As Women’s History Month begins we are distraught (but not surprised) to report that Equal Means Equal recently received notice that the Independent Women’s Forum has filed a brief in our case, opposing the Equal Rights Amendment and even opposing our right, as women, to fight for the ERA. Their brief was filed in the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston, where our lawsuit against the Archivist is currently pending.
It’s hard to believe that in 2021 anyone can be opposed to the idea that women deserve full equal protection rights under the United States Constitution. Yet here we are. It is a testament to the lack of effective women’s leadership in this country that we have not yet come together, in unity, around the fundamental idea that women deserve to be treated with equal respect under all laws.
That some women don’t want equality is perplexing, but so be it. The fact remains that over 90% of Americans want the Equal Rights Amendment to be added to Constitution and find it unacceptable that half the population in America is systematically subjected to second-class treatment under all laws, at all times.
Some people ask us here at Equal Means Equal why women need the ERA. They ask us to point to a law that explicitly excludes women or permits mistreatment of women. In our lawsuit, we point to the many state hate crime laws that cover all classes of people except women. These laws are patently discriminatory based on sex. And even in states where sex is a protected class category in hate crime laws, the laws are never enforced when women are targeted for violence – even when a man rapes or beats numerous women over a period of many years.
Nonetheless, asking women to prove that a law explicitly discriminates against them is a red herring, because most sex discrimination occurs in inadequate enforcement and application. Nobody asks black people to show “where in the law it is written that black people must be treated worse than white people” because that would betray deep ignorance about how race discrimination works. The same holds true for sex discrimination.
The discrimination women endure has been normalized to near invisibility for a very long time, but the suffering is real. Five women a day are killed by men in this country because women do not yet have full equal protection rights. If the ERA were law, the disproportionate failure of our legal system to address violence against women would be unconstitutional. Put another way, women are raped, beaten and killed at high rates because the systems that make and enforce our laws laws are allowed to deny women equal protection. When an entire class of people is not entitled to equal protection, they are by definition protected less than other classes of people. It’s that simple.
That anyone would find this tolerable is hard to conceive. That a “women’s” group would support the suffering of its own people is as mind-boggling as stories of enslaved people who insisted emancipation was a bad idea.
We hope you agree with us that efforts to pit women against each other women will not succeed. Equal Means Equal will continue to work to unite women, and we will fight as one against all the forces, including women’s groups, that seek to divide us.
Wendy, Kamala, Natalie, Thila, and the EME Team
PS: Your generous tax-deductible contributions are an investment in our results-driven organization on the frontlines of the fight for equality. Any amount is greatly appreciated, but for donations of $500 or more we’ll send you our exclusive (and very popular!) handmade Equal Means Equal hoodie as a special thank you.