[Mrs. Kitchelt's letter was shown in advance of publication to an opponent of the Equal Rights Amendment, Miss Anna Lord Strauss, president, the National League of Women Voters, who makes the following comment.--THE EDITORS]
SIR: Once upon a time someone bought the Brooklyn Bridge from a silver-tongued salesman. Today, the women of the United States are being offered such a gold brick in the form of a so-called "equal-rights" amendment, advocated by a small group of women who seemingly are naïve enough to believe that to write the words "equal rights" into the Constitution will automatically remove discriminations against women.
Laws governing the legal status of women are still the concern of the individual states. Even though the words "equal rights of men and women" do appear in the United Nations Charter, the actual removal of any discrimination would still be a problem for each individual country to solve.
A stork once dined with a fox. The fox served dinner in a flat dish. The stork had perfect equality with the fox to eat out of the same dish but he got very little to eat.
Twenty-eight national organizations (named below) believe that legal discriminations against women should be removed. They have, however, consistently opposed the so-called "equal-rights" amendment because there is no assurance that it would in any way improve the status of women; there is real danger that it would jeopardize the gains women have already won by patient effort. Neither would such an amendment change a single law now on the statute books.
Women are biologically different from men, and because they must be the mothers of future generations they need special safeguards in the law. The advocated amendment to the Constitution would jeopardize many of these laws. Certainly chaos and confusion would reign in the whole field of state legislation affecting the minimum-wage and maximum-hour laws, the laws paying alimony to wives with children to support, mothers'-pension laws, widows' pensions under the Social Security Act, and many others. The proposed amendment is doubly dangerous because it masquerades as a progressive measure.
Many of the discriminations which affect women are based on prejudice which the proposed amendment would in no way eliminate. The organizations opposing this amendment are aware that discrimination against women does exist. It is the members of those organizations who are working continuously to improve the legal status of women through state laws.
Senator Connally of Texas, a graduate of the University of Texas Law School and practising attorney before he began his long and distinguished career in Congress, said in voting against the bill in committee, that its passage would "disrupt the laws of each of the 48 states and would fail to give women any compensating advantage. In fact it would destroy much legislation now in existence in behalf of women."
The opposition of Dean Acheson, well known attorney and now Undersecretary of State, Dean Roscoe Pound of the Harvard Law School, Walton Hamilton of the Yale Law School and Silas Strawn, former president of the American Bar Association, is a matter of record in the hearings of the Senate's Judiciary Committee.
For the Senate to have ratified the Charter of the United Nations, with its principle of "equal rights," is an entirely different matter than would be the placing of the so-called "equal-rights" amendment in our own Constitution. The principles declared in the Charter do not abrogate the laws of the signatory nations, but are rather goals toward which the nations may aspire through their own legislative procedures. Practically every member of the present Senate has told us he believes in "equal rights," but like the members of the organizations listed below, the majority of them have said they prefer to leave the matter of "equalizing" to the states, where it belongs.
Organizations which oppose the amendment are: Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America, American Federation of Labor, American Federation of Women's Auxiliaries of Labor, Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen, Congress of Industrial Organizations, Congress of Women's Auxiliaries of the CIO, Food, Tobacco, Agricultural and Allied Workers' Union of America, Girls' Friendly Society of the United States, International Coördinating Committee UAW Auxiliary, International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union, International Union United Automobile, Aircraft, Agricultural Implement Workers of America, CIO, League of Women Shoppers, Inc., National Consumers' League, National Council of Catholic Women, National Council of Jewish Women, National Council of Negro Women, National Farmers' Union, National Federation of Settlements, Inc., National League of Women Voters, National Maritime Union, Women's Auxiliary, National Women's Trade Union League of America, Service Star Legion, Inc., the National Board of the Young Women's Christian Associations of the United States of America, Union for Democratic Action, United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, CIO, United Office and Professional Workers of America, CIO, Women's National Homeopathic Medical Fraternity.
ANNA LORD STRAUSS, President,
National League of Women Voters
Washington, D. C..