My Visit to the State Capitol on International Women's Day.
By Maria S.
I was at the Minnesota State Capitol on March 8th, International Women’s Day, to rally and lobby for the Equal Rights Amendment. I happened to have a couple of minutes with my State Senator Mary Kiffmeyer. When I asked her if she would support ERA she said that she did not support it and would not vote for it. I was too shocked to even know what to say if she would have asked.
For those who do not know, the Equal Rights Amendment simply states, “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.” See below for a short history of the ERA. In Minnesota we are working on:
1. A vote to put the Equal Rights Amendment on the November ballot to be added to the Minnesota Constitution.
2. A vote to pass a resolution asking the federal congress to remove the time limit that was put on ratification to the US Constitution.
Senator Kiffmeyer does not agree this should happen. She said that things are getting better for women slowly and that, “It should bubble up from the bottom.” She used her own family as an example, how her grandmother, mother and sisters all worked hard and did well. We can appreciate that Senator Kiffmeyer her family have certainly worked hard and accomplished much to be proud of. However, every woman has a different set of circumstances and may not be able to overcome the obstacles in her way. Nor should any woman have to accept not having the same rights as men, earning less than a man for the same job, being charged more for insurance, etc. Senator Kiffmeyer has the opportunity to help other women and vote yes to amend the constitution so that women are not punished for simply being female. There is so much evidence that even today women have to work twice as hard as a man to get ahead.
We as women owe a debt to the women before us who in their fight for women’s suffrage marched and rallied, were beaten and imprisoned so we would have the right to vote. Other women before us fought against the odds and won elections to serve in the government that paved the way for Senator Kiffmeyer. Aren’t we charged with paying it forward to future generations of women to make the world a better, more fair place with equal rights for all citizens?
If you are a woman or a man who cares about the females in your life, your mother, wife, sister, daughter, girlfriend, or friend, know that Senator Kiffmeyer who should be working to make our lives better, protecting citizens and working to insure that all citizens are treated fairly will not support amending the constitution to insure that you or the women in your life have the same rights as men. But there are many women and men in this state and this country who are continuing to fight for passage of the Equal Rights Amendment. You can learn more about the ERA (www.eramn.org), watch the documentary “Equal Means Equal” (www.equalmeansequal.com), talk to your family and friends, contact your legislators and demand that they support the ERA and VOTE for the person who supports the things that are important to you. Then hold them responsible for what they say, how they behave and how they vote. Our lives are literally in their hands.
A short history: The ERA was first introduced in Congress by Alice Paul in 1923. It was finally passed by Congress in 1972 and sent to the states for ratification. Thirty-eight states were needed to ratify it to make it law, however a time limit of 1979, later extended to 1982, was placed on the ERA, only one of two amendments that has ever required a time limit. In 1973 Minnesota ratified the ERA but did not go through the process of adding it to the Minnesota Constitution. By 1982 only 35 states had ratified the amendment, 3 states short. For over 30 years the ERA was shelved, however there is a new movement to see it ratified. People across the US are calling for the removal of the 1982 deadline and push to get it ratified fully. This movement is having great success. In 2017 Nevada became the 36th state to ratify.
ERA Minnesota (ERAMN) is a coalition of individuals and organizations working to secure an Equal Rights Amendment to the State and Federal Constitutions.