Why ERA is Important to Me

2021 could be the year that women’s rights are secured in the U.S. Constitution – just 245 years after white men. The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) is positioned to be the 28th amendment once either the Senate removes the deadline from the 1972 resolution OR the Department of Justice instructs the US Archivist to add it. The threshold of 38 states ratifying it happened in 2020 but it has been held up due to some technicalities. YOU can help promote awareness and action on the ERA. 

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My mom was and still is my inspiration

My mom, Vera Moritz, was and still is my inspiration for being a strong, politically active woman and fighter of the ratification of The Equal Rights Amendment. She was a patron and advocate of Planned Parenthood, worked tirelessly for the success of Title IX, and was a life-long campaigning Democrat and social activist. Thank you, Mom! She would be astounded that in 2021, we are still fighting for ratification. My mom also had a healthy distain for, “that woman””, conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly and would turn her head whenever she was on tv. (Mom did the same for Reagan, and the Bushes) Schlafly, who led the STOP ERA campaign, was convinced that the amendment would lead to gender-neutral bathrooms, same-sex marriage, and women in military combat, among other things. Well, Phyllis, these things and more have arrived without the ERA in place. So, your side has lost on those fronts. The time is long overdue for ratification of the ERA, and for women to occupy seats in all levels of our government and business, and to take our rightful places in the decision-making of society. We are the majority of the population, we are the guardians of the future generations, we are the heartbeat of the planet. We the People, need Constitutionally guaranteed protection for gender equity within all realms of society and recourse for the unfair laws and regulations that are interpreted against our best interests because we are women. My name is Christine Moritz, I vote in Colorado and live in Germany and Egypt.


In holding, I am held

As a child I knew that the ERA existed, and that its existence would matter. My country would care – about me. My country has a powerful and beautiful constitution, but for centuries, even this precious constitution did not actually protect the rights of women in their everyday – ordinary, simple, basic - pursuits of life, liberty and happiness. I have three sisters, five nieces and innumerable beloved women friends. The changes we could enjoy will take new awareness, advanced thought, and exceptional government.

As a little girl, I knew that the ERA existed, and that it would be good. It should be noted for both sides of this question that the full ratification of the amendment will not necessarily have a direct impact on existing laws, statutes, or lives. But its existence alone would be, for me, as essential and profound as the constitution itself. It is something we could hold onto, have faith in, and something to be proud of.  Carolyn, living in Germany, voting in Pennsylvania


Still Waiting...

I'm 63 years old. I've been waiting for this since the '70s. Let's hope these 24 words finally change the world for the better--and for all of us.  Votes in Minnesota, Lives in France


Remembering Lisa

An exceptionally gifted woman, extremely intelligent and cultured sadly is no longer with us. Lisa Marini Finerty was our beloved and never forgotten Democrats Abroad Rome Chapter Chair back in 2008 during the Obama's candidacy and she energized us members with an uncommon vitality and drive to make sure most Americans living in Rome were eligible to vote and thanks to her she would be able to make sure to gather an enormous amount of votes for Obama from Rome. This is what happened back then: One morning I was on my computer when I got an email from her that linked to a video of La Repubblica daily online (center-left leaning), where she was due to debate the upcoming presidential election moderated by an Italian-American journalist against her Republicans Abroad opposite, a rather powerful executive been living in Rome for many years and evidently bilingual. The email's text was more or less like: "this is the debate I'm having with Republicans Abroad rep. in Rome: Tell me how I am doing". So, I opened it and unfortunately she did not very well, insisting on debating in Italian and the confrontation was embarrassingly unequal and thanks to the moderator that avoided total disaster. I felt so sorry for her and did not have the courage to tell her her linguistic debacle given also that in a rather short time a very important event was scheduled in a theater near Termini train station here in Rome, and she was designed to be the keynote speaker on an evening promoting Obama's candidacy before an audience of all the most important political left-leaning big shots in Rome as well as our Democrat Abroad members; even Rome's mayor was there, a left-leaning former journalist and one of the founders of the Italian Democratic Party. Full house. The theater was packed. I was so puzzled by her choice to still insisting delivering the speech in Italian mindful of what happened on that video a while back. When her turn was on I was sweating all over and basically holding my breath: She did marvelously, she delivered a brilliant speech in perfect Italian, and I was so amazed I could not believe my ears. How on earth she progressed from a very poor performance to a perfect one in such a short time, I will never know let alone I would not be able to speak before a huge crowd myself. She brought the house down and I was so proud of her being our Chair then. Thank you Lisa. Democrats Abroad Rome member voting in California.


Can't believe I am going to be 60 and the ERA has yet to be passed.

Yes, it's true, 60 is just around the corner for me and I remember, like others who grew up in the 70s, all the talk of the ERA. Frankly, it's an embarassment to the United States government that the ERA has, in 2021, yet to become enshrined in our constitution. Women absolutely deserve this right alongside their male counterparts, hands down. I support and demand that women have this right already as a man who has been shaped and influenced by strong, caring women from my family through to my education in public schools, to my working career. Women have been influencing me my whole life; in first job, my female boss taught me well. In my second job, there was the female mentor molding and shaping me for what turned out to be quite a good career in banking. I was always open to female leadership and guidance having grown up in a household of women only. And many of my best friends in life have been strong women from all walks of life. In this year of the pandemic and almost a quarter into the 21st century, I find it sad and discouraging that American women still do not enjoy the same rights as I as a man. The ERA must become a part of the Constitution giving them the absolute same and unquestionable rights as their male counterparts. American living in Spain and voting in New York.


High Time for Equality! Half of all Americans has been waiting for centuries!!

I was shocked to read that men of any race were constitutionally given the vote over 50 years before women of any race could hope to exercise this fundamental democratic right. In 1867 the 15th Amendment, stated that voting rights could not be “denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” whereas these rights were still denied to all women till 1920. My mother told me "There will be a black man as president long before we have a woman president" Women still earn considerably less than men for the same job in countries all over the world. It is embarassing and indeed shameful for me as an American to have to explain why American women - even now in the 21st century - still do not have equal rights. How can a country which should stand for "liberty and justice for all" still deny half of its citizens equality? And rank behind a dozen other countries in equal rights? I have to ask what happened to our ideals and which century we are living in! Let us pass the ERA and finally grant American rights to all Americans!   Live in Germany, Vote in California


Scientists: Can't live with them, can't live without them

My job as a research scientist studying earthquakes and volcanoes occasionally took me to Washington, DC. I took advantage of a couple of these trips to take my kids to see the nation's capital, both my daughter and her younger brother at different times.

My daughter came with me when I went to DC as a member of a National Academy of Sciences review panel. Between panel meetings my daughter and I did most of the typical tourist things available in DC, visiting the Mall, museums and memorials. As a Vietnam era draftee and Vietnam veteran, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is always both difficult to visit and impossible to avoid on trips to Washington. But my daughter tells me we didn't visit it that trip.

One evening, maybe at the end of the panel deliberations, the NAS treated all the panelists to dinner at a fancy restaurant. My daughter came with me. She may have been the only female at the table. I believe all of the panelists were white males. I just did a brief search to see what fraction of the geoscience faculty is female. The most recent data I found was 10 years old, and at that time women constituted only 20% of the faculty positions in geoscience. This panel did not meet even that low threshold.

After dinner my daughter commented to me on how unpleasant the company was. The conversation was dominated by various scientists trying to one-up each other with how accomplished and clever they were. Having worked and lived in that world for years, I think I was desensitized, used to it, and assuming that was just how people interacted. Seeing it through my daughter's eyes gave me a whole new perspective on male behavior. Her comment when reading a preview of this story:

"I will say that that situation gave me a preview of what it's like to be the only woman at the table and probably helped me to make my way in science and speak my mind on issues I feel strongly about no matter who is in the room."

In spite of her experience with scientists during that dinner, my daughter later went on to earn a PhD of her own in chemistry, before moving on from science.

The funniest incident of the trip occurred when we checked into our hotel the first day. The desk clerk looked at our names on the register and said: "Oh, it's Bill and Hillary". My daughter's name is Hillary and mine is William. Although I have never used the nickname Bill, it was still amusing. Our trip occurred during the Clintons' tour in the White House, obviously.

When I last lived in the US, it was in Colorado and I still vote there. My daughter lives in Germany and votes in California.


Take your feet off my neck

I am a NJ voter living overseas in Israel. I have been fighting for the ERA since I was a child with my mom in the 1960s and 1970s. I can’t believe it is 2021 and my mom has been gone for 9, almost 10 years and I’m still fighting for the ERA. It is so basic and elementary as Ruth Bader Ginsburg taught at Rutgers and to the Supreme Court. “I ask no favors for my sex. All I ask of our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks.” It is nigh time to see the ERA ratified so that we don’t have to keep fighting for the same thing for so many years and can finally be treated equally before the law.


"With liberty and justice for all"

Because I have worked in schools most of my life, I have heard that phrase in the Pledge of Allegiance almost every day. Each time I have thought about the ERA. It was important to me in the 70s and my country failed me. It is just as important now. You, the Senate, have the opportunity to show me there have been some real changes. Women and girls need to know we are included. We need to hear it explicitly because we have heard and seen the opposite for so long. It's time to show us that our country values us enough to have our equality specifically included in the Constitution. If the Senate does not approve the removal of the deadline, it will be a clear message that we are not entitled to the same rights and protections that men and boys are granted. Your vote will show how you feel about us. I need the ERA so I will be able to say "with liberty and justice for all" and believe it. I live in France but vote in California.


Language Matters

I think I was always a feminist. As a child I grew up in a conservative Italian Catholic home in New Jersey, and my parents were active in local politics. I had heard about the ERA when I was young, but my mother said things about it that I now realize were the party line coming from Phyllis Schlafly and the conservative establishment. They claimed women were already equal under the constitution, as the language of “all men” included women. And so I believed them, too. I believe my mother was a closet feminist, but she did not know how to reconcile it with her strong beliefs about abortion. But she demonstrated her feminism in other ways. She actively volunteered with a home for pregnant teens who wanted to keep their babies, providing them shelter and access to education and employment when their families did not support their decision. She supported women candidates. As a child I remember my parents hosting fundraisers at our home for Millicent Fenwick, a strong voice for civil rights and women’s rights, who was running for Congress (she served in the House from 1974 to 1982). I had to get out of my parents’ house to really question the messages of my childhood and start to think for myself. And that process was a huge awakening for me, culminating in several degrees in gender studies and a career focused on research and advocacy that is centered on women and girls reaching their full potential. As a gender scientist, I can say with authority that language matters. We have so much evidence that when someone refers to men, people visualize men, not women. Language is power, and we need to create a constitution that truly includes equal rights for all people. In the 90’s when I got married, my mother, sister, and mother-in-law planned a shower for me, and the theme was “Lynda is a Feminist.” Along with the cake picturing Simone de Beauvoir and the Quotable Women book party favor, my MIL, long involved with a consciousness raising group focused on passing the ERA, led the guests in a rousing rendition of “I Am Woman.” It is among the most memorable moments of my life, and my MIL still hopes to see the passage of the ERA in her lifetime. My mother passed away many years ago now, but I often wonder what she would think about politics today. I am choosing to believe that she would support the passage of the ERA, if not for herself, but for her daughters, granddaughters, and future generations. We owe our mothers and our daughters this legacy. Lynda Sagrestano, Tennessee voter living in Germany (Photo: Lynda, left, in 1989, with sister Nancy and mother Loretta)


It is about time! We need ERA now!

I went to all girls college for my Master’s degree in 2012. I did not understand why there were still all girls colleges! But my time in the college taught me the value of having such institutions, where women are at the center, surrounded by women and constantly inspired and encouraged by other women. I left the college empowered and with the conviction that I could achieve anything! But reality at the work place made me very aware that I was not equal to my male co-workers and achieving my goals was going to be harder. Much has changed in the past decades and there has been progress in guaranteeing women’s rights, but it is not enough. We are still paid less, we hold fewer high and managerial positions than men in the public and private sectors , pregnancy leave is seen as a privilege instead of a right, and the list goes on. We continue to be discriminated against! We need equality engrained in our Constitutions. ERA won’t be the end of the road, but it will provide a permanent protection against laws that discriminate on the basis of gender. ERA will be a powerful tool to set a consistent approach to addressing the many ways gender is covered by state and federal laws. Onélica, CA voter living in Belgium


Too Long to Wait

In high school, during the late '70s, I wrote a research paper on the ERA giving the pros and cons of its ratification. At that time, it did not occur to me that it would NOT become the next amendment to the US Constitution. It was obvious to me that the pros outweighed the cons. Now, 42 years later, it surprises, and shocks, me that we are still fighting for these basic rights to equality. I grew up assuming that the USA was the world leader in human rights, but after moving to Germany and learning that the Grundgesetz has guaranteed equal rights to both men and women since 1949, I started questioning America's role as a champion of the basic rights that all humans worldwide should have. It is hypocritical of us to reprimand other countries for oppressing women and minorities. Let the ERA become the 28th Amendment so that Americans can once again be proud representatives of a country that recognizes that both sexes, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion and sexual orientation, make equally significant contributions to our global society. I live in Germany and vote in Illinois.


Wait... you mean this is a fight my Great Grandparents started?

Wow, can you believe it's been like 78 years and we STILL don't have the Equal Rights Amendment? How is guaranteeing equal legal rights for all American citizens regardless of sex POSSIBLY still controversial in this day and age? 168 international constitutions outside of America already include gender equality - so why have we chosen to keep America more regressive than most of the developed world? Why aren't we willing to give our citizens inclusiveness that other countries' women enjoy? Let's get equality written into our constitution now. The only shame we should feel is that it took so fricking long. I am currently residing in China and vote in Maryland.


Fighting for the Right to Follow our Dreams!

As a young college student, I had two passions: politics and music. While I was trying to decide whether to follow in the footsteps of my beloved uncle who travelled the world as a diplomat representing our country, or to travel the world as an opera singer instead, I was blown away by the negative input I received from family, friends, and even advisors at my university. I soon realized that while both of these paths would be challenging, one path would be full of roadblocks that had nothing to do with my ability. Roadblocks put into place by the patriarchy. My uncle encouraged me and was prepared to mentor me but also warned that it would be a constant, life-long battle against traditional norms. Although women were already breaking barriers and fighting their way into the all the traditional bastions of male power, it was, and still is, a difficult path. He asked me, “are you a fighter?” It became clear to me that as a coloratura soprano, I would never be passed over simply because of my gender. No man would ever be able to do my job. I may or may not get a particular role, but I would be judged on my talent, not my gender. And I would never have to be “a fighter.” I took what I believed to be the smoother path but soon ran up against a less visible, but pervasive roadblock. Patriarchy took the form of powerful stage directors, conductors, tenors and booking agents. Pay scales were unbelievably gender-biased and had to be negotiated, fought for. I learned about sexual harassment and that, as a woman, I would finally have to learn to fight. Adding 24 words to our constitution that proclaim a woman’s fundamental equality to her brothers won’t immediately remove every patriarchal roadblock, but it will help towards clearing the path and give women a powerful legal weapon to aid in the fight. There is no law that says a young woman can’t dream of pursuing any career she’s passionate about, but there is also no law affirming her right to do so. Passing the ERA would go a long way to making the dreams of generations of young women a reality./ Ann, residing in Germany and voting in California.


Always encouraged to do anything I thought I wanted to or could

It was my father who taught my mother to cook, sew, and clean the house. He´d grown up on a farm and had to share in all kinds of chores. My mother was raised more "the princess" which I leaned does no one any good. I learned it all too, including how build things, fix a flat, and mow the yard. There was a sense of joy in learning to do something with skill whatever it was. So when I went to college and then on to work for a living, I considered all kinds of livelihoods and ended up commercial fishing in the Bering Sea where I learned more skills and found I could do equal the work but had to negotiate for a fair share of the wage. I consider it Neanderthal thinking that one sex deserves more than another based on gender alone. All anyone has to do is read a few history books to understand the tyranny in this thinking. I'll continue to support the ERA for as long as I have breath in my body!  Live in Mexico, Vote in Idaho


We Need the ERA Now More Than Ever

"Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex." This is what the ERA guarantees. It is inconceivable that this language does not already exist in the Constitution. It is tempting to think that the ills this simple sentence is meant to address are no longer a concern, but it is just not so. Systemic bias exists everywhere - we need only to look at the data showing that the pandemic has disproportionately affected women - to confirm that we have not achieved equality and Congress needs tools to help us do so. Personally, as an employment lawyer, I see discriminatory decision-making in the workplace all the time. In the past, as my mother and other women of her generation experienced first-hand, employers would simply say they were denying them opportunities on the basis of sex. They had no real recourse. Even though employers are less likely now to say that they are making a decision based on a candidate's or employee's sex, it happens all the same. Passing the ERA is essential to ending sex-based discrimination in the workplace and throughout our society, which would benefit us all. It's as simple as that. - Danielle, Missouri voter residing in Canada.


When Men and Women Live in True Brotherhood....

I'm an academic, I live in France, and I vote in Massachusetts. Back in the 70s I read Simone de Beauvoir's groundbreaking book "The Second Sex" and it changed my life. I realized, as did many, that women were not given equal status, either in their personal lives or under the law. Later in life I had the grand experience of teaching the book and I came to understand the deeply philosophical reasons why no democracy can exist without equality between men and women. And unless women are equal to men under the law, there can be no true equality. So from there began my quest for an Equal Rights Amendment. True liberation for women can only exist when they are protected under the law, and men and women can live in true "brotherhood" (Beauvoir's word) only when the Constitution guarantees them equal rights. So let's go, let's get it done. Let's add that ERA to our guarantor of equal rights, the US Constitution.


Unheralded Bravery

I am the first person in my family to earn a PhD. My mother wanted to attend my graduation more than she wanted to attend my wedding. She herself never even finished her baccalaureate. She had dreamed first of being an astronaut and wrote NASA as a little girl to ask what she should do to prepare. They wrote back that she should instead find a husband. Then she dreamed of being a nurse, but had to suspend her studies when my father – a refugee with his own unlikely American story – received a job offer in another state. My mom eventually built up her career culminating in a position at the Pentagon where she called on her experience as a paralegal and as an IRB coordinator to write regulations for medical research, but while she lived to see my doctoral research completed she passed away before I was able to graduate. My mother died of pancreatic cancer at 62 years of age. This is a cancer increasingly linked to biological stress factors including extreme psychological stress. While there may have been additional factors contributing to my mother’s death I do believe that had ERA been incorporated into the constitution in 1972 – or more appropriately in 1787 – my mother might have had a longer and happier life. When I was a small girl she warned me that I should never find myself lashed to some man and growing up I increasingly understood why.

The stories from my father’s side of the family were epic and heroic. My great-grandfather had defied the Nazis to help procure paperwork for and release prisoners headed to death camps. My grandfather had stood in defiance of both Nazis and the KGB and for his efforts was tortured and twice narrowly escaped execution. My grandparents escaped with my father by putting him in my grandmother’s bicycle basket and side by side bicycling over a minefield to freedom.

But the stories on my mother’s side of the family were hushed and told with a sense of shame. My grandmother had raised two children on her own telling anyone who made assumptions that their father was deceased. My grandmother’s sister-in-law recognizing what her brother was doing to his family packed him up and forced him into a treatment program. My great aunt found out that she and my grandmother were being underpaid relative to their male colleagues and – unsuccessfully – demanded fair wages. My great-grandmother worked out an arrangement with another grandmother in the neighborhood to split childrearing duties so that their daughters could continue to work. This quiet feminine resilient bravery runs through my mother’s family history. There was no machine gun fire over their heads or glowering fascists and sneering torturers. There was no midnight flight or the desperate need to master a foreign language for survival. There was just a constant drip of unsupported and disrespected self-reliance. My grandfather’s illness was not the fault of his sister or my grandmother or my mother but all of them were nonetheless blamed for it. And yet they persisted.

In my own life although I belong to the nebulous millennial generation I have experienced obscene and dangerous levels of sexism. Crimes – particularly hate crimes – against women are not taken seriously. Simply for supporting a friend who had been attacked in high school I faced disciplinary action. She faced far worse. I have often been the only woman in the room and often subjected to threats of violence, overt harassment in various forms, extreme bullying, and – of course – actual violence. Now with a PhD in hand I face a new form of discrimination. Never mind that I had to clean up after male colleagues and was not given the supervision they were. Never mind that they spoke over me at meetings and were given preference for use of equipment I had written the proposals and gotten the money to purchase. No, even now as the first person male or female in my family to receive a doctorate degree many Americans insist I should use Ms. rather than Dr. as my title. They insist despite my years of research, hard work, enduring ridiculous indignities, being overlooked for funding largely on the basis of my sex, and putting my health on the line for my research I’m being “uppity,” or “elitist,” for daring to use the title I earned which my mother desperately wanted for me. Because ERA is not passed I have spent my youth being shown to the back of the line and I will never catch up.

I do want ERA for the generations behind me and for any daughters I may have. I don’t want future generations to grow up the way I did. Or the way my mother did. Or the way my grandmother did. I want their humanity acknowledged. I want their rights acknowledged. I want their bravery celebrated. But I also want ERA for myself. And I will be selfish. I demand my humanity.

Dr. Ariadne Lucia Schulz, UK Resident, California voter


An Urgent Intersectional and Safety Necessity

Passing the Equal Rights Amendment is long past due, but fortunately, we as a country have a pathway in front of us to renounce discrimination of equal rights on account of sex. I am proud my home state of Maryland is on the right side of history and passed this in 1972, as well as that Senator Cardin (D-MD) is the Lead Sponsor for Senate Joint Resolution 1 that would remove the ratification deadline.

Growing up in a state that had ratified the ERA prior to my birth meant that I had the law on my side regarding types of discrimination that impact residents of other states. For a period of time while working as an RN I lived in the state of Virginia -- prior to that state’s own historic passage of the ERA. While living there about seven years ago, I experienced domestic violence in a romantic relationship. I knew somewhat that the laws did not protect me as definitively, but I did not find out until later that Virginia had not ratified the Equal Rights Amendment. I ended up having to urgently pack and move my belongings out of the state in over a foot of snow for my own safety. I was extremely fortunate that friends helped me move, and that my proximity to my employer remained about the same. However, many do not have the ability and resources to leave their situations in this way, and ratifying the ERA means the consistent enforcement of restraining orders and equally important measures for victims of domestic violence.

The ERA is an important milestone, but certainly not the termination of the pursuit of equal rights under the law for all Americans. We as a nation must do everything we can to support and reinforce the narrative that any legislation that is complicit with or outright justifies discrimination of any person will be removed from the books entirely. If we can take down statues that embody inequality, we must be compelled to similarly dismantle and rectify codified institutional sexism, misogyny, oppression, and objectification.

The time is NOW to pass the ERA, and I am proud to be able to advocate for equal rights alongside my Democrats Abroad peers.

Maryland Voter, Sweden Resident


Try explaining this to foreigners

It is the year 2021 and NOW is the time to change the "All Men are Created Equal" part of our constitution. I simply cannot understand how a country like America who prides itself on change has Still not passed the ERA! This is shamefully tragic. As an American who has now lived the last 30 years outside of America I continue to be amazed at how we wag our fingers at other countries about their human rights issues yet half of America is not protected under our constitution. Try explaining this to foreigners, somehow I cannot! Please for the sake of America, pass the ERA and let the great women of America shine like never before.  Jane, Living in Germany, Voting in Minnesota

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