BRAINERD – The proposed Equal Rights Amendment has been in the works for a century and contains 24 vital words: “Equal rights under law shall not be denied or restricted by the United States or by any State on grounds of sex.”
About 50 people attended the annual Women’s History Month program, which took a closer look at gender and gender inequality in the United States on Wednesday, March 16, at the cafeteria of Central Lakes College. The event, which also honored the passage of the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote, was co-hosted by the Brainerd Lakes Area League of Women Voters and the local chapter of the American Association of University Women.
In 1921, the National Woman’s Party announced its intention to campaign for a constitutional amendment granting women equal rights with men, just one year after women were legally allowed to go to the polls.
Often those working on these bills and amendments don’t see the results of their work, said Hara Charlier, president of Central Lakes College. She encouraged those present to reflect on this notion, to realize the power of her own voice and to raise the voices of others.
“We’re incredibly excited and quite frankly, this is a time for celebration, reflection and appreciation,” Charlier said. “We celebrate that in 1920 women finally got the right to vote. It’s festive. Absolutely terrific.
Charlier spoke as an introduction to the event’s keynote speaker, Betty Folliard, a former Minnesota legislator and founder of ERA Minnesota. Founded in 2014 and working for equal legal rights regardless of sex and gender, ERA Minnesota works on gender equality at the state and federal levels.
“This will remove the barriers that stand in the way of women’s progress and help ensure that our courts are protected from sexual violence, pregnancy-related discrimination, unequal pay and laws that unfairly discriminate on the basis of gender. So it affects everyone, men too,” Folliard said of the amendment.
At the federal level, Folliard has worked to have the Equal Rights Amendment ratified as the 28th Amendment to the Constitution, although he has recently come under political pressure due to the delay in ratification within the states. .
During the process of ratifying the 18th Amendment – Prohibition – in 1917, Congress imposed a seven-year deadline for ratification of the amendments by states from their passage by federal legislative bodies. The bottleneck for the Equal Rights Amendment is the time it took three-quarters of the states to ratify it in their state legislatures.
“The Equal Rights Amendment has been duly ratified by 38 states,” Folliard said. “The last one was in Virginia in 2020. I was there.”
In March 2021, the 117th Congress passed Bill HJRes.17 in the House of Representatives, removing the deadline for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. Supporters are still waiting for a similar bill, SJRes.1, which was introduced in the Senate a day after the similar House bill.
“The good news is that the Chairman of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee intends to bring up SJRes.1 shortly and get a test vote on ERA this session to mark the 50th anniversary of the final adoption of the amendment by the Senate,” Folliard said. “And that 50th anniversary is next Tuesday, March 22.”
As the speaker worked to empower viewers to get involved, CLC student Talisha Banks said she specifically asked to work alongside the event to hear what was being said. .
“I didn’t know he was adopted and we’re struggling to get him back up and running,” Banks said. “(They) gave me more information about what we need to do to keep this going, to really make it work, and I appreciate that. I think just getting the word out about what we can do, to continue this fight, is really great.
As Rebecca LaPlante, President of the Brainerd Lakes Area League of Women Voters, closed her speech, she encouraged everyone to get involved on a level that has a huge impact on everyday life.
“Just because it’s not a presidential year doesn’t mean your vote isn’t important,” LaPlante said. “In fact, it’s even more important. Your local elections are the ones that affect your life. What the president does or doesn’t do doesn’t always affect you directly. But what your county commissioner does affects you directly. What your councilor does is directly relevant to you. What your state legislature does affects you directly.
LaPlante noted that a traveling 19th Amendment exhibit eventually made its way to Central Lakes College.
“We presented a 19th Amendment exhibit (for) its 100th, well, now its 102nd anniversary,” LaPlante said. “We were supposed to have it here two years ago, but you know, COVID.”
The 19th Amendment Traveling Exhibit is free and will remain at Central Lakes College through the end of March.
1/4: Betty Folliard, former Minnesota legislator and founder of ERA Minnesota, spoke at the CLC’s annual Women’s History Month program on Wednesday, March 16.
2/4: Rebecca LaPlante, president of the Brainerd Lakes Region League of Women Voters at the CLC’s annual Women’s History Month program on Wednesday, March 16.
3/4: CLC students Bailey Gabrio (left) and Nyssa Schultz discuss ’empowerment talk’ as they gather information at the Brainerd Lakes Region Women Voters League table during the annual Month of Empowerment program CLC women’s story on Wednesday, March 16.
4/4: The Brainerd Lakes Region Women Voters League table during the CLC’s annual Women’s History Month program on Wednesday, March 16.
TIM SPEIER, editor, can be reached on Twitter
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