The Equal Rights Amendment is neither a blue issue nor a red issue, it is above all else, a human issue.
E-R-A. These three letters have struck fear in some, outrage in others and hope in many. Yet, in 2013, questions have been raised: Why the ERA? Aren’t things good the way they are? Why fix it if it is not broken?
In short order, the responses are: Why not the ERA? At 77 cents for every dollar earned, things are not good the way they are. Finally, even if you believe the U.S. Constitution is not broken, it is clearly incomplete, as it denies protection to over half of its population.
On May 16, 2013, Congressman Costa from California, and Congresswoman Maloney from New York, spoke with my students on the steps of the U.S. Capitol. In the conversation with the students, The Equal Rights Amendment, and its need for passage, was raised. This struck a significant chord with the students; and, it has remained at the forefront of class discussions. As such, my students' have begun undertaking a grassroots’ effort, to achieve the Amendment’s ratification by securing three more states, within the next two years.
This has become important to the students for a multitude of reasons. The young women and young men in the class have expressed that they want to receive a paycheck reflective of their contributions, not their gender. Both genders believe that as equal contributors to society, women should receive equal protection. Moreover, the young women want to be viewed as whole persons under the U.S. Constitution.
My students assert that the concerns of the past no longer exist. Women are choosing and actively serving in the military, even on the front lines. Women are “leaning in” and redefining their role in the workforce. Women who have chosen to stay at home have not been required to enter into the workforce, but men have now been afforded the opportunity to make a similar choice of staying at home. Some colleges and universities have embraced unisex bathrooms, but an equal number have not, without incident or lawsuit. So what remains to be feared? Is it a fear of equal protection under the law? Is it a fear of having access to $400,000 more in a lifetime, if equity is achieved in one’s paycheck? Is it a fear of each spouse being able to have an equal opportunity to stay home and raise a child or children?
Empowerment of young women appears to be the trending topic right now, but with a five-year history and over 400-class alum, my students want to put into action what they have learned. They would appreciate the opportunity to achieve their goal with the support of similarly minded advocates. This is not a passing fancy, but a legitimate commitment, by young people, to bring about change in our community, our society and our world.
To accomplish this, we would like to set up a social media network and on the ground network in Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Nevada and Virginia. While we would like to draw initially upon female members of the House and Senate, we would also like to extend this to those who have shown consistent support for the Amendment’s passage on a state and local level. Without a budget, my students are seeking to utilize social media to reach out to others with a similar passion for equity.
We hope others will join us, follow us and lobby for the successful ratification of The Equal Rights Amendment. The time has come and the need exists. If you begin to question whether it can be achieved, remember that even in the tiniest corners of the world, change can happen.
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