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More ERA Information
February 11, 2003

Dear Illinois Friend,

The old Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) has reared its ugly head in the Illinois General Assembly. The House Judiciary I—Civil Law Committee approved it 12 to 6 on February 5, and ERA could come to a vote by the full House on Wed., February 19 or any day after that. We need your immediate action to phone State Representatives and ask them to vote NO. Find your Representative's phone number (PDF file).

The Illinois General Assembly debated and defeated ERA every year for ten years, 1972-1982. In all that time the ERAers were never able to show that ERA would give any benefit to women. ERA is a fraud. Illinois has said NO to ERA. The United States has said NO to ERA. Let ERA rest in peace.

There is much recent evidence to confirm the wisdom of Illinois' decision to reject ERA. This evidence comes from state court decisions in the states that foolishly put a federal-style "State ERA" in their state constitutions.

  ERA would require taxpayer funding of abortions. ERA would make it impossible to reverse the court order that Illinois must pay for Medicaid abortions. 32 states do not have to pay for abortions (except for rape, incest and life of the mother), but a federal ERA would require it. We know this because New Mexico's state supreme court ruled on November 25, 1998 that its State ERA requires it because of the ERAers' reasoning that, since only women undergo abortions, the denial of taxpayer funding is "sex discrimination." (N.M. Right to Choose/NARAL v. Johnson, 975 P.2d 841, 1998)

The Illinois court order is a good example of how activist judges subvert the meaning of the law. We don't want to give the courts the power to order all kinds of ERA mischief. Rep. Henry Hyde has said that ERA would lock abortion into the U.S. Constitution so that reversing Roe v. Wade would make no difference. He says that you can't call yourself pro-life if you vote pro-ERA (in its current language).

  ERA would legalize same-sex marriages. Without an ERA, Congress in 1996 was able to pass the Defense of Marriage Act (P.L. 104-199), which states that for purposes of federal law, "the word `marriage' means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word `spouse' refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife." That federal law, and 36 similar state laws (including the Illinois law passed in 1996), would be swept away if ERA goes into the U.S. Constitution. ERA would make same-sex marriages a constitutional right. Many legal authorities have predicted that same-sex marriages would be required by ERA based on the plain meaning of the language: the word used in ERA is "sex" not women. The Hawaii experience provides further proof of the effect on same-sex marriages. (Baehr v. Lewin, 852 P.2d 44, 1993)

  ERA would require women to be equally assigned to all combat positions in the military (and to be drafted if Rep. Charles Rangel succeeds in his bill to reinstate the draft). "Combat" includes positions from which women are now excluded such as ground infantry and submarines. We are now preparing for a nasty war against Iraq, and we do not want social experimentation and judicial activism to interfere with readiness.

  ERA Would Multiply the Mischief of Title IX. Radical feminists in the federal bureaucracy have enforced Title IX (a good law that simply prohibits discrimination "on the basis of sex") in extreme ways that were never intended. They have forced colleges and universities to abolish 171 wrestling teams (40% of the national total), plus hundreds of other sports in which men excel such as men's gymnastics, golf and football, many of them trophy-winning teams. Of the 138 men's gymnastics programs in 1972, only 20 remain. Thousands of male athletes have lost opportunities as a result. Our experience with Title IX is a good lesson in what radical feminists and activist judges can do with the word "sex."

  There is no possibility that ERA will ever be ratified in 38 states, so an Illinois vote is just ERA trouble-making and raising false hopes. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on October 4, 1982 that ERA is "moot" regardless of whether it died at its original deadline (1979) or at the end of the extension voted by Congress (1982). (NOW v. Idaho, 459 U.S. 809, 1982) A new ERA resolution has been introduced into Congress in every session since 1983, and every time either defeated or met with a deafening silence. No other state will ratify ERA. ERA has no hope of being approved by Congress since the current Congress is more pro-life than ever.

We need your urgent help to defeat ERA mischief. Please phone Illinois State Representatives today and urge them to vote NO on ERA. Concepts such as "equality" and "fairness" cannot be advanced through dishonest procedures.

Phyllis Schlafly

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