The following explication of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was actually published by the Iowa Division of the National Woman's Party (NWP),not by the League of Women Voters. These perspectives on the amendment highlight the NWP's reasons for supporting the amendment. The document acknowledged the effect of the ERA on protective legislation and distinguished between social and legal protections for women. According to the NWP, the ERA would grant states a five-year grace period following its passage, during which laws would be brought into conformity with the amendment's provisions.
FACTS ALL WOMEN SHOULD KNOW REGARDING THE PROPOSED EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITUTION
Compiled by Helen G. Irwin, Legislation Chairman of the Iowa Fed'n of Business and Professional Women's Clubs and Co-chairman of Publicity Committee, Iowa Division of National Woman's Party
WHAT IS THE TEXT OF THE EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT NOW BEFORE CONGRESS?
Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of sex.
WHAT IS THE PRESENT STATUS OF THE AMENDMENT?
In the Senate: On the Calendar awaiting a vote.
In the House: Before Judiciary Committee, with unanimous favorable recommendation from subcommittee.
Introduced in present Congress by 24 Senators and 43 Representatives joining with Senator Gillette of Iowa and Representative Ludlow of Indiana.
DOES ANY MAJOR POLITICAL PARTY SUPPORT THE AMENDMENT? Yes. (See attached sheet)
WHY ACTION IS SOUGHT BY CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT INSTEAD OF STATE LEGISLATION:
As a basic principle of democratic government, equality of rights of citizens belongs in the Constitution as the fundamental law. Correction of inequalities law by law and state by state is a slow and relatively impermanent process, and its advocacy is a denial of the fundamental character of the democratic principle involved.
EFFECT ON AMENDMENT OF STATE LAWS:
State laws would continue to differ as they do today, but no state could have one law for men citizens and another for women citizens. The prviso that the amendment shall not go into effect until 5 years after ratification affords all State Legislatures opportunity to bring existing laws into conformity with it.
WOULD THE AMENDMENT AFFECT MATERNITY LEGISLATION?
No: Benefits to mothers, like benefits to war veterans, are for a special service to a limited group, and neither violates the principles of "equal protection of the law." It is for a special service rendered to society.
Mother's pensions: Such allotments are for support of dependent children and granted to those responsible for their care.
Women's liability for service in armed forces: The Government now has power to conscript women as well as men for military service. Legislation is now before Congress drafting both men and women for war work.
THE AMENDMENT WOULD EQUALIZE:
Pay for any given type of Government service; support, alimony, dower, divorce and marriage-age laws.
REASONS FOR IMMEDIATE ACTION:
The position of women in the industrial and business world today, the responsibility which will fall on them as the sole bread-winners of many families in the post-war world and elimination of the unfair competition of a lower paid group in the labor market after the war call for establishment of equality of status. Consistency with the democratic war aims announced by this government demands equality of rights for American women.
WOULD THE AMENDMENT DEPRIVE THE STATES OF THE POWER TO "CLASSIFY" FOR THE PROTECTION OF THE HEALTH, SAFETY, MORALS,AND WELFARE OF THE COMMUNITY?
No: The only way this power could be touched would be that States could no longer set up the arbitrary basis of sex as a "classification." They would be bound by the restrictions now applying to legislation affecting men.
WHEN WAS "PROTECTIVE" LEGISLATION FOR WOMEN ONLY FIRST PROPOSED?
As far as we have been able to discover, it was in 1836, when the New England Association of Farmers, Mechanics, and Other Workingmen, at the outset of the factory system in the United States, adopted the following resolution:
"Whereas, labor is a physical and moral injury to women and a competitive menace to men, we recommend legislation to restrict women in industry."
Ever since that time, restriction of the competition of women, not protection of women, has been the primary objective of labor laws for women only.
WHAT ARE THE CHIEF FORMS OF "PROTECTIVE LEGISLATION" FOR WOMEN THAT WOULD BE AFFECTED BY THE AMENDMENT?
Minimum wages, restricted hours of work, restrictions on the occupations in which women may work, compulsory seats for women workers and regulation of home work.
NATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS WHICH HAVE ENDORSED THE EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT:
American Alliance of Civil Service Women National Council of Women Chiropracters National Association of Women Lawyers Association of American Women Dentists Ladies of the Grand Army of the Republic Mothers and Women of America, Inc National Woman's Party Alpha Iota Sorority American Society of Women Accountants Avalon National Poetry Shrine National Association of Colored Women St. Joan Society (Catholic Women) Pilot International We, The Mothers, Mobilize for AmericaAmerican Woman's Society of Certified Public Accountants
Women's National Relief Corps, Auxilary to Grand Army of the Republic
Women's Auxilary to the National Chiropractic Association
National Federation of Business and Professional Women's Clubs
National Board of Directors, General Federation of Women's Clubs
Auxilary to the American Osteopathic Association
American Council for Equal Legal Status
Mary Ball Washington Association of America
Osteopathic Women's National Association
American Federation of Soroptimist Clubs
American Medical Women's Assocation, Inc
SOME PROMINENT CITIZENS WHO HAVE ENDORSED THE EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT:
Vice President Henry A. Wallace
Senator Hattie W. Caraway
Congresswoman Winifred C. Stanley
Congresswoman Clare Boothe Luce
Governor Henry F. Schricker, (Indiana)
Raymond Gram Swing, Radio Commentator
Pearl Buck, Author
Helen Hayes, Actress
Gladys Swarthout, Operatic Star
Dr. Mary E. Woolley, President Emeritus, Mt. Holyoke College
Margaret Culkin Banning, Author
Katharine Hepburn, Actress
James Truslow Adams, Historian
Arthur Meier Schlesinger, Harvard University
Jeannette Marks, Professor, Mt. Holyoke College
Rupert Hughes, Author
Irving Fisher, Author and Economist
Channing Pollock, Author
M. Simon Schuster, Publisher
Victor Hugo Duras, Journalist
Robert Erskine Ely, New York Town Hall
Frank Putnam, Author
Bryant Baker, Sculptor
Rev. Theodore G. Soares, Calif, Institute of Technology
A. Harry Moore, former Governor of New Jersey
E. Wight Bakke, Yale University
Dr. Wm. Allen Wilbour, George Washington University
James A. Fox, Chairman, States Legislative Board of Penn.,
Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Engineers
J.B. Prewitt, Secy-Treas. International Brotherhood of Bookbinders
Dr. Lena Madesin Phillips, President,
International Fed'n of Business and Professional Women's Clubs
Frederick H. Koch, University of North Carolina
Richard J. Walsh, Editor
Dr. A. G. Balch, Calif. Institute of Technology
Ernest R. Groves, University of North Carolina
Malcolm G. Buchanan, Court of Chancery of New Jersey
Struthers Burt, Author
Warren E. Bow, Supt. of Schools, Detroit, Mich.
John Daniels, Editor, Popular Education
Albert Field Gilmon, Author
Arthur C. Jacobson, Editor Medical Times
Mollie Maloney, Former President Local 66,
International Brotherhood of Bookbinders
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The Republican Party, at its National Convention at Philadelphia in June, 1940, adopted the following plank by unanimous vote: "We favor submission by Congress to the States of an amendment to the Constitution providing for equal rights for men and women."
The Democratic Party made no mention of a constitutional amendment in its 1940 platform. It stated: "We will continue our efforts to achieve equal opportunity for men and women without impairing the social legislation which promotes true equality by safeguarding the health, safety and economic welfare of women workers. The right to work for compensation in both public and private employment is an inalienable privilege for women as well as men without distinction as to marital status."
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