Saturday, November 8, 2008

Is it time?

I wonder if it's time to revisit the ERA. Yes, it's pending and we "only" need 3 states to ratify, but is it time to rewrite it to include gender expression and sexual orientation? The ERA went down in 1982 with help from the Eagle Forum's blatant homophobic campaign that linked the ERA to gay marriage and AIDS. Ridiculous, I know, but it worked. It also worked, in my opinion, to pit ERA supporters against gay rights supporters: the pro-ERA people spent a lot of time telling people "don't worry, the ERA doesn't sanctify gay marriage." Ugh.

Isn't it time to codify into the Constitution that all people are created equal? I think so. Indeed, I am so sick of the radical right hiding behind "states rights" in an effort to oppress and discriminate against LGBT folks. I fear we won't have Democrats in total control for long so we need to act now.

What to do? Dive into this website from the Alice Paul Institute. It has everything you need to know about the ERA (yes, including that it won't pave the way for gay marriage) including current Congressional action. You can also sign a petition here.

But, I need your help in figuring out how to get LGBT issues included in the ERA. NOW talks about gay rights in their piece on the ERA, but I can't seem to find anyone who is actively working on the ERA and LGBT issues. Can you?

Finally, get inspired. Read the full text of Shirley Chisholm's remarks on the ERA. Here are my favorite parts:
The argument that this amendment will not solve the problem of sex discrimination is not relevant. If the argument were used against a civil rights bill, as it has been used in the past, the prejudice that lies behind it would be embarrassing. Of course laws will not eliminate prejudice from the hearts of human beings. But that is no reason to allow prejudice to continue to be enshrined in our laws -- to perpetuate injustice through inaction.
This is what it comes down to: artificial distinctions between persons must be wiped out of the law. Legal discrimination between the sexes is, in almost every instance, founded on outmoded views of society and the pre-scientific beliefs about psychology and physiology. It is time to sweep away these relics of the past and set further generations free of them.
The Constitution they wrote was designed to protect the rights of white, male citizens. As there were no black Founding Fathers, there were no founding mothers -- a great pity, on both counts. It is not too late to complete the work they left undone. Today, here, we should start to do so.
Note that she spoke these words on August 10, 1970 and yet they ring so true today. Indeed, doubly true if you substitute lesbian, gay, or transgender for "sex" as you read along.

I think the time is now. The moment is now. Let's re-write the ERA to include our LGBT brothers and sisters and let's do it now. What do you think? Should we push to get the ERA passed as is, or work to include LGBT rights as well? If not now, when?


Virginia Harris said...

Women were not treated with equal respect in this campaign, but at least women were in it.

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But most people don't realize that out of 44 American presidents, only the last 15 were elected in a truly democratic fashion by all of our citizens -- men AND women.

Until 1920 women were denied the vote, and few people have any idea of the struggle our suffragettes had to go through to right this wrong. It's an amazing, awe-inspiring story!

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GiGi said...

FWIW, "Suffragette" is a term coined to denigrate women seeking suffrage in the U.K. and one that is not commonly used by feminists and those who speak/write about the women's suffrage movement in the U.S.