From the Archives, April 25, 1975: Equal rights for women reconsidered

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Photo credit: Molly Putman

Jim Morrison/ Polar Star

“Equality of rights under law shall not be abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.” This is the proposed 28th Amendment which has been ratified by Alaska. The amendment must be ratified by 38 states before it is enacted.

The question came up in the state house when Rep. Hackney said that the state should rescind the Equal Rights Amendment that he helped pass in the fall.

Rep. Hackney didn’t think it was such a big deal last fall when he supported the amendment but he reconsidered because of excessive mail reply. He came to the opinion that the move to repeal was a good one. His complaints against the ERA were as follows:

Heads of families, generally men shouldn’t have their jobs placed in jeopardy by a woman seeking another career outside of the kitchen, he said.

ERA makes it desirable for women to go out en-mass and enter the work force.

Four other legislatures have reneged on their ratification of the ERA. He feels some states including Alaska just jumped on the band wagon with their reaction to the ERA.

In Washington active lobbying against the amendment has held the vote to a standstill four states short of the required 38. Activists say they are defending the real rights of women.

“A woman should have the right to be in the home as a wife and a mother,” said Phyllis Schafly, a leading lobbyist quoted in People magazine. “I argue ERA strictly and soley on the rights women will lose because of it”, she said, among them are “the right to be provided with a home, to go to a single-sex college and to stay home and be a mother.” Many of these arguments were upheld by letters to legislators, many coming from women.

Many people fear that jobs will be lost because of the rapid influx of women into the job market. With a recession gripping our country the fear of women in some aspects is turning into mania. Yet, according to Hackney, all the women’s liberation and equality movements in the last several years have yet to provide at least a faint bettering of the quality of life.

The question was taken to Dr. Andrea Helms, Affirmative Action Officer of the Northern Region and professor of Political Science. She explained that the ERA will not be taking away that many jobs because the average woman will still want to do primarily what she has done in the past. The ERA will just state to the people that sex cannot be used to discriminate against a person. Helms went on to say that the passage of the amendment will not settle everything, for there will still have to be laws passed and court actions taken to uphold certain aspects of the amendment. She also said there are laws that will have to be changed or dropped completely.

When questioned about the 14th Amendment and how it covers equal rights, it was pointed out that the 14th covered discriminatory action but did not distinctly cover the equality of the sexes. Opponents of the ERA say the housewife will be forced away from the home to provide for the family. Among the fears engendered by the amendment are homosexual marriages, drafting of women, sexually integrated schools, loss of social security benefits and a type of reverse discrimination that allows only women to advance.

Supporters of the ERA say these things will not happen and the opponents are twisting the facts. They say it will not force the women away, but will allow her to seek out employment if she wants without discrimination. Benefits will not be lost; they will be extended to both sexes. As far as homo-sexual marriages go, it will be up to the state, just as it has always been. In the case of the draft, there has always been the ability of congress to draft women. Should such a draft law go into effect women will probably have to register and may be drafted as well, but deferments would be obtainable under hardship the same as men. The fears of sexually-integrated schools are unfounded because the right to privacy is also guaranteed in the constitution.

It is realized that there may be many questions about this Equal Rights Amendment and the Polar Star would appreciate inquiries into the subject. We will try to answer problems and we encourage students to write their legislators and congressmen to express their opinions on the subject.

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