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Houston Breakthrough, Vol. 2, No. 5, May 1977
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Houston Breakthrough, Vol. 2, No. 5, May 1977 - Page 4. May 1977. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. Web. May 6, 2021. https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/4096/show/4078.

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.

(May 1977). Houston Breakthrough, Vol. 2, No. 5, May 1977 - Page 4. Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. Retrieved from https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/4096/show/4078

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.

Houston Breakthrough, Vol. 2, No. 5, May 1977 - Page 4, May 1977, Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters, Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries, accessed May 6, 2021, https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/4096/show/4078.

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 Houston Breakthrough, Vol. 2, No. 5, May 1977
Publisher Breakthrough Publishing Co.
Date May 1977
Subject.Topical (LCSH)
  • Women
  • Periodicals
  • Feminism--United States--Periodicals
  • Newsletters
Subject.Geographic (TGN)
  • Houston, Texas
Genre (AAT)
  • periodicals
Language English
Type (DCMI)
  • Text
  • Image
Original Item Location HQ1101 .B74
Original Item URL http://library.uh.edu/record=b2332724~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.
File Name index.cpd
Item Description
Title Page 4
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File Name femin_201109_528d.jpg
Transcript ERA'S Texas history By Ann Kennedy Twenty years ago, Dallas lawyer Hermine Tobolowsky appealed to the Texas Legislature to change the law so that women could control property they had owned before marriage. In her encounter with the Legislature, several senators "spoke so disparagingly of women" that Tobolowsky determined to campaign for full legal rights for women. The next year, she enlisted the support and aid of the Texas Business and Professional Women's Clubs and targeted 25 major areas in which Texas laws discriminated against women, including employment and working conditions, community property, homesteads, credit and checking accounts, and crime. Rights Amendment to the Texas State Constitution was introduced in six sessions of the Legislature. Each time it was defeated in either the House or the Senate. In January, 1971, Sen. Don Ken- nard of Fort Worth introduced before the 62nd Session a resolution to place the Equal Legal Rights Amendment on the general election ballot in November, 1972. The Senate passed it 30-0 in February. The House passed it two months later by a vote of 199-25 after lengthy debate. Congress passed the federal Equal Rights Amendment on March 22,1972, leaving it to three- quarters, or 38, of the 50 state legislatures to ratify the amendment into law. The Texas Legislature, meeting in special session, hustled to be one of the first to ratify. Texas ratification, the eighth in the nation, took only three days. HERMINE TOBOLOWSKY Until 1972, Article 1220 of the Penal Code provided that it was justifiable homicide if a husband killed his wife's paramour when taking her in adultery. It was murder if the wife killed the husband's mistress under similar circumstances. A Vietnam serviceman's wife could not purchase a home because she could not use the family credit. Any Texas husband was permitted by law to prevent his wife from cashing checks on her own separate account by notifying the bank. Texas codes provided that the husband was the natural guardian of minor children and that the husband's executor could manage all community property, including the wife's half, to the exclusion of the surviving wife. By the time the 56th Session of the Legislature convened in 1959, thousands of women were calling for an equal legal rights amendment to the Texas Constitution. A proposed amendment to the State Constitution must be passed by the Legislature, then approved by the voters. The Equal Legal Texas' ratification of the ERA is a classic example of how quickly a piece of legislation can move through the complex and ordinarily laborious process. Supporters of the state Equal Legal Rights Amendment had been touring the state for years, most intensively during the preceding year, to inform Texans about the inequities it addressed. Texans had been flooded with talk shows, press conferences, interviews, rallies, literature. As a result of that 13- year campaign, the merits of the amendment were no longer a controversial subject among the voters of Texas. In November, Texas voters ratified both the state and the federal amendments. More than 20 Texas laws which discriminated against women were automatically repealed. The Equal Legal Rights Amendment was attached to the Texas Bill of Rights, a part of the state Constitution which is inviolate. But within months, the press reflected rumblings from various parts of the state about reexamining the Amendment, recalling it, and even rescinding it. As legislators geared up for the 64th session in 1975, the single issue generating the most mail and phone calls was by far the ERA. Republican Rep. Larry Vick of Houston led the fight for repeal. He was strongly supported by such groups as Women Who Want to be Women (WWWW), Fascinating Womanhood, the Texas Parent-Teacher Association (PTA), the Church of Christ and Mary Kay Cosmetics. Many of these groups are still involved in efforts to rescind or to halt ratification in other states. In February, the press reported that Vick had taken two out-of- state trips to work against adoption of the ERA in North Dakota and Illinois. Vick had excused himself from the Legislature "for important business." "I wasn't lobbying against the ERA," Vick squirmed. "I was testifying in favor of resolutions to study the effect the ERA would have on the right of states to enact laws in such areas as family and probate law." Rep. Bill Hilliard of Fort Worth introduced a resolution February 18 that the Legislature rescind ratification of the federal ERA. The resolution was referred to the Constitutional Revision Committee, chaired by Rep. Ray Hutchison of Dallas. Hutchison, pointing to his committee's heavy agenda, indicated that a hearing could not be scheduled for Hilliard's resolution until mid-April. Shortly thereafter, Rep. George Preston of Paris introduced a bill calling for a nonbinding referendum on whether the Legislature should rescind its ratification. Preston contended that the voters who had approved the measure by a 4-1 margin three months earlier had since had a change of opinion. They were wary of interpretations of the amendment by the Congress and the courts, and were concerned about a "loss of traditional morality." His bill ended up in a subcommittee of the State Affairs Committee. The House Constitutional Revision Committee set a hearing on Hilliard's resolution to rescind ratification of the ERA for April 14. At that point, legislators had received nearly 500,000 letters on the subject and had been inundated by waves of emotional lobbyists. ERA supporters wore red, white and blue sashes — opponents wore pink and brought cakes to the lawmakers. More than 2,000 persons came to watch or testify. Some arrived the night before and kept vigil on the capitol grounds. Hundreds rallied beforehand. The hearing lasted ten hours. House employees cleared and refilled the spectator galleries every hour and piped the sound out to those waiting in the hall. Lawyers and professors propounded conflicting theories on the legality of rescission. "What the Legislature giveth, it also can take away," a legislator visiting from Tennessee declared. ERA opponents bemoaned the specters of ruined families, abandoned religion, mothers in combat, rampant abortion, homosexual marriage and unisex bathrooms. And Hermine Tobolowsky testified that the ERA was necessary, pointing out that "the Texas Legislature showed no interest in repealing discriminatory laws until the ERA was in the state Constitution. And Congress showed no interest until it was apparent the federal ERA would pass." In an expected anti-climax, Hutchison sent the bill to a subcommittee. Three days later, three senators, including Houston Republican Walter "Mad Dog" Mengden, announced they would sponsor the resolution in the Senate if it passed the House. One month after the hearing, the subcommittee reported to the full committee a recommendation that Texas recall rather than rescind ratification of the federal ERA for reexamination. But by the time Rep. Ben Bynum made a motion that the Constitutional Revisions Committee approve the subcommittee report, a majority was no longer present. A majority is required to get a bill out of committee and onto the House floor. Hutchison sent staff to search for the suddenly missing members, but the search was unsuccessful. After holding the vote open for half an hour, Hutchison adjourned. He did not bnng up the resolution for consideration again. Efforts to kill the ERA were dead — at least for the 64th session. Women back Whitmire By Linda Niederhofer By a strange coincidence, Leo- nel Castillo chose to announce his resignation at noon on Monday, March 2, at the same time that 12 representatives of area women's groups called a press conference- to publicly announce their support of Kathryn Whitmire's candidacy for the comptroller's post. They held the conference outside City Hall, on the steps, to symbolize the fact that women have been kept outside of city government. The news of the support for Whitmire was overshadowed by the Castillo resignation and the word that Council was meeting in emergency session at 2 p.m. to appoint an interim comptroller. Speakers and reporters went straight from the press conference to Council chambers to await the decision. The list of people who wished to be considered for the position had grown to 12, although Council remained with the predicted choices — Councilman-architect Homer Ford and accountant Steve Jones. Later that afternoon, to end the deadlock, City Treasurer Henry Kriegel was named to the post. He said that he would not run for that position in November. The speakers emphasized that Kathy Whitmire is the only candidate who is both qualified and has not been rejected by the voters for that position (Steve Jones lost to Castillo in a previous election). Whitmire is a Houston certified public accountant who has held senior auditing positions with prestigious firms here in the city. She currently teaches accounting at the University of Houston Downtown College. PAM PITT, SHARON MACHA, HELEN CASSIDY KAREY BRESENHAN. BARBARA SHOOK, PAT LANE Pamela Pitt, a member of the tails Women's Equity Action League, pointed out that no women have ever been elected to city government in Houston. She cited the reason that men in government often give for not appointing women — the lack of qualified women — and then listed Whitmire's qualifications for the office. Texas Women's Political Caucus speaker Sharon Macha seriously questioned why such an important position should be decided by the "toss of a coin," as the Houston Post headlined it one morning. "Particularly," said Macha "when heads is an architect and is a previously defeated candidate for the office," speaking of Homer Ford and Steve Jones respectively. Pat Lane, from the 15th Democratic Senatorial District Women's Caucus, and Helen Cassidy, national board member of NOW, noted that women make up over half of the electorate and have been grossly overlooked in political appointments. "No wonder men find it difficult to find qualified women when the only recommendations they seem to value come from other men," Lane told members of the press. The speakers addressed them selves to the issue of patronage, which allows men who are already in power to pass on power to other men. Dr. Susan A. MacManus, U.H. professor of political science, spoke of the concern that council j appeared to be expressing about | the political advantages of whom < they choose rather than the ? professional advantages of their 5 appointee. She asked, "Is being a <3J political cohort enough training to handle disbursement and auditing of millions of taxpayers' dollars?" Director of the Women's Commission for LULAC, Olga Soliz, summed up the feelings of the women present when she stated, "It is our hope that our elected city officials give top priority to the appointment of women in positions of importance, policy and leadership." Kathy Whitmire plans to run in the November election. If you would like to work to help her and other qualified women run for office, contact Carolyn Nichols at 528-3919 or 627-0700, X2051. i ■= HOUSTON BREAKTHROUGH • MAY 1977 • PAGE 3