Equal Rights Amendment

Transcription of Phyllis Schlafly’s Testimony

Before Arkansas State Agency & Governmental Affairs House Committee 

on ERA Bill, (HJR1002)February 7, 2007

(In less than ten minutes)

Schlafly Bio:  Phyllis Schlafly was recently named one of the one hundred most important women of the twentieth century by the Ladies’ Home Journal.  She is a Constitutional lawyer and  president of  Eagle Forum which has chapters in every state.  Her syndicated column appears in one hundred newspapers, her radio commentaries are heard daily on 460 stations, and her radio talk show, "Phyllis Schlafly Live" is heard weekly on forty stations. Schlafly is the author of twenty books and has testified before more than fifty Congresisonal and State Legislative committees.  The mother of six children, Mrs.Schlafly was the 1992 Illinois Mother of the Year. Friends and foes of  Schlafly give her credit for galvanizing the grassroots movement that defeated ERA in its ten-year battle from 1972to 1982 when Presidents of both parties and the media had all endorsed it.    [And all these feats were accomplished without an Equal Rights Amendment]

Transcription of Testimony:

Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee:  Thank you for allowing us to hear a non constituent.  I have a special place in my heart for Arkansas because my husband’s family owned the Mountain Valley Spring in Hot Springs from 1900 to 1987; and my husband brought me there on our honeymoon.  I still drink Moutain Valley water, now owned by Arkansas people, and it is the finest water in the world.  So thank you.

Now you have heard about an hour and half of advocacy for the Equal Rights Amendment; but I note that you didn’t hear about one single law, federal or state, that discriminates against women that this amendment will remedy.  I note that you didn’t hear a single benefit that women will get out of the Equal Rights Amendment.  This thing was debated for 10 years, from 1972 to 1982;  and it was rejected by fifteen states outright and five more that rescinded and changed their mind.

I think the main reason it was rescinded and rejected was that it is a fraud.  It pretends to help women, but it does nothing for women; and they are not able to show any benefit, any correction of law that the Equal Rights Amendment will do.  You know that the amendment does not put  women in the Constitution, and it does not put gender in the constitution.  It puts sex in the Constitution.  Now we are at the mercy of the judges. The Equal Rights Amendment does not say whether it is the sex you are or the sex you do.  We leave all those decisions up to the judges.

Now in looking for what the Equal Rights Amendment will do, I look to the best top authority on that subject.  And the leading lawyer in favor of the  Equal Rights Amendment  those years was Ruth Bader Ginsburg who is now on the United States  Supreme Court.  She wrote a book, a 230 page book, to tell exactly how the Equal Rights Amendment will affect federal law; and she is very explicit in it.  I think there probably  is no higher authority about what it will actually do. 

What it will do is make all our laws sex neutral.  Now we have the matter of the draft.  Now nobody denies that  if you have strict scrutiny you are going to have women not only subject to the draft, when and if there is a draft, but also subject to combat.  We know women are exempted from infantry combat and  submarines today.  Those differences are there.  Now a very powerful Democrat today, Congressman Charlie Rangel has got his bill to reinstate the draft; and, of course, it is sex neutral.  I am going to do everything I can to prevent his bill from passing.  But if it passed, there is no question about the effect of ERA.  It would treat women exactly the same as men, and women do not want to be treated the same as men in the military and in combat.

Now among other things that Ruth Bader Ginsburg says in this, and what she doesn’t say, is that it is going to have no effect on the Constitution itself because the Constitution  is already sex neutral.  The Constitution  does not say men are created equal.  That is in the Declaration of Independence. Fortunately you are not amending the Declaration of Independence.  We are talking about the Constitution. And the Constitution uses exclusively sex neutral terms, we the people, citizens, residents, inhabitants, president, ambassador, representative. Women have every Constitutional right that men have.

Also this book makes clear that it has nothing to do with employment.  It is not going to give women a raise or make them equal in the board rooms or in the legislatures because our employment laws are already sex neutral; and this book makes that clear.

However, there are some differences.  One of the differences is the effect it would  have on homemakers in this country.  One of the most offensive things that Ruth Bader Ginsburg says in this book is that the concept of  dependent wife must be eliminated from the code.  What does that mean?  The social security system rests on the concept of  the dependent wife.  I get my social security based on my husband’s income over the years, and I am sure that is true of many women here today.  Social security is a very pro-women institution because it gives the benefit to the dependent wife, the dependent wife  who is not, herself, in the workforce.  According to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, that is a concept that must be eliminated from the code under ERA.  This book was written to describe how ERA will affect federal laws.

And then she [Ruth Bader Ginsburg] goes into how it will change the words when  you say you can’t discriminate on account of sex.  She gives a whole list of words that will have to be changed.  And among the words that would have to be deleted from the federal code are husband and wife.  Now that is a direct attack on the Defense of Marriage Act, DOMA, which says that marriage is the union of a man and a woman as husband and wife.  Feminists don’t like that.  They want to put us into a sex neutral world, and it certainly  would have a direct effect on the Federal DOMA.

She [Ruth Bader Ginsburg]  makes very clear that the ERA would require treating sex like we treat race.  That is one of their arguments.  And it would require everything that is separated according to sex to be sex integrated.  Now,  she specifically says that this would include the Scouts.  It is discriminatory to have Girl Scouts and Boy  Scouts. They would have to be put together.   She says  fraternities and sororities would have to be combined.  She says even prisons would have to be sex integrated.

There are all kinds of mischief she [Ruth Bader Ginsburg] has in this book under her name, in a book published and paid for by the US government.  She makes arguments that I never dared to make, that it will wipe out the laws against prostitution and the laws against bigamy – that it would reduce the age of consent to 12;  She even goes after Mother’s Day because that would be sex discriminatory.

Of course, in the matter of marriage, it would open up the courts to all kinds of litigation by the gay rights movement which is working very hard on every type of  judge they can find to give them whatever they want to have.  Again, the Equal Rights Amendment  says you can’t discriminate on account of sex, and that is what you are talking about.  If you deny a marriage license to a man and a man, you have discriminated on account of sex. All of the highest legal authorities from Harvard and Yale have all said that the equal rights amendment would okay same sex marriage.

I was on the platform with the great Senator Sam Irvin, considered then the leading legal authority in the Senate, the great Watergate Senator, who said the only people who would profit by the Equal Rights Amendment would be the homosexuals; and you could have all kinds of litigation on that.

On the matter of abortion, we know that the New Mexico case is very clear.  The argument of the feminists is abortion is something that happens only to women;  therefore, if you deny any rights or any funding on abortion, you  have discriminated on account of sex within the meaning of the Equal Rights Amendment.   Now we do not have nineteen states with state ERA’s.  There are only six of the states that have ERA’s in the same language as the proposed federal ERA. One of those is New Mexico, and that is why New Mexico said that it is discrimination to deny funding for abortion in New Mexico. 

Another one of those states is Hawaii, which is where they okayed same sex marriage based on the state’s ERA.  Hawaii had to pass another Constitutional amendment saying in effect, "No, we didn’t mean that." 

So there are all kinds of problems that come along, and I think it would move the whole area of family law to the federal government because of Section II.  Section II says the Congress will have the power to enforce it by appropriate legislation and there are all kinds of family property laws, divorce, child custody, that would then become federal matters under the ERA.

This country wisely rejected it after long debate, and I think what it comes down to is how the judges interpret it.  And we have no confidence –  you asked for assurance of what the judges are going to do –  we don’t know what they are going to do.

But in any event, I think the country made a very good decision in voting it down in a ten-year battle that went on all across the country; and I hope that we a leave it decently buried.

Thank you Mr. Chairman, for listening.

Chairman – Thank you very much and without pausing said,   Seeing there are no questions (then goes to next witness)

The committee defeated the ERA bill by one vote, 10 to 10.  They needed 11 votes to get it out of committee.

This article can be read online at this link:  http://www.wpaag.org/ERA%20-%20Schlafly%20Testimony%20in%20AR%202-7-07.htm