League Sponsored ERA efforts on hold

It was a year ago in July 2009 that Lee Luebbe, Vice-president of the League of Women Voters of Henderson County, met with the AAUW branch members in Hendersonville during their summer meeting. Lee requested AAUW NC support in the League’s effort to educate citizens in NC about the ERA and the need to pass the legislation in NC.

The AAUW NC Board approved a resolution in support of this effort.

Recently at the State LWV Council meeting, the League delegates agreed to temporarily postpone the idea of working as a lead organization to muster support for the ERA in NC at this time.

The general consensus was that the economic situation in our State has consumed the attention of the General Assembly and that taxes and jobs are the pieces of legislation which are likely to receive priority attention of the legislators in 2011. To gain the attention of several legislators at this time to introduce bills to support the passage of the ERA seemed to be futile.

Some Leagues will continue to pursue educating their own members but the League’s work as an umbrella organization, leading other groups such as AAUW in this legislative effort, is temporarily on hold.

The League is confident that there will be a more appropriate time to launch a coordinated effort to pass the ERA in NC and promises to reestablish a partnership with AAUW NC to that end.

But work is continuing


By Roberta Madden, ERA Chair, AAUW-Asheville

Women are not included in the U.S. Constitution except for the right to vote. For every legislative battle, we have to start all over again–and hard-won victories (such as Title IX) may be eroded when the makeup of Congress changes. One of the clearest examples of why we need bedrock constitutional protection is the persistence of gross pay inequities. Over the last several decades, women have averaged only around three-quarters of what men with the same education and the same jobs have earned.

The Equal Rights Amendment, first introduced in Congress in 1923, was approved by the House in 1971 and the Senate in 1972, with a seven-year deadline on ratification. The deadline was later extended to 10 years, but the ERA fell three states short of victory in 1982. Having failed to win 38 states by the deadline, we believed the amendment was dead and the process would have to begin again.

But in 1992, a major development occurred that resurrected the original ERA. That year, the Madison Amendment concerning congressional pay raises won ratification after 203 years, reported the ERA campaign website (www.eracampaign.net). 
The 27th Amendment’s incorporation into the Constitution after such a long delay signals the continuing viability of the ERA, especially as mention of a deadline is not included in the text of the amendment. 
ERA supporters have now adopted the “three-state strategy,” an attempt to have three more states ratify the amendment and challenge the deadline.

Recently I moved to North Carolina from Louisiana, where I worked actively for the ERA, testifying in legislative committees and helping to organize women from various groups across the state. In my new adopted state, I hope to work with women interested to form a grassroots movement for the ERA. Let’s establish a network of individuals throughout the state to lobby our House members and senators regularly about ratifying the ERA and to recruit others to do so. If you are interested, please contact Robertamadden@yahoo.com or at 828.669.2757.