affirmative action and quotas would significantly feminize the armed forces, as well as police and fire departments. Religious and traditional values standing in the way would likely be trampled by court interpretations to the equal rights amendment.
Arkansas state Rep. Dan Greenberg (Republican) said that courts in two states have ruled that equal-rights amendments in state constitutions justify state funding for abortion. Rep. Greenberg told the Washington Post, ‘The more general language you have in a constitutional amendment, the more unpredictable the policy impact will be.”
Proponents say that such concerns are exaggerated and do not amount to a new front in the culture war. However, the National Organization for Women (NOW) is clearly mobilizing for an assault on family values. Statements on the NOW website identify the battlefronts of an all-out offensive against the family.
Furthermore, the pro-abortion groups NARAL, ACLU and Planned Parenthood have strongly urged state courts to interpret state ERAs to require tax-funded abortion on demand. Two courts have done just that.
By a 5-0 ruling in 1998, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled that ERA language prohibits the state from restricting abortion differently from “medically necessary procedures” sought by men, and the court ordered the state to pay for elective abortions under the state’s Medicaid program. (New Mexico Right to Choose/NARAL v. New Mexico (1998).)
Connecticut Superior Court cited the state’s ERA to require taxpayers to pay for abortions, stating: “Since only women become pregnant, discrimination against pregnancy by not funding abortions … is sex-oriented discrimination… The court concludes that the regulation that restricts the funding for abortions . . . violates Connecticut’s Equal Rights Amendment.” (Doe v. Maher, April 9, 1986).
Lead sponsors are U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy (Democrat-Massachusetts) and Representative Carolyn Maloney (Democrat-New York). Their bills impose no deadline on the ratification process — a major point of contention in past E.R.A. failures. To amend the Constitution, W.E.A. would require passage by two-thirds majorities in each house of Congress and ratification by 38 states. The E.R.A. was previously ratified by 35 states in the 1970s, and deadlines for state ratifications have long since passed. Proponents are pressing for the retention of 35 previous state ratifications from the 1970s.
The introduction of W.E.A. followed a two-day conference in Washington, D.C., sponsored by the National Council for Women’s Organizations that drew hundreds of feminists to lobby Congress on women’s rights, including support for the Women’s Equality Amendment and the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women. Equal rights amendments have been introduced and are circulating across the nation in state legislatures.
We are constantly watching out for those issues and concerns that jeopardize the strength of the family. The W.E.A. is nothing more than a reincarnation of that which the American people have already determined will have a very destructive influence on the preservation of the family. We invite you all to educate yourselves on this issue and join us in defending our American family tradition. This proposed amendment is going to be around for a long time, and we will continue to monitor developments.