Rights Amendment Still
Needs States' Approval
A 49-year struggle by both men's and women's
organizations was ended on March 22 when the U. S. Senate
sent the women's equal rights constitutional amendment to
the state legislatures by a vote of 84 to 8. Approved by
the House last October 12 by a 354-23 vote, the measure
specifies that women are to receive absolute equality with
men before the law.
If ratified within 7 years by three-fourths of the state
legislatures, the proposal will become the 27th amendment
to the U. S. Constitution and will go into effect two years
following ratification. (Already Texas has become the 8th
state to ratify, and two states have voted against ratification,
Oklahoma and Connecticut.)
The gist of the proposal is contained in one paragraph:
"Equality of rights under the law shall not be
denied or abridged by the United States or by
any state on account of sex."
Senators Birch Bayh (D-Ind.) and Marlow W. Cook
(R-Ky.) and Rep. Martha W. Griffiths (D-Mich.), chief
sponsors of the amendment, proposed that it would wipe
out a broad spectrum of archaic state and federal laws and
regulations which actually lock women in to a subordinate
role and limit their legal economic rights.
Voting against the amendment were Senators Sam. J.
Ervin, Jr. (D-NC), Wallace F. Bennett, (R-Utah), James L.
Buckley (R-N.Y.), Norris H. Cotton (R-N.H.), Paul J. Fannin
(R-Ariz.), Barry Goldwater (R-Ariz.), Clifford P. Hansen
(R-Wyo.) and John Stennis (D-Miss.). James Eastland
(D-Miss.) was present and paired against passage.
Edmund Muskie (D-Maine) and Hubert Humphrey
(D-Minn.), both Democratic presidential candidates, voted
for passage, but both George McGovern (D-S.D.) and Henry
Jackson (D-Wash) were absent.
Texas senators, Tower (R) and Bentson (D), were present
and voted for passage of the amendment. (Largely through
the efforts of a massive letter campaign conducted by
Feminist organizations nationally, such as NOW, the
National Women's Political Caucus and the National
Federation of Business and Professional Women's Clubs, were
credited principally with passage of the amendment through
their improved lobbying efforts.
Passage of the amendment does not however, insure
immediate action by the Federal government. Even if the
necessary 38 states ratify the amendment within seven years,
it will not become effective for an additional two years. (The
Texas Women's Legal Rights Amendment will take effect
immediately, if it is successful in November's election.)
Work must continue to force ratification of the equal
rights amendment as quickly as possible.
Join Fight at Precinct Level, Caucus is Told
"Women have historically been only a tiny percentage
of elected and appointed officials and of party delegates.
Women are the majority and now is the time for women
to begin to take action," said Helen Cassidy, in her opening
statements at the organizational meeting of the Harris
County Women's Political Caucus, held April 1.
•"Women must get involved at the grassroots level of
politics this year if they are to wield the political power
to which their numbers in the population entitle them,"
Helen, President of the Texas Women's Political Caucus, said
in discussing the importance of attendance and participation
at precinct conventions May 6. "What we must do is go to
our precinct conventions organized and knowing our
Members of the caucus were then shown a mock precinct
convention and the method by which conventions can be
railroaded to a quick and predetermined conclusion. Women
were advised that if they did not feel they were properly
represented at their precinct conventions, they could hold
their own convention, but the minutes must be registered
immediately with the county clerk's office.
U. S. Representative Bob Eckhardt and State
Representative Rex Braun spoke to the members of the
caucus concerning women in politics and women and the
Representative Eckhardt warned the women of the
•"clever, ingenious devices used by persons determined not
to let a constitutional principle like the Equal Rights
Braun emphasized the importance of continuing to work
for passage of the Texas equal rights amendment which will
be voted on in the November general election.
Members voted to eliminate sexual designation in
leadership titles and elected Poppy Northcutt as chairone;
Marion Seltzer, co-chairone for handling public relations and
heading the priorities committee; Ruth Milburn, co-chairone
for information and membership; Barbara Lane Farley,
secretary; and Bonnie Burnett, treasurer.
The following resolutions were adopted:
♦Reform of abortion laws
♦Support for the National Abortion Week, May 1-6,
sponsored by the Women's National Abortion
♦Support for equal employment opportunities
♦Support for political party efforts encouraging
proportionate representation for women and
minorities in political conventions
♦Support for day-care programs
Following a break for lunch, the members heard from
twelve women candidates for legislative, judicial,
congressional and state board of education positions.
Anyone wishing to obtain information concerning the
Harris County Women's Political Caucus should contact
Poppy Northcutt, 333-3270.
INITIALS TO KNOW
ERA -- Equal Rights Amendment
OFCC -- Office of Federal Contract Compliance
EEOC -- Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
FEPC -- Fair Employment Practices Commission
WRO -- Welfare Rights Organization