We cannot devalue the groundbreaking work of the women’s liberation movement by accepting the edict that American women should go back to the starting line to fight for our basic human and civil rights.
We MUST rise up again now and push back against the illegal foreclosure on our hard-won equality — out of respect and in thanks to those that came before us.
It can be difficult at times to maintain optimism and determination in the face of institutional and state-sanctioned oppression. During times like these, it is important and heartening for us to reflect on our history and sisterhood in this fight for the Equal Rights Amendment; to recognize the millions of women and our allies across America who rose up throughout the sixties, seventies and eighties and fought to bring us to this moment today. They must not be told that their work was all for nothing, that it will go illegally unrecognized by the Federal government.
To illustrate the important responsibility we share to push back hard in this moment-of-truth, I would like to share the story of one of EQUAL MEANS EQUAL’s longtime allies in the fight for the ERA: Michigan ERAmerica, co-founded by Martha Griffiths and Helen Milliken.
Past Chair of Michigan ERAmerica, Laura Carter Callow, recently shared a letter and donation and, along with Chair Judith Dabanian gave EME permission to share portions of the letter here with you:
“Michigan ERAmerica was founded in 1976 following the first of three unsuccessful attempts to rescind Michigan’s ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. Since that time, this statewide coalition of individuals and organizations has remained steadfast in its mission to:
preserve Michigan’s ratification of the ERA; educate the public on the need for constitutionally protected equality; and support ERA ratification efforts in non-ratified states.
Following expiration of the 1982 time-limit, major ERA supporting organizations decided not to introduce a new ERA but rather work to change discriminatory laws, one law at a time. Michigan ERAmerica continued educating the public on the need for an ERA. In 1990 we joined Dr. Allie Hixon of Kentucky and Flora Crater of Virginia to form an ad hoc committee entitled ERA Summit. The initial purpose was to jump-start a push to introduce a new start-over ERA.
Two years later, in 1992, the Madison Amendment was ratified after 203 years.
ERA Summit members questioned the ERA’s time-limit. We then commissioned a legal brief entitled, “Why the Equal Rights Amendment Remains Legally Viable and Properly Before the States.”
From that brief, ERA Summit members developed the Three-State Strategy of working to ratify three more states. Several unratified states began lobbying their state legislators to ratify the existing ERA.
[As of January 27th of 2020] The ERA has met all legal requirements to become the 28th Amendment to the Constitution. As you know, it is in legal limbo. Michigan ERAmerica remains committed to securing constitutional equality for women. However, age and health concerns have complicated our efforts. It is now time to turn this great cause over to a younger generation.”
EQUAL MEANS EQUAL is grateful to all the individuals and organizations who have been a part of this great cause over the past century and is committed to honoring their work and legacy.
The ERA is at a pivotal point in history. What happens in the next few months could decide the outcome of a century of struggle. To help us understand the moment, attorney Nicole Vorrasi Bates answers my questions, leading to an in-depth and up-to-the-minute education on the legal status of the amendment. Please share it widely as it is critical that this information break through to the mainstream:
Please consider making a donation, no matter how humble, as we are committed to seeing this through and are not, as a clear matter of policy, supported by any political party or politically affiliated institution. We are completely funded by your generous support of our unique and focused non-partisan work.
In sisterhood, with love and gratitude,
Kamala, Natalie, Nicole, Jeff, Joel, Tom and the EQUAL MEANS EQUAL team