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NOW News Bay Area Chapter, Vol. 7, No. 9, September 1979
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NOW News Bay Area Chapter, Vol. 7, No. 9, September 1979 - Page 8. September 1979. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. Web. September 23, 2021. https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/1356/show/1352.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

(September 1979). NOW News Bay Area Chapter, Vol. 7, No. 9, September 1979 - Page 8. Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. Retrieved from https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/1356/show/1352

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

NOW News Bay Area Chapter, Vol. 7, No. 9, September 1979 - Page 8, September 1979, Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters, Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries, accessed September 23, 2021, https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/1356/show/1352.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

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Title NOW News Bay Area Chapter, Vol. 7, No. 9, September 1979
Publisher National Organization for Women, Bay Area Chapter
Date September 1979
Subject.Topical (LCSH)
  • Women
  • Periodicals
  • Feminism--United States--Periodicals
  • Newsletters
Subject.Name (LCNAF)
  • National Organization for Women
Genre (AAT)
  • periodicals
Language English
Type (DCMI)
  • Text
  • Image
Original Item Location HQ1101 .N682
Original Item URL http://library.uh.edu/record=b2332563~S11
Digital Collection Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters
Digital Collection URL http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist
Repository Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries
Repository URL http://info.lib.uh.edu/about/campus-libraries-collections/special-collections
Use and Reproduction Educational use only, no other permissions given. Copyright to this resource is held by the content creator, author, artist or other entity, and is provided here for educational purposes only. It may not be reproduced or distributed in any format without written permission of the copyright owner. For more information please see UH Digital Library Fair Use policy on the UH Digital Library About page.
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Title Page 8
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File Name femin_201109_389h.jpg
Transcript Evolution, Not Revolution /// 14 states, an ERA is already at work Would the Equal Rights Amendment mean instant equality or a chaos of broken families and unisex lavatories? Conflicting predictions have been made for years, while 35 of the necessary 38 states ratified the measure, but the surprising fact is that some of the answers are already in. Since 1970, 14 states* have written equal rights for women into their own state constitutions. Experience in those states, according to a report from the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, "provides an important model for ERA implementation on a national level." Enforcement of the state ERAS varies from negligible in Virginia to considerable in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts. But in general, says the Civil Rights Commission, the effect "has been one of substantial strides toward equality," achieved in an orderly way. Some results: ► In Maryland and Pennsylvania, courts have abolished the presumption that all household goods, including jewelry, belong to the husband—part of an overall trend toward recognizing the nonmonetary contributions of the housewife to the family's wealth. ► In New Mexico, a wife now shares control of family assets. One consequence: an improved credit rating for New Mexican women. ► In Washington, survivors or dependents of female as well as male workers now receive death benefits. ► In Massachusetts, the state has begun providing women prisoners with rehabilitation programs formerly available only to men. ► In most ERA states, rape laws have been extended to protect both men and women against sexual assault. ► In Pennsylvania, equal application of antiprostitution laws in Harrisburg resulted in the arrest of 300 male patrons last year. ► In no state have any unisex toilets appeared in public places as a result of the ERA. "I lived in Florida before moving to Hawaii, and the misconceptions over ERA were incredible," says Alice Ball, president of the Oahu YWCA. "I wish I could bring those people over to Hawaii to see how well it's working. ERA doesn't solve everything, but it has cleared out some of the undergrowth." State laws have traditionally formed not just an undergrowth but a lush jungle *Illinois. Pennsylvania. Virginia, Alaska. Hawaii, Maryland. Texas. Washington. Colorado, New Mexico. Connecticut. New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Montana. of archaic restrictions, limitations and protections based on the 19th century notion of a female as the dependent property of a father or husband. In Georgia, the legislature has stubbornly refused to repeal an 1863 law that defines a woman's legal existence as "merged in the husband." In Arizona, insurance companies may still cancel a divorced woman's insurance (but not a man's) on the grounds of "instability." Even in states where era has been approved, charting a new path is a long process of legislative codification, judicial clarification and—most of all—continu- SAL DIMARCO J Divorcee Frances Wasiolek takes care of her children in Philadelphia Did equality mean she had to go out and get a job? ous pressure from women. "Legislatures won't do the job on their own," says Betty Gittes, attorney and member of the Massachusetts commission to revise state laws. "The ERA is not a self-executing law, it's a constant fight." ERA states have not. however, experienced the blizzard of lawsuits that some ERA opponents feared. The ERA can bring unexpected problems, however. In Pennsylvania, for example, Frances Wasiolek, the divorced mother of three young children, asked a court to award her increased child support. The judge ruled that under the state ERA, she had the responsibility not only to support herself but to contribute to her children's support. "My blood was boiling," says her lawyer, Michael Pepe Jr., who appealed the case. The Pennsylvania superior court agreed with him that housekeeping has economic value: Wasiolek, who looks forward to the day she can return to her nursing career, was already providing her share of support by staying home and caring for her children. It was a hollow victory for her, since her former husband is now unemployed, and paying less child support, and she is still on welfare. But her landmark case established for the women of Pennsylvania that equality does not mean women will be forced out of their homes into paying jobs. Women who do work have long been paid less and received fewer benefits, often on the excuse that they might become pregnant. Glenna Lehtonen, now a housewife with two babies in East Templeton. Mass., was one of the three women whose successful suit against Massachusetis Electric established that under the state ERA, pregnancy is just another biological contingency that must be included in routine disability plans. So far, Mrs. Lehtonen's cash award for several pregnancy-related illnesses has been only $97. The court decision in her case, however, grants rights that the U.S. Supreme Court, without an ERA, had refused in a similar case. "The ERA means evolution, not revolution." says one feminist. If the slow, costly and erratic accumulation of court decisions seems barely past the protoplasmic stage of evolution, feminists in ERA states insist that it is only part of a much larger change in attitudes. Sho- shana Cardin, head of the Maryland Commission for Women, points to the 28 women serving in the state legislature (eleven of whom are new this term) as evidence of Maryland women's "greater sense of opportunity and equality.,, Only five cases have ever tested Colorado's ERA but, says Democratic Congresswoman Patricia Schroeder, "seven years ago, single women were not allowed in some restaurants in downtown Denver at lunch hour. No women even served on school boards. Now state chairs of both parties are women. There has been tremendous change." If state ERAS bring such improvements, why is a Federal Rights Amendment needed? Although reform by the states is useful, says U.S. Civil Rights Commissioner Arthur Flemming, it is "plodding, haphazard, and offers no guarantees of ever reaching completion." Besides, state ERAS will not change the more than 800 sections of the U.S. code that the commission identifies as sex biased. Most important, according to the commission's report, women are still far from equal under the law. As many of them see it, an Equal Rights Amendment is —based on the evidence in the 14 states that have tried it—the surest way to establish the principle. TIME. MARCH 26. 1979 25