The battles women fight everyday — for equal access to education, pay, and health care — would become conquerable if their rights were protected by the Constitution.
“The Arkansas Senate and House will next be in session on January 14, 2019- let’s get ERA voted on in THIS LEGISLATIVE SESSION!”
The people of Arkansas have the opportunity to have their voices heard and play a part in the making of herstory to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). As of today, Arkansas presents an opportunity for supporters and advocates of the ERA to be the last state needed to ratify the Amendment, whether it be through connecting with their state legislators, participating in demonstrations, or raising awareness through social media.
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Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, several organizations campaigned for the Equal Rights Amendment in the Natural State.
In 1972, ERArkansas was created to advocate for the ratification of the ERA. Led by Alice Glover and Margie Ann Chapman, ERArkansas lobbied lawmakers and ran ad campaigns to support the Amendment. Dale Bumpers, the Governor of Arkansas between 1971 and 1975 was a supporter of the Amendment who once proclaimed: “Most of America’s working women are working because of pressing economic need. For these women – who are single, widowed, divorced, separated or deserted – equal rights and equal opportunity are no mere slogans.”
In March 1974, Pat Johnson organized Arkansas’s statewide National Organization for Women group. Local NOW chapters in Arkansas were established in Arkadelphia, Hot Springs, Fayetteville, and Little Rock.
In 1975, the Arkansas legislature considered an ERA ratification proposal. On February 14, 1975, a debate took place before the Arkansas House of Representatives which came to be known as the “Valentine’s Day Debate”. The debate featured ERA supporter Diane Kincaid, a political science professor who had formerly served as chairperson of the Arkansas Governor’s Commission on the Status of Women, against ERA opponent Phyllis Schlafly of the STOP ERA coalition. The ERA bill died in the State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee at the end of the session.
In 1977, the legislature Representative Carolyn Pollan became a supporter of the ERA in the Arkansas legislature. Representative Pollan was one of only five Republicans and one of only three women in the Arkansas legislature. She cosponsored the bill and gave a speech in favor of ratification. The bill passed the State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee by a voice vote. Although ERA advocates wanted the bill to be considered by the full Arkansas House of Representatives, opponents wanted to refer the bill to the Rules Committee. It was referred to the Rules Committee by a vote of 44 to 28 in favor of referral. The bill remained in the Rules Committee and died at the end of the session.
In the early 1980s, Arkansas NOW focused on ratifying the ERA. In addition to Schlafly’s organization, another opponent of the ERA in Arkansas during the early 1980s was Family, Life, and God (FLAG), which lobbied against the Amendment. In 1981, Arkansas Senate President Pro Tempore Ben Allen stated “the chances are slim or none” of the state ratifying the ERA. Despite the efforts of ERA supporters, a ratification bill did not pass, and to date, the Equal Rights Amendment has not been ratified by the Arkansas legislature.
On March 7, 2005, Representative Lindsley Smith (D-Fayetteville) and Senator Senator Sue Madison (D-Fayetteville) introduced HCR 1023 and SJR 17 in the House and Senate respectively., HCR 1023 was a bill “REQUESTING AND PETITIONING THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS TO PROPOSE FOR SUBMISSION TO THE STATES FOR CONTINUED RATIFICATION AN EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES”. SJR 17 ratified the Equal Rights Amendment. That same day it was read twice and referred to the Senate Committee on State Agencies and Governmental Affairs. HCR 1023 was read and referred to the Committee on StateAgencies & Governmental Affairs on that day. On March 24, 2005, the author of HCR 1023 withdrew her bill. Also on March 24, 2005, SJR 17 was returned by the Committee with the recommendation that it “Do Pass”. On April 5, 2005, SJR 17 was read for a third time but failed to pass, and then a clincher motion was adopted. On April 7, 2005, the author of SJR 17 withdrew her bill.
On January 24, 2007, Representative Smith and Senator Madison introduced HJR 1002, a bill ratifying the ERA. The bill was read twice and referred to the Committee on State Agencies & Governmental Affairs on that day. HJR 1002 was amended four times. The first amendment to HJR 1002 was adopted on February 6, 2007, adding two cosponsors and a new section, Section 1, to the bill explaining the history of and rationale for ERA ratification and addressing the issue of the time limit.
The new Section 1 also stated that WHEREAS, nothing in this House Joint Resolution shall be interpreted to conflict with or negate Arkansas Constitution, Amendment 83 regarding marriage in Arkansas”. The second amendment to HJR 1002 was adopted on February 9, 2007 removed 20 cosponsors from the bill. The third amendment to HJR 1002 was adopted on February 12, 2007 and removed one cosponsor from the legislation. The fourth amendment to HJR 1002 was adopted on March 30, 2007 and removed Section 1 from the bill. Each day that the amendments were adopted, the bill was ordered engrossed. On May 1, 2007, the bill died in a House Committee on account of a Sine Die Adjournment.
On February 24, 2009, Representative Smith and Senator Madison sponsored HJR 1014 and SJR 12 in the House and Senate respectively, bills ratifying the ERA. HJR 1014 was read twice and then referred to the Committee on State Agencies & Governmental Affairs. SJR 12 was read twice and then referred to the Senate Committee on State Agencies and Governmental Affairs on that day. An amendment to HJR 1014 was adopted on March 4, 2009, removing three cosponsors and adding one cosponsor to the bill. That same day the HJR 1014 was ordered engrossed. On April 4, 2009, SJR 12 was withdrawn from the Committee and placed on calendar, and then recommended for study in the Interim Committee on State Agencies. Both bills died on May 1, 2009 on account of a Sine Die adjournment.
On March 11, 2013, Senator Joyce Elliott (D-Little Rock) and Representative Warwick Sabin (D-Little Rock) sponsored SJR 19, a joint resolution ratifying the ERA. That same day, it was read twice and referred to the Arkansas Senate’s State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee, but on April 2, 2013 the Committee defeated a SJR 19 on a voice vote. On May 17, 2013. the bill died in the Senate Committee with the legislature’s Sine Die Adjournment.
On March 6, 2017, Representative Vivian Flowers (D-Pine Bluff) and Senator Elliott sponsored HCR 1014, a bill “REQUESTING AND PETITIONING THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS TO PROPOSE FOR SUBMISSION TO THE STATES FOR CONTINUED RATIFICATION AN EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT TO THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION”. The following day on March 7, 2017 HCR 1014 was read twice and referred to the Committee on State Agencies & Governmental Affairs. On May 1, 2017, the bill died on account of a Sine Die adjournment.
Please call your State Senators and Representatives and encourage them to support the ratification of the ERA in Arkansas.
Be sure to stay informed on news and events regarding the progress of the ERA through the Equal Means Equal website at www.equalmeansequal.org.
72% of Americans won’t join the fight for equal rights because they think the Constitution already guarantees them. We need your help to actually achieve that goal by adding the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution. Join our movement. Organize an Equal Means Equal event. Spread the word. We can get this done.
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Want to do more? Let us know how else you can help.
Join the dozens of women’s organizations and thousands of women using the EQUAL MEANS EQUAL documentary film to reinvigorate the fight for the Equal Rights Amendment!
Host a screening in your neighborhood and help get the conversation going about the importance of the ERA. Click the button below to organize a screening in your community.
Democracy is a team sport. Let your ladies know our time is now.
We are closely monitoring the status of the ERA in Arkansas and will be regularly updating this page with the latest news and details on how you can contact Arkansas lawmakers to help them come to the conclusion that 96% of Americans have: All people are equal and should be treated equally under the law.
ERA Ratification in the United States: Only ONE more state is needed to ratify the ERA
37 wins! Thanks to these states for protecting the rights of Americans and fighting to usher in a new ERA.