Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Jennifer McLeod Explains why the ERA is still necessary

ERA Campaign Network Coordinators (and NJ Task Force Members) --

I've been asked to prepare a brief piece about the ERA for an audience of educated women in other countries, many of whom may have little or no knowledge or understanding of our Constitution and system of government. I took it as an interesting challenge, and drafted the piece below. I share it with you now, as an example of a "start at the beginning" approach that may suggest ideas for situations in which an audience is intelligent but lacks a basic understanding of the role of our Constitution and its amendments. NOTE: This piece has been submitted for publication, but will not appear until later this spring. Until then, it should NOT be copied or distributed beyond our ERA Campaign Network Coordinators and their ERA-activist teams.

WOMEN'S RIGHTS IN THE UNITED STATES [draft, not for distribution or publication]
by JENNIFER S. MACLEOD, Ph.D., National Coordinator, ERA Campaign Network. E-mail; website; telephone 609-799-0378. 4 Canoe Brook Drive, Princeton Junction New Jersey 08550.

The rights of the citizens of the United States are based in its Constitution, a remarkable document that can be printed on just two newspaper pages. It was adopted in 1789 after the 13 English colonies in America won their war against the rule of the England's monarchy, and founded the United States of America. The Constitution originally consisted of seven "articles," or sections. They set out the structure and functions of a new form of government, devised to draw its power from, and be continually responsible to, the people -- not monarchs, hereditary ruling families, theocracies, or military victors. The govenment was designed to have three branches -- the executive (the elected president, and his cabinet and staffs), the legislative (the elected members of the two houses of Congress), and the judiciary (the federal judges and Supreme Court justices, nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate). The three branches, each with its defined functions and powers, form a system of checks and balances to prevent power being too concentrated and thus potentially tyrannical.

The fifth Article specifies the process by which the Constitution can be amended (added to) when the people, through their elected representatives, see a pressing need to do so. There are now 27 amendments in the Constitution, starting with several early ones, the "Bill of Rights," that explicitly addressed the rights of the new nation's citizens. Americans take their Constitution very seriously, constantly examining laws and practices in the light of the Constitution -- particularly with regard to governmental actions and the rights of individuals and groups. The ultimate authority on the interpretation of the Constitution lies not with the President or Congress, but with the Supreme Court, the highest court in the land.

A recent scientific survey showed that 96% of American adults believe that male and female citizens should have equal rights. Almost as many -- 88% -- believe that the US Constitution should make it clear that male and female citizens should have equal rights. These views are so widely accepted that 72% believe that the Constitution already does state that male and female citizens are entitled to equal rights. 

Yet the US Constitution does NOT contain any such guarantee. All male citizens, including former slaves, were granted by the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments (in 1868 and 1870) the constitutional right to equal protection of the laws, and the right to vote. But all WOMEN were still excluded: The female citizens of the nation remained subordinate to men, with no vote and no voice in the nation's laws to which they were nevertheless subject. It took many decades of struggle for women to win the right to vote, in 1920, when the Eighteenth Amendment was added to the Constitution.

But the right to vote was not enough. Severe discrimination against women in almost every aspect of society and its institutions and laws continued, ensuring that women remained second class citizens in almost every regard. With no constitutionally guaranteed citizens' rights except the right to vote, women would still had to toil mightily, usually with greatly inferior resources, against the many discriminatory laws and practices that so handicapped their lives.

In an effort to remedy that grievous inequality, women proposed the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA): "Equality of rights shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex." It was not until 1972 that the ERA was finally passed by two-thirds of both Houses of Congress and sent to be ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths or more of the states, as required by the Constitution. The same Congress imposed an unrequired ratification time limit of seven years on the ERA; it was later extended three years by another session of Congress.

Strong and well-funded opposition to the ERA quickly arose, particularly from corporations and other institutions that did not want to give up the economic advantages of having a vast supply of greatly underpaid female employees, arbitrarily almost entirely excluded from betterment or advancement. While dedicated women and their male supporters achieved ratification by 35 of the 50 states within the time limit, that fell short of the required 38. The ERA appeared dead.

Since then, American women's status and opportunities have greatly improved. But this has been the result of their continually and painstakingly working to convince Congress, legislators, and the courts, issue by issue, often state by state, that they should be accorded the equal rights with men that should be their birthright under the Constitution.

Even when anti-discrimination laws are passed, they (unlike Constitutional Amendments) can be weakened, changed, or even overturned by a simple vote of Congress or a state legislature -- and often are. Women's rights supporters therefore continue to reintroduce the ERA in every new session of Congress, starting the amending process over from the beginning. There has been encouraging progress; Representative Carolyn Maloney is currently leading the effort in the House, and Senator Edward Kennedy in the Senate.  

There is another strategy, however, by which the ERA may be achieved. Certain legal analyses and precedents support the view that any session of Congress could extend or eliminate the earlier time limit. Thus the 35 existing state ratifications would remain valid, and only three more state ratifications will be required. There are many thousands of people around the United States supporting and working for the "three-state" strategy. And -- a most exciting development -- one of the not-yet-ratified states, Illinois, is expected to ratify the ERA this year. This will turn the three-state strategy into a two-state strategy, and other unratified states are organizing to reach the goal of 38.

Even though the women of the United States have more rights and opportunities than those in a great many nations around the world, they are unwilling to accept anything less than what they deserve as citizens in a democracy: full equality with men, backed by an explicit Constitutional guarantee. The Equal Rights Amendment, once added to the Constitution, will finally provide that guarantee.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Letter: Illinois should ratify the Equal Rights Amendment

Ninety-four percent of the American public believe the U.S. Constitution should include equal rights for men and women. Support is overwhelming in both political parties. Eighty percent believe the Constitution already does guarantee equal rights. However, as former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia succinctly concluded, the Constitution does not prohibit discrimination against women, according to Jessica Newirth’s. 2015 book “Equal Means Equal.”

The courts have denied women justice for pay discrimination, pregnancy discrimination and gender-based violence. The courts have undermined, not strengthened, efforts to remedy sex discrimination. For instance, the Supreme Court has ruled that there is no federal or constitutional remedy for women when state or local police fail to protect their safety, either by failing to prosecute sexual abuse on college campuses, or by failing to enforce legal orders of protection. Thus, a Constitutional remedy is needed.
Illinois is poised to be able to challenge this deplorable situation. Within the next couple of weeks, the Illinois legislature will have the opportunity to vote to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. The Amendment would add to the Constitution the requirement that: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.”  MORE

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Linda, you have a lot to learn

By Melinda Pillsbury-Foster

Bloodworth-Thomason from Fellowship of the Mind
Linda Bloodworth-Thomason has a lot to learn about being free and in community with others.  Standing up for the truth is required of us as human beings.  It does not matter who it is, the truth needs to be told, both to affirm those who suffer harm and to remind those who violate the rights of others of their error.  ‘Doing the right thing,’ means all of the time, every time, not when it is convenient or emotionally easy. 

To put it plainly, she believes she can enjoy a relationship with a sexual predator and cut this off from any judgement of herself when her ‘friend’ violates the personal autonomy of someone else.  This is absurd, wishful thinking which expresses an ugly truth about Ms. Bloodworth and uncounted others. 

What about the many victims Bill Clinton has left in his wake?  What about the campaigns of destruction waged by Hillary Clinton on these victims of Bill’s sexual addiction? 

On John and Ken Show in Los Angeles, a radio talk show, their phone line, “The Moist Line,” for people to leave messages for what scum bag needs to be thrown into the proverbial dumpster this week, only two names were mentioned several times by many women.  One was Harvey Weinstein and the other was, “What about Bill Clinton?”  We have not forgotten. 

Bill and Harvey from The gateway Pundit, Harv chuckling
For you to not counsel Bill Clinton on this matter as your attorney uncle would, is to turn the hashtag, “#MeToo,” into “PoundMeToo,” probably not what you intended, but you are in the arena with a word processor and TV cameras. 

Not being believed, being discounted, dismissed, causes trauma which sends ripples of pain down the entire life of an individual.   Each of us is responsible for our own lives and can be judged when we give the semblance of honor to those whose own actions are at variance with these values when we choose to ignore this human responsibility.   

Linda, you are, as you refused to admit, a hypocrite. 

Freedom from sexual harassment is not just for women in Hollywood, it is for all of us, women and men all of our lives.  Freedom goes way beyond respect for our bodies. Our freedom includes our choices, how we live, love and work as long as we do no harm to others. 

The freedom which increased the recognized autonomy for women, minorities, yes, and for men, to choose their own paths in life, have been expensive.  That cost has been borne by women and men, many now dead, who put their lives on hold to stand up for the rights of those who could not speak for themselves or who were ignored for the reasons which a few weeks ago remained unspoken by those in the Entertainment Industry.

This could not have happened without the collusion of thousands of individuals.  It is easy to understand why so many women and men remained silent, but those reasons do not excuse them or mitigate their continued suffering.    

One tiny step has been taken, despite the overt nature of the sexual predators, male and female, operating within the Entertainment Industry.   But we remain in a world where the Equal Rights Amendment is still unratified, despite the fact most believe this has long since happened.

Linda, you have enabled a sexual predator and then attempted to evade accountability, kicking his victims to the curb.  You admitted this openly when you said, “I will be the first to admit that clearly delineated moral choices can still be painfully complex where friendship is involved. One of the best friends I will ever have and a man I love dearly, former President Bill Clinton, has certainly taxed my feminist conscience, but always without diminishing my affection. I even helped write his apology to the nation for his own sexual misconduct, was sitting next to him when he delivered it, and believe to this day it was based on something that was none of our business. And yes, some may call it hypocritical, but I confess to having had no problem warning at least three top-level Democratic operatives against allowing Harvey Weinstein to host political fundraisers. A warning that evidently (and to the glee of Fox News) fell on deaf ears.”

There is a road out of your hypocrisy.  Read on.  We need a lot more than the ratification of the ERA, as important as that is.  Hear this, there is no space in our world for protecting predators in any arena.

Explaining you were sympathetic when it cost you nothing should make you cringe.  I’m sure Ashley Judd, Rose McGowan and others in your industry are relieved.  They can more on, heal, know they are safe.  But there are others who are not safe, not one bit. 

You recounted your personal experiences in the Entertainment Industry.  It is the same in every part of our world where an elite, usually male, but not always, can dictate terms which include demanding favors, sexual or other, from those beneath them.  The relative power of the individual makes it easy to ignore obligations or make demands on those who work for them or are themselves in politics. 

Every part of the political arena, corporate life, the military, and more are subject to the same abuses.  Your silence within your own industry is mirrored in the still unresolved acts of Bill and Hillary Clinton.   

Much of my life was spent in GOP and Libertarian politics.  It was exactly the same.  As a condition of employment Ed Crane of CATO required women who worked there to have sex with him.  Crane was never a proponent of freedom but enjoyed a half-million dollars a year for manicuring issues for his employers, the Kochs.  I exposed this but no on in that arena cared much.  There is, despite that, a difference between being a Libertine and a Libertarian.     

You don’t like Donald Trump so denouncing him is easy.  Trump admitted his failing openly and apologized to his victim.   But Bill apologized to those he had not directly victimized only after being impeached.   So where is the lesson learned?  Gossip has it his behavior has not changed.  How about if we ask his Secret Service Agents?  They likely know.

Corporate Officers are also known to behave in the same way.  Ideology does not matter but power does. 

Linda, you were whining when you wrote, “As for the small screen, I myself was the creator of a man-loving, feminist show called Designing Women. We were arguably one of the most progressive, loudmouthed, female series ever — unapologetically, week after week, we showcased issues involving the objectification of women, violence against women and sexual harassment. Out of 163 episodes, we received one Emmy … for hairdressing. (It might be worth noting that Television Academy voters were 80 percent male.)”

I happen to have a partner who had some comments on your Poplar Bluff Mule memories, which play so large in Designing Women.  Your characterization for your ‘designing women,’ were your parents, descendants of the Bloodworth boys on Lester Street.  One of the boys went into law in Poplar Bluff. 

The Bloodworth boys learned about girl power from those Brake Girls who lived across Lester Street.  The Bloodworth Boys lost a fist-fight to the four Brake girls after bullying the recently fatherless sisters on the subject of racism.  Their mother had run for Butler County Clerk in an alliance between the Women’s Christian Temperance Union and the then Negro population, which took on the Klu Klux Klan, who bought the election with free drinks with the quid pro quo they would vote for the Klan candidate against the widow.  Jesse Lee Collins-Brake lost, but broke the back politically of the Klan in the Boot Heel ever after.  The young Bloodworth boys were gloating over this loss and took it as a license to bully the girls.  The Brake girls whipped their asses with their KerPow, continuing to swim with their black friends in the Black and Current Rivers. 

Everyone, Brake and Bloodworth went home with black eyes. 

To their credit, the Bloodworth boys learned their lesson and, thereafter, fought for desegregation and positive race relations the rest of their lives.  However, they did not seem to communicate to you the full source of the conflict; to not bully girls.  Now, you know and we can move on.  To exonerate yourself you need to advocate to Bill, as his ghost writer, that beyond admission of guilt, sorrow, and apology, he needs to tell the truth about his bullying and quid pro quos for sex and make restitution.  One way he and Hillary can do this is to reroute the $250.000 given to them by Harvey Weinstein and instead create the Harvey Weinstein “Endowment” and add their own millions, not as hush money, but as true restitution.  Since Bill and Hillary now control $900M, this coming after poverty when their campaign fund was down to $50,000 in March 1992, could make a dent in the ladies’ problems. 

Bill and Hillary ignored all the wisdom and solutions offered them in favor of power and money, only pretending to care about solving so many problems.    

The lives led by the Bloodworth Boys and Those Brake Girls from Poplar Bluff could solve many of the problems Americans face today.  Go back and ask your families, and some Mules.  If they don’t know, you can come ask me. 

Monday, January 30, 2017

Equal Rights for Women: Maryland Lawmaker Revives Drive

From:  Baltimore Patch

Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., announced the re-introduction of the Equal Rights Amendment.

Days before participating in the Women’s March on Washington with several female family members, Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., announced the re-introduction of the Equal Rights Amendment.
“Twenty senators have joined me,” Cardin said. “We believe this is a good time to get this done…seeing the type of activities Mr. Trump has discussed in his campaign, it is important to have this type of protection.”  MORE

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Women's March Largest in History?

From:  EdHat

By Robert Bernstein
Approximately 3,000 to 5,000 people gathered in Da La Guerra Plaza on Saturday for Women's March Santa Barbara. The event expressed solidarity in the wake of the inauguration of Donald Trump as president and was not for women only. The crowd peacefully went on to march down State Street to the Dolphin Fountain.

The crowd was so large that after the marchers reached the Dolphin Fountain, it was still backed up to downtown and there was no room to turn around! It was decided simply to reverse direction! In the words of Nobel Laureate Bob Dylan, "and the first one now will later be last, for the times they are a-changin'"
Millions marched in Washington, DC, Los Angeles and around the country and around the world. Some are claiming this may have been the biggest demonstration in US history.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Qandeel Baloch: 'She was a girl just like you'

From:  BBC

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

NJ Lawmaker Urges Congress To Posthumously Honor Ridgefield Suffragist

From:  Daily Voice

by Kathy Reakes

Sen. Diane Allen is sponsoring a resolution that urges Congress to posthumously award the Congressional Gold Medal to New Jersey native Alice Paul. Photo Credit: Wikipedia.commons
RIDGEFIELD, Conn. -- The fight for women's rights is almost as old as our country. But the women who led the way and are still doing so, aren't always recognized for their accomplishments. 

That's why New Jersey state Sen. Diane Allen (R-Burlington) is urging Congress to recognize women's rights heroine the late Alice Paul, a New Jersey native and longtime Ridgefield resident

Allen is sponsoring a resolution -- that just passed the New Jersey Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism & Historic Preservation Committee -- to posthumously award the Congressional Gold Medal to Paul in recognition of her role in leading the women’s suffrage movement and in advancing equal rights for women. MORE