Saturday’s Share:Why Not Equal Rights?

Equal and happy under our state law…but what if we lived somewhere else?

Welcome to Saturday’s Share – Reflections and impressions inspired by and celebrating images from daily life, to add a bit of sparkle to the weekend. Happy Saturday!

This week’s share is a celebration of equality, in honor of International Women’s Day, and in support of the Equal Rights Amendment.

This picture is of my and my two children – one male, and one female, in the fall of 2013. To me, they are individuals, and I value them in the way I hope all parents do their children – simply as themselves. I don’t favor my son for being male, nor my daughter for being female.

But, in fifteen states, their sex could be a reason for either one of them to be discriminated against, and they would have no legal recourse.

So, what is The Equal Rights Amendment?

Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.

Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.

Yes,that’s all of it. All it says is that no one is to be discriminated against because of their sex. No man. No woman. No child of either gender.

It’s not complicated at all.

It doesn’t favor women over men; no men over women.

And it’s been around since 1923.

Yes, that’s right. This amendment was drafted 91 years ago – just 3 years after women won another simple equality – the legal right to vote.

And, in 15 states in this purportedly free country, it hasn’t been ratified into the state constitution. And because of that, it’s spent almost a century as a proposal, rather than becoming a federal law, which would require 38 states to ratify the amendment.

Why does it matter?

In the states listed below, there is no legal protection for discrimination on the basis of sex- which is a circumstance of birth.

  • Alabama

  • Arizona

  • Arkansas

  • Florida

  • Georgia

  • Illinois

  • Louisiana

  • Mississippi

  • Missouri

  • Nevada

  • North Carolina

  • Oklahoma

  • South Carolina

  • Utah

  • Virginia

While this is most often seen as an injustice to women and girls, it could as easily become equally unjust to men and boys, should the balance of power shift.

That’s always a risk of accepting any societal discrimination – a culture that will allow one group to be treated unfairly might as easily allow any group to be treated so.

As the mother of these two beautiful young people, one of each sex, I’m very aware of this.

I don’t want either of them to be judged or entitled because of the chromosomes or genitalia they were born with.

It just isn’t fair.

It does not keep to the spirit of the Declaration of Independence, which says:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Now, the case could be made that this statement applies to men, and not women. But are we – can we be – a free society, if we do not offer all people the same rights, under the law?

We’re all equally human.

And, therefore, equally worthy.

I think it’s time for a change. It’s far past time to grant all citizens the same rights, under the law, state by state, and as a nation. It’s time to stand by the promises and claims of equality we tout to the rest of the world – for how can any of us truly be free, if some are discriminated against for the mere circumstances of their birth?

What do you think? I’d love to hear your stories and opinions on the Equal Rights Amendment. After all, Saturdays are for sharing!


    • Lauralynn,

      Tennessee gets a bad rap. In the end, any state is made up of lots of people. People of many types and philosophies.

      I was surprised at some (but not all) of the states that are listed. I’ve lived in more than one of them.

      It’s sad that there is a need for a law to assure gender equality. And sadder that for the want of three more states ratifying it, it can’t be the law of the land.

    • Gretchen,

      I had no idea that we hadn’t, or that the amendment was drafted so long ago. I remember hearing about it on the news when I was a girl in the 70s, and I think I took for granted that it was passed – and it was, in my state.

      But, yeah – it’s ridiculous that people across a country that prides itself on equality don’t have the assurance of this simple measure.

      Now that I know, I won’t forget.

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