Virginia Lawmakers Renew National Debate Over ERA

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Martin in Virginia this week state lawmakers are set to take a series of important votes on the equal rights amendment thirty eight states are needed to ratify it and Virginia with these folks would be the thirty eighth that's likely to spark legal battles over whether the ERA is still viable and a renewed national debate over the proposed constitutional amendment which would forbid discrimination based on sex it's a fight that stretches back decades and a generation of women who long ago battled on either side of the issue are watching and fighting again and pure Serra McCammon spoke with several of them Andrea Miller first heard about the equal rights amendment from her mother it basically went I'm very interested and the equal rights amendment I disagree with it a little I think women are superior to men but we'll settle for being a call that would be what what my mother told me there was an eighth grader in the Chicago suburbs in the late nineteen sixties her mom owned a business delivering mail door to door and they used to drum up support for the ERA so what we did was we took our little ERA wires and stuck them in the bag of junk mail a few years later and Schlafly Cory was also learning about the issue from her mom the weight Phyllis Schlafly the ERA's most prominent opponent the telephone rang day and evening with calls and questions from supporters and from reporters on ERA with Shaq constant in my childhood now sixty five and living in Saint Louis Schlafly Corey has continued her mother's work promoting conservative causes she fears the ERA would make it harder to restrict abortion even if the US Supreme Court eventually overturns the nineteen seventy three roe V. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide I think there are a lot of concerns about ERA have not changed in the nineteen seventies to today because the the end result ERA is to make men and women and interchangeable in every situation that's a problem Schlafly Cory says because there are biological differences between men and women that sometimes require differences in the law at least folk of stop ERA Illinois it warns of an end to separate prison facilities for female inmates or that women could be forced into a military draft book says she's oppose the equal rights amendment since she was a teenager in the nineteen seventies she believes many women who support it don't understand it it's very emotional for them they're very attached to it from the seventies they believe that going to be the cure all for all their problems and what they don't understand is it's really not going to add any benefit to them it's only going to add harm for Donna grant ski a seventy three year old activist and retired teacher from Midlothian Virginia the upcoming vote in the state legislature is a historic moment she remembers coming to the Virginia can capital in the nineteen seventies lining a walkway holding candles to show support for the ERA and yes she says it is an emotional moment I may get teary eyed now it means that my country looks at else the same way it looks at mail it means that my granddaughters can pick up a copy of the United States constitution and see that they are in trying to even assuming that Virginia ratifies the equal rights amendment this week it faces an uncertain future the justice department has issued an opinion saying that the deadline for the E. R. A. to be added to the constitution has expired if that stands it could mean another round of debate over the amendment in state houses nationwide there macam and NPR news Virginia

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