Fabulous News! Progress toward equality just got a whole lot closer, with bipartisan co-sponsors having introduced ERA bills as “Day 1 Bills” in both the US House & the US Senate!
What this means is that these bills to remove the extra-textual time limit imposed on the ERA just became priority bills in both houses.
We now have a pro-equality President, a pro-equality US House, and a pro-equality US Senate. Equality of rights under the law I have never been closer.
Meanwhile, our primary push is to encourage the Biden Administration to pick up the phone and tell the Office of Legal Counsel to remove the previous Trump opinion that blocked the US Archivist from certifying the Equal Rights Amendment as the 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. And ERA Minnesota is on amicus briefs for two major lawsuits to end the blockade put up by the previous administration.
ST PAUL, July 2, 2020 – ERA Minnesota (ERAMN) is proud to join an amicus brief on behalf of a national coalition of over 50 women's rights organizations to impel the US Archivist to certify the now-ratified Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
This amicus brief was filed on behalf of ERA Coalition, a national coalition of 76 member organizations of which ERA Minnesota is a Lead Organization, advocating for state and federal constitutional amendments to guarantee equal rights regardless of sex. The amicus brief was created by a team at Winston & Strawn Law Firm in Chicago spearheaded by Linda Coberly, managing partner at the firm and Chair of ERA Coalition's Legal Task Force.
Now that the ERA has satisfied all constitutional requirements to formally ratify it into the US Constitution, this amicus brief argues that the arbitrary, extra-textual 7-year time frame imposed by Congress in 1972 should not prevent adoption as it does not have the power to alter provisions of the Constitution that govern amendments.
"Thank you to the Attorneys General of Nevada, Illinois, & Virginia for authoring this litigation to ensure that the ERA is acknowledged as the 28th Amendment to the US Constitution," said Heather Allison, President of ERA Minnesota “The ERA is the most logical step to forming a more perfect union by including all in the founding document of our country.”
“This litigation is supported by 23 Attorney’s General, major law firms, 93 major companies & corporations, and vast, diverse women’s rights organizations across the land,” said Betty Folliard, Founder of ERAMN; “and on the 100th Anniversary of women gaining the rights to vote, it’s high time to provide constitutional protections against sex discrimination.”
Here is a complete list of participants in this amicus brief:
What you can do...
Social distancing, distance learning, job loss, economic insecurity ~ these are just a few of the many issues that have become front and center while our world is rocked by the Coronavirus.
Women are more than 1/2 of the single parent wage earners, 2/3 of minimum wage earners, 2/3 of tip-workers and 2/3 of seniors living in poverty. Add to that women statistically having a longer life-expectancy and make up a higher number of the population living alone.
What does this mean in the time of a pandemic?
Women in this country statistically make up more than 90% of the nurses in our healthcare system, over 75% of caregivers in our homes and care facilities, as well as make up a significant percent of doctors. It means that women are at the forefront of the fight and are still not being treated equally under the law in terms of equitable pay, retirement benefits or receiving access to affordable healthcare and childcare.
While our state and national governments are working hard to fight COVID-19, we must remember those who are on the front lines of the war and support them with equal rights under the law.
What can you do to help the ERA?
Contact leadership in the Minnesota and US Senate and tell them to support passage of the Equal Rights Amendment into the US and Minnesota constitutions.
ACT NOW HERE
What can you do about the virus?
Follow the guidelines of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the MN Department of Health:
Additional Resources From Our Allies
Here are links to COVID-related resources as provided by some of ERA Minnesota's allies:
Governor Tim Walz & Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan:
Minnesota Association of Professional Employees (MAPE):
Keep an eye on our calendar for upcoming Virtual Third Thursday events:
Press Release from ERA Coalition.
For immediate release - January 15, 2020.
Richmond, VA – The ERA Coalition is celebrating an historic victory. The Equal Rights Amendment is about to clear its final Constitutional hurdle as Virginia becomes the 38th state to ratify it, now that both the Senate and the House of Delegates have passed identical bills to be formalized in an upcoming procedural vote. As we mark the 100th anniversary of American women winning the right to vote, we can also celebrate the success of the nearly 100 year-long quest for constitutional equality.
The ERA Coalition was formed in 2014 to work for constitutional equality. Our own polling shows that 94% of Americans support the ERA – and an unprecedented 99% of millennials support it. The message is clear: it is time for women to have equal rights in the Constitution. Women will no longer be subjected to second-class citizenship in the United States.
Despite this overwhelming support, some still seek to deny women equality. We will work closely with Congress to remove any ambiguity or obstacles that opponents argue remain in the way. The Coalition will also monitor the courts to stay current with any litigation concerning the Equal Rights Amendment. We will also continue to work with the 12 remaining unratified states in an effort to secure ratification of the ERA by all fifty states.
It’s an historic day in America. Virginia, with bipartisan support, has now pushed women around the country across the finish line toward equality and freedom from discrimination on account of sex.
This has been an incredible team effort beginning with the three women who co-founded the Coalition: co-president Jessica Neuwirth, Coalition Board Chair Maria Vullo, and Treasurer Liz Young. They have worked alongside our CEO and co-President Carol Jenkins and former chair of the ERA Coalition and current chair of our sister organization Fund for Women’s Equality Chair Marcy Syms. Our gratitude goes out to our amazing board, our D.C. Director Bettina Hager, our legal task force, and our lead organizations and supporters. We thank you all. Today is a day to celebrate.
#ERAMN officers Betty Folliard and Suzann Willhite, will join #VAratifyERA advocates, national affiliates Equal Means Equal & ERA Coalition, and activists from across the country in Richmond, Virginia to help bend the arc of history toward justice and equality in America.
Virginia is the only state in the Confederate South to have voted in a liberal legislature, and now lawsuits are flying into the federal courts on both sides of the argument to determine whether or not to void the artificial deadline that was imposed on the ERA.
“The closer we get to achieving justice & equal rights for women, the more the pushback. Now the Trump* Administration’s Department of Justice has weighed in, issuing an opinion that the ERA deadline is passed. That’s their opinion and their opinion is not binding either in Congress or in the courts,” said Ms. Folliard. “We’re going to Virginia to declare otherwise, because you can’t put a time limit on human rights.”
“Congress changed the deadline once already and they have the power to do so again,” said Heather Allison, President of ERAMN. “We have legislation to that affect in both houses of Congress, and in the US House a majority of members are co-sponsors of our bill.”
This is an historic year, representing the 100th Anniversary of women’s right to vote, and women’s rights activists intend to complete the unfinished business of the Suffragists, to pass the ERA.
“The unfinished business is to finally include women in the foundational document of this country – the US Constitution,” said Suzann Willhite, ERAMN Secretary. “Let us in.”
There being 21 Ayes & 11 No’s, the US House Judiciary Committee just passed #HJRes79- the bill to #DeleteTheDeadline on the #EqualRightsAmendment #ERA!
The US House Committee on the Judiciary met Wednesday, November 13, 2019 to discuss House Judicary Resolution 79: Removing the deadline for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA)
Chairman Nadler's opening statement included:
"H.J. Res. 79, introduced by Representative Jackie Speier with 217 co-sponsors, would ensure that the Equal Rights Amendment, or "ERA," can become part of our Constitution if and when a sufficient number of states ratify it. Specifically, this short and straightforward measure provides that notwithstanding the ratification deadline that Congress set for the ERA in 1972, and extended in 1978, the ERA "shall be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the Constitution whenever ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States." [read the whole statement/press release]
Thank you, #ChairmanNadler.
Video Coverage of the hearing:
Here is the full coverage of the hearing. It should start at the beginning, but if not:
The hearing begins at 50:33 and ends at 2:12:29.
FYI: This resolution would still have to pass through a US Senate committee and then pass through both Chambers, in exactly the same form, and signed by the President (or, re-passed in override of a presidential veto; or, remain unsigned for ten days while Congress is in session) to become a law.
Call Nancy Pelosi (Speaker of the House) NOW and demand a full House vote on HJRes79!
CA tel: (415) 556-4862
DC tel: (202) 225-4965
Virginia voters made it happen! Democrats flipped the house and senate and have control of state government for the first time in a generation. They have elected candidates who can ratify the Equal Rights Amendment.
Phase 2 of the fight begins -- all legislators must be contacted and encouraged to vote to ratify the ERA for the good of the country. Virginia will be the 38th state and with that comes RATIFICATION!
Read a full article from the Washington Post
Week Five Report – Strengthening Momentum for ERA Ratification in Virginia
By Kamala, Natalie & the Equal Means Equal Team
Since our Week Two Report on September 26th, EQUAL MEANS EQUAL has been on the ground doing educational outreach in the communities in and around south/central Virginia. The local news caught our visit to Hampton University, a HBCU (Historically Black College or University).
[Read More] see the full posting at Equal Means Equal blog
Note: If Virginia ratifies the National ERA we will have reached the critical 38 states to have a National Equal Rights Amendment!
ERAMN Federal Update by Betty Folliard 9.11.19
What: ERAMN will be hosting a good old fashioned Summer Social with a potluck buffet, root beer floats, an outdoor screening of the short film "Legalize Equality", and a bonfire!
Why: In celebration of the 100th anniversary of Minnesota Suffrage Day (women getting the right to vote), and a look at the work still to be done.
Where: 2150 Mailand Road E, St. Paul, MN 55119. (Note: It's a one-acre property at the end of a narrow dead-end dirt road. Look for parking signs before you arrive and then walk to the end of the road.)
Time: 6 - 9 pm. Screening around 7:45 ish. Bonfire to follow.
Food Note: We'll supply the hot dogs (all beef and veggie), condiments, chips and a keg of root beer - feel free to bring a side or dessert to share - or your own beverage if root beer isn't your thing :-) !
Cost: FREE -- but donations are always welcome!
RSVPs are appreciated (for food planning) so click HERE to let us know you're coming!
ERA MN President Emeritus Betty Folliard presented the Plenary Speech at the National NOW Conference.
You can view the view the opening presentation on the National Organization for Women's facebook page. Look for Betty's ERAMN Plenary Speech from 25:34 to 38:43.
Betty Folliard, Rep. Rena Moran and Patty Mac also presented a workshop on how a ratified state supports the National ERA effort and how a state without an ERA is working to get one in their Minnesota state constitution.
ERAMN National NOW Workshop Is Just Days Away!
The first workshop to be offered at the National NOW Convention in Bloomington this Friday is presented by ERA Minnesota!
Check it our here: https://now.org/conference/workshops/; then be sure to get registered here: https://now.org/conference/. Hope to see you there!
ERAMN Workshop, & Plenary at the National NOW Conference in Bloomington July 19-21
We’re thrilled to announce that ERA Minnesota (ERAMN) will have a strong presence at the National NOW Conference which is coming here on Friday July 19-21.
Join us there by registering HERE: https://now.org/conference/
On Friday 7/19, at 10:45 AM, ERAMN will have our "ERA 2020: The Minnesota Model” Workshop presented by ERA federal legislation chief author Rep. Rena Moran, and ERAMN’s Betty Folliard & Patty McDonald.
The Topic: What can a ratified state do to take the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) over the Finish Line? And what actions can a state without a state ERA do to advance the ERA?ERA Minnesota (ERAMN) aims to “Educate, Agitate & Activate” a sleeping electorate to finally pass the ERA. Because our greatest barrier to ratifying the ERA is education, we’ve devised a two-pronged approach aimed at garnering state & federal ERA’s to finally achieve the goal of legalizing equality. Minnesota state ERA approach embraces intersectional language to ensure inclusivity of ALL into our state constitution; and we composed a Resolution to Congress to “Delete the Deadline” on the ERA that directly aligns with ERA bills in Congress. This workshop will provide cutting-edge multi-media illustrations & specific actions to advance both state & federal ERA’s – through the use of billboards, city & county resolutions, print/media coverage, focus ads, targeted districts, house parties, etc. - to roust the sleeping public. It is designed to motivate and to encourage cross-pollination of ideas so together we will make equal legal in 2020.
On Saturday 7/20, ERAMN President Emeritus Betty Folliard will give her Plenary speech to the conference on ERA entitled”Bold Vision: ERA2020”.
ERAMN will also be tabling on all three days, so if you’d like to volunteer, send us an email at email@example.com.
ERAMN on MPR Tomorrow at 11!
ERAMN Founder Betty Folliard & Representative Kaohly Her will be on MPR News with Angela Davis tomorrow - TUESDAY, July 2 - at 11 AM talking about the #EqualRightsAmendment.
To join the #ERA discussion. Call in to 651-227-6000.
7/3/19 UPDATE: Hear the recorded show HERE.
The US House Judiciary Chair Jerrold Nadler has called the first official hearing in the House Judiciary Committee on the Equal Rights Amendment- HJRes38 (which corresponds to Rena Moran's HF71) to be held on Tuesday, April 30th.
This is the 1st time in 36 years that the ERA will be discussed in Congress! And we look forward to the MN House airing of Rena's bill.
ACTION ALERT: 1-MINUTE EFFORT
Click below to send a clear message to your US Senators & Congress Member to sign onto #ERA ”Delete the Deadline” Resolutions‼️
SJRes6: Sponsor Senator Cardin seems to be taking a balanced approach to co-sponsors. So far there’s himself (D), 2 R’s, & 1 I on the bill. Both Klobuchar & Smith signed on last Session, and should get on this year.
H.J.Res.38: Here in MN, thus far only Craig, Omar & McCollum are signed on. There are a record 182 Co-sponsors on the bill❣️
Let’s give ‘em a nudge.
Go HERE to send your message now!
PRESS RELEASE from the Senate DFL Caucus
Committee to Review Bills Barred from Senate Hearings
Sen. Little to Chair; Sen. Franzen, Vice Chair;
St. Paul, MN –
“These bills could save many lives and tax dollars,” Sen. Little (DFL-Lakeville) previewed, “But they haven’t been given a single senate hearing. Our democracy isn’t supposed to work this way- it’s the worst kind of partisanship.” The fictitious ‘Senate Committee on Banned Bills’ will hold a very real hearing on April 1stat 9:00am in 1100 Minnesota Senate Building to review a variety of legislation that have been refused committee hearings in the senate. This committee hearing will be open to the public and people are encouraged to attend.
“These bills have huge public support and are common sense ideas,” Sen. Little continued, “They’ve been banned for completely crass partisan reasons; because they are targeting certain seats, and don’t want to give certain people any achievements to campaign with. But the senate can’t make good decisions if major options aren’t even on the table. Partisan games like this are rigging our democracy, and blocking bills that voters really want.”
The Senate Committee on Banned Bills (COBB) is slated to review the proposed bills, take testimony from citizens and expert witnesses, and debate the merits of each policy. A wide array of bills will be introduced during the hearing, including legislation dealing with paid family medical leave, gun safety, and the health care provider tax [agenda and complete list of members and bills below].
Until late yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka had declared that he would “do everything in his power” to prevent new gun legislation. Early this morning the Star Tribune reported that Leader Gazelka had changed position and agreed to allow a hearing on certain gun safety measures if the house passed the same bills first.
“I am encouraged by Sen. Gazelka’s apparent willingness to hear my background check and red flag bills,” Sen. Latz (DFL-St. Louis Park) commented, “But his announcement comes only two days before the committee deadline. As of yet, these hearings have not been scheduled, so this April first hearing will make sure that the views of the majority of Minnesotans are heard in the Senate.”
“Reforms like universal background checks are supported by over 87% of all Minnesota gun owners,” Sen. Latz noted, “These issues deserve to be heard in the senate.”
For other senators, their motivations center around key issues, such as restoring the rights of felons after they have completed their sentences. “Restoring voting rights after people have done their time just makes sense,” Sen. Champion (DFL-Minneapolis) explained, “How can you expect people to feel they have a chance in life if we keep them on the outside forever? Restoring their right to vote isn’t enough, but it’s an important step toward making them a productive, whole person again, after they’re released. That would be life changing for thousands of people.”
For Sen. Susan Kent (DFL-Woodbury), Paid Family and Medical Leave is a test of Minnesota’s moral compass, “Whether we assist or abandon families during a medical crisis says a lot about who we are as a society. Forcing people to choose between a day’s pay or caring for a dying parent is a moral failure for Minnesota. The public is overwhelmingly behind paid family and medical leave. And many businesses want it because they can’t provide paid leave if their competitors don’t have to provide it too. If businesses and families want paid medical leave, why won’t the senate even give this bill a hearing? It’s a disgrace.”
All the senate members of the Committee on Banned Bills share the view that the normal democratic process requires hearings on all major options. “We are not talking about small, obscure, radical bills here,” Sen. Franzen (DFL-Edina) noted, “These are consensus policies on major issues. These proposals deserve a hearing, and most importantly, the citizens who have poured their energy into these bills deserve to be heard.”
The fate of these bills will be uncertain even after the Committee on Banned Bills hears them. “We hope this hearing puts pressure on committee chairs to hear these bills,” Sen. Little noted, “But either way, we want voters to know about these crucial issues so they can make up their own minds. We can’t let crass partisanship prevent voters from learning about key issues.”
Sen. Little believes advocates for these issues have been left with no alternative, “If the committee chairs won’t do the right thing, then we have to. They’ve left millions of Minnesotans with no voice and no hope on some of the biggest issues facing families today.”
Senate Committee on Banned Bills Agenda for Monday, April 1:
Senator Matt Little represents Senate District 58, which covers Lakeville, Farmington, a small slice of Northfield and more than a dozen townships and small communities including Empire, Vermillion, New Trier and Douglas.
Learn more about Sen. Little.
This has been a banner month for the federal Equal Rights Amendment: 18 more House members have signed on to H.J.Res.38 to remove the deadline on the federal ERA, bringing the total number of supporters to 174.
Also, since the February introduction, two more Senators signed on to S.J.Res 6, the companion bill. In the Senate, what’s extraordinary about S.J.Res.6 is that two of its co-sponsors, Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) & Susan Collins (R-ME) are Republicans, thus cutting from 4 to 2 the number of Republicans who still need to be persuaded to support the measure if all 45 Senate Democrats and 2 Senate Independents vote to pass it. All this has occurred though it's still early days in the new Congress, and the big push to garner co-authors in the Senate has not even begun yet.
Since the US House has a good majority of Democrats, and Democrats have supported the ERA for the past 75 years, H.J.Res.38 is bound to pass. And the chair of the US House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, Congressman Jerry Nadler, has promised a hearing in the US House soon where it will be passed and sent to the floor. That will enable Speaker Pelosi to bring the “DELETE THE DEADLINE” Resolution to the House Floor for passage, where it will pass.
As in Minnesota for the state ERA, the US Senate is the bottleneck; but if just 2 more Republican members sponsor it and the US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell allows it through (that’s a BIG IF), then the deadline can be removed and the federal ERA ratified.
Please call members of the MN Delegation not yet on the House or Senate bill and ask that they sign on to S.J.Res.38 & H.J.Res.6. Thank you!
Smith (202) 224-5641
Klobuchar (202) 224-3244
Phillips (202) 225-2871
Hagedorn (202) 225-2472
Stauber (202) 225-6211
Emmer (202) 225-2331
Peterson (202) 225-2165
ERA Minnesota (ERA MN) is asking people throughout Minnesota to create short videos to help spread the word on social media why they support the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA).
Whenever ERA MN talks to people around Minnesota, whether it’s up on the Range, down in southern Minnesota, or in the Twin Cities they tell us how much they want to live in a state that embraces gender equality.
ERA MN has been advocating for legislation at the State Capital that would put the amendment on the ballot in 2020, providing Minnesotans with a chance to vote on whether or not they want a state that embraces equality.
The amendment would add “Equality under the law shall not be abridged or denied on account of gender” to Minnesota’s Constitution.
The video project is a way for everyday Minnesotans to tell each other why the amendment matters to them and that equality should be a core value for all Minnesotans.
Making an Impact for Equality
ERA MN is asking people to create short 30 to 60 second videos featuring themselves or people they know talking about why the ERA matters to them.
People should post their videos on their favorite social media channels using the hashtags #ERAmn & #14WordsForEquality. ERA MN will share the best user videos across the organization's social media and website (www.ERAmn.org).
A few ideas ERA MN is trying to emphasize are:
If you’re not sure what to say in a longer video, or just like being on camera, get a group of friends together and record a short video using one of the blurbs below:
Tips for Great Videos
Here are a few tips for making a great video:
Here are a few filming tips:
In addition to asking people to create their own videos, ERA Minnesota is producing some longer videos featuring Minnesotan’s from all walks of life talking about why the ERA matters to them. Like the one of Trista M - below. Those videos can be seen on the organization’s YouTube channel. Select videos will also be on our ERA YES Video page.
Questions about the project should be directed to Heather Allison.
Blog post by Mark Hinds
ERA video of Trista MatasCastilla on why the ERA is important to her.
Next Friday, March 8th, ERA Minnesota announces our celebration of International Women’s Day #IWD2019 by hosting the 3rd Annual ERA Rally at the Minnesota Capitol Rotunda. The event will feature Governor Tim Walz and Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan along with top legislative leaders and ERA supporters, to spotlight the urgent need for an Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) in our state and federal constitutions.
Legislative leaders and thousands of activists from across the state are pushing to pass two initiatives currently in the Minnesota House & Senate: HF13 (Kunesh-Podein)/SF200 (Cohen) - a Minnesota ERA to the state constitution providing for gender equality under the law and proposing a constitutional amendment that will be added to the ballot in the 2020 general election for voters to decide; and HF71 (Moran)/SF208 (Pappas) - a resolution memorializing Congress to remove the words “June 30th 1982” that comprised the deadline imposed on the ERA federal legislation so the ERA it can be added to the U.S. Constitution when ratified by the last state.
The Minnesota House is poised to pass both bills in the coming week. All attention and energies will then pivot to the Minnesota Senate to give the bills full and fair hearings to pass the ERA.
WHAT: ERA Lobby Day & Rally at the Capitol
WHEN: Friday, March 8th, 9:00 am - 12:00 pm, Rally at 10:00 AM
(Lobby your senator before and after the Rally)
WHERE: Minnesota State Capitol Rotunda
HOSTED BY: ERA Minnesota
ERA Bill Numbers: HF13/SF200; and HF71/SF208.
By: Kevin Featherly | Minnesota Lawyer February 7, 2019
Two bills pushing women’s Equal Rights Amendments in both the state and U.S. constitutions are on the march in the Minnesota House.
Both face skepticism from GOP lawmakers and a few constitutional experts, but for now they are on an upward trajectory.
House File 13 comes from Rep. Mary Kunesh-Podein, DFL-New Brighton. It has 26 DFL co-sponsors and cleared a committee hurdle on Jan. 24, when it passed out of House Government Operations with a unanimous voice vote. It is scheduled for a hearing at State Government Finance Feb. 7.
In an interview, Kunesh-Podein said her ERA bill is a mirror image of the 1970s-vintage federal ERA amendment, which fell three states short of ratification at the time of its final 1982 deadline.
The other Minnesota House bill, House File 71 from Rep. Rena Moran, DFL-St. Paul, is a resolution asking Congress to eliminate that deadline and kick-start passage of the federal ERA. Moran’s bill went directly from Government Operations to the general register, to await a still-unscheduled House floor vote.
Kunesh-Podein’s bill would place on Minnesota’s 2020 election ballot a constitutional amendment stating that women and men have equal rights under the law. If passed, it would go into effect in January 2021.
“Under this legislative majority and with the awareness of gender inequity, now is the time to do this and get it done,” Kunesh-Podein said in an interview.
The Jan. 24 vote moved her bill to Ways and Means, and from there to the Feb. 7 State Government Finance hearing. But its unanimity might be slightly misleading. The Jan. 24 vote came after the rejection of a GOP amendment, which aimed to prevent a state ERA from being used to fuel legal challenges to anti-abortion state statutes.
“In the broad scope of your bill and your push, I fully support it,” said Rep. Nick Zerwas, R-Elk River, who first offered then withdrew the amendment. “My concern is as a Catholic pro-lifer who doesn’t want to support something that, down the road, is used to justify expansion of abortion access in Minnesota.”
At a Jan. 24 House State Government Operations hearing, MCCL Legislative Director Andrea Rau expresses opposition to a state Equal Rights Amendment bill. The legislation’s author, Rep. Mary Kunesh-Podein, DFL-New Brighton, sits to her left. (Staff photo: Kevin Featherly)
Andrea Rau, legislative director for the anti-abortion group MCCL, asserted that her group’s members are strong on women’s rights. “However, equal rights amendments have a history of discriminating against less developed humans—those yet to be born,” she said.
Rau cited a recent Pennsylvania lawsuit in which abortion-rights advocates used the state’s ERA to justify a constitutional challenge against a ban on state-financed abortions. “Attempts to invalidate pro-life laws continue based on ERAs,” Rau said.
David Schultz, the Hamline University political science professor, said Republicans might have a point. He noted that in 1979, future U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg argued that reproductive rights should be guaranteed by the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution, rather than a judicially constructed right to privacy.
An ERA would raise gender to a protected status equivalent to race, which conceivably could make it a powerful constitutional tool for abortion-rights proponents, Schultz said.
“I think that Republicans rightly perceive that’s part of what the agenda is,” he said.
Kunesh-Podein, however, told lawmakers that her bill has nothing to do with abortion rights. She declined to accept the Zerwas amendment, she said, to keep it “a clean bill.”
In the interview, Kunesh-Podein said the Zerwas amendment, had it passed, would have been fatal to her bill. “We would have had to kill the bill right here because we can’t let that go forward with that amendment on there,” she said.
Though it likely won’t stop anything, the Zerwas amendment likely is not dead. “I think there will be robust discussion on the floor about the amendment,” he told committee members on Jan. 24.
Taken in isolation, of course, little of that matters. House Democrats have a 75-59 majority and can pass pretty much any bill that suits their mood. But House Republican opposition appears to be reflected in the Senate, where it matters a great deal.
Sen. Warren Limmer, R-Maple Grove, is chair of the Senate Judiciary committee, through which both of the DFL House bills’ companions would have to pass.
In a brief interview on Wednesday afternoon, he said neither bill is scheduled to be heard in his committee. He said he plans to leave it up to Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa, to decide whether they should move forward in his committee.
But even lacking a Senate hearing and testimony, there already are signals that Senate Republicans share their House counterparts’ concerns.
Senate File 200, from Sen. Dick Cohen, DFL-St Paul, is the companion to the Kunesh-Podein bill. It once had three Republican sponsors — Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Vernon Center; Sen. Carla Nelson, R-Rochester; and Sen. Scott Jensen, R-Chaska. All have since had their names stricken from that bill.
The same is true for the Moran bill’s Senate companion, Senate File 208 from Sen. Sandy Pappas, DFL-St. Paul. It also boasted three GOP co-sponsors. As of Jan. 22, all had their names removed.
“That might have been some strong influence from MCCL,” Kunesh-Podein said when asked about the Senate defections.
Both bills also have many supporters. At the Jan. 24 Government Operations hearing, for instance, so many supportive testifiers were present that not all could be heard.
Lisa Stratton, former University of Minnesota law school instructor and co-founder of the nonprofit Gender Justice, was among them. “This standard would simply place gender equality on the same footing as racial and religious equality,” she testified.
She quoted the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who in 2011 said that while the U.S. constitution does not require discrimination against women, neither does it prohibit discrimination.
“Enshrining the basic principle of gender equality in the Minnesota Constitution,” she said, “would make it clear that the citizens of this state expect its courts to apply a very high level of scrutiny to laws that create or reinforce gender disparities.”
Stratton added: “It would make it clear that such laws have to be justified by a compelling state interest.”
Abortion is not the only cause for skepticism about the bills. Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, in a Jan. 25 interview, said the ERA is constitutionally superfluous. “The 14th Amendment covers this, period,” he said. “It’s already in law. It’s already in the Constitution.”
Mary Jane Morrison, a Minnesota Constitution expert and retired academic, wonders whether a constitutional amendment is the right answer to the problems supporters want solved.
Various testifiers suggested that a state ERA would enshrine women’s equality in state law, helping to curb gender wage disparities, lessen the double whammy of racial and gender discrimination faced by women of color and help prevent domestic abuse, among other issues.
Morrison said that while all those problems are real and serious, their root causes are not totally clear. Without having a firm grasp on causation, she said, a constitutional amendment may be the wrong remedy — because it is not certain what it would solve.
Morrison makes no firm stance against enshrining the ERA into the state constitution. She is just not sure it is the right answer — at least not yet.
“If we have already exhausted the non-constitutional efforts to solve the problems, then I am ready for a constitutional clause that has teeth in it — with a department behind it that is charged with enforcement,” Morrison said.
However, she added, “My general view is that the constitution needs to be the place of last resort, after we found out that we have no legislative and cultural means of solving the problem.”
This is an interesting and eye opening article from the PEW Research Center about women paying more for auto insurance -- and no one is telling why.
STATELINE ARTICLE: PEW February 11, 2019
By: Elaine S. Povich Topics: Demographics & Transportation Read time: 6 min
It’s a widespread belief that men pay more for automobile insurance than women. But that’s only true for young adults.
Several studies in 2018 and 2017 revealed that women over 25, particularly those between 40 and 60, often pay more than men — not less — for auto insurance, all other rating criteria being equal. Now, California has become the latest in a handful of states that have outlawed setting rates for automobile insurance based on gender.
[Read the whole article]
ERA Minnesota (ERAMN) is a coalition of individuals and organizations working to secure an Equal Rights Amendment to the State and Federal Constitutions.