Let’s Pass the Equal Rights Amendment

ERA The American Way

EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT

The U.S. Constitution does not guarantee equal rights for women. The only right guaranteed women in the United States have is the right to vote. The Equal Rights Amendment states:

“Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of sex.”

It is a simple statement that would define the meaning of “We the people” to include the majority of the population — that is women.

HERSTORY

SuffragettesSeneca Falls nourished abolitionism and feminism in the 1840s. Abolitionist Abby Kelly spoke against slavery at an outdoor rally there in 1843. One of her followers was later convicted of “disorderly and unchristian conduct” for arguing with the local Presbyterian minister about abolition.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Coffin Mott helped organize the first Women’s Rights Convention in 1848. Frederick Douglas’ impassioned support helped the convention pass the Women’s Declaration of Sentiments which proclaimed: “All men and women are created equal.”

In 1923 the National Women’s Rights party celebrated the 75th anniversary of the 1848 convention. Alice Paul, imprisoned, beaten and force fed for protesting President Wilson’s not supporting women’s rights, proposed the Equal Rights Amendment at the 1923 meeting in Seneca Falls.

Since 1923, activists have been trying to pass the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). US Congress first approved the ERA and sent it to the states for ratification in 1972. Within a year, 30 states had ratified. By the end of the seven-year deadline though, only 35 states ratified — three states short.

WITHOUT THE ERA

Virginia postWomen fighting for equal pay have no consistent judicial standard for deciding legal cases, with women earning 78 cents for every dollar earned by a man, with African American women and Latinas making even less, 64 cents and 53 cents The gender pay gap remains stalled. According to The Shriver Report, 1 in 3 American women, 42 million women, plus 28 million children, either live in poverty or are right on the brink of it. (The report defines the “brink of poverty” as making $47,000 a year for a family of four.) Two-thirds of American women are either the primary or co-breadwinners of their families. One out of every four women is a victim of domestic violence and one out of every five has been or will be raped. The ERA would help ensure fair consideration in court cases concerning the wage gap, and also in cases about domestic violence, rape, forced prostitution and sexual slavery. Finally. The gaps in poverty rates between men and women is wider than anywhere else in the western world with 75 percent of elderly Americans living in poverty which are women.

STEPS TAKEN

Graphic created by William Swanson for the 2008 Lambeth Conference, Canterbury, England

Graphic created by William Swanson for the 2008 Lambeth Conference, Canterbury, England

The Swanson Family founded Katrina’s Dream in memory of her late mother-in-law, Katrina Swanson. Katrina was one of the eleven first women priests who were irregularly ordained in 1974. When the ERA was voted down in the United States Katrina would say the Pledge of Allegiance, “with Liberty and Justice for SOME!” When questioned, ”Why ‘some’?” she would say, “Because the ERA was voted down retired women are more likely to live in poverty than men.”

In July 2007, a team was sent to the Lambeth Conference in Canterbury England where they distributed label pins bearing the saying, “God is Beyond Gender” to show their support for the LBGT community and women’s rights.  William and Helene Swanson received a blessing from Archbishop Rowen Williams for the ministry of Katrina’s Dream
Archbishop Rowan & Helene 2009 CroppedThe Archbishop of Canterbury sought out and engaged Helene Swanson regarding her work on women’s issues.  At the 76th General Convention in Anaheim, California, Katrina’s Dream was instrumental in the passage of Resolution 2009-D042, which called for the Episcopal Church of the United States of America’s to renew its historic support of passage of the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. [http://episcopalarchives.org/cgi-bin/acts/acts_resolution-complete.pl?resolution=2009-D042]

On March 8, 2011, citing support from Katrina’s Dream, Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) chose International Women’s Day to introduce legislation to speed ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the Constitution. [Please see ] In 20011, Katrina’s Dream’s Letter of Endorsement was included in Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin’s Resolution HJ 47- the “Three State Strategy” that resurrected the ERA.

Senneca FallsOn July 19, 2012, Helene made her first pilgrimage walking  500+ mile from the Women’s Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls, NY, on July 19, 2012.  The morning of the pilgrimage Helene, William Swanson and the Rev. Robert T. Coolidge took time to have morning prayer at Trinity Episcopal Church. She arrived in Washington DC on August 26, 2012, the 92nd anniversary of the 19th Amendment – the right for women to vote, the only right guaranteed women by the United States Constitution. Swanson walked from parish to parish, as an expression of her faith, to bring attention to the need for an Equal Rights Amendment for the full inclusion of women in society and for LBGTQ Rights.

Helene Swanson, made her second pilgrimage,   a 7,000 mile/10,000 kilometer pilgrimage, across the United States promoting the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA).  Helene started her journey on International Women’s Day Bridgewalk at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, CA on March 8, 2014.  She slept roadside, at the occasional good Samaritan’s home, and in churches along  her route. Helene made her way across Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and  Virginia all 15 of the 15 non-ratifying states

11054637_10205920600604569_1865506244_oWhile on her pilgrimage on March 8, 2015, Helene made an excursion to attend  the United Nation’s 59th Commission on the Status of Women/Beijing Platform 20. She met up with Lynnaia Main, Global Mission Officer of the Episcopal Church and and participated in the  United Nations International Women’s Day –  March and Rally at Times Square, New York City, New York.

2015-08-26 10.42.29She and a large group of people held a Women’s Equality Day Rally on August 26, 2015 walking the last four miles of her pilgrimage in solidarity to the Upper Senate Park, National Mall, Washington DC to promote Women’s Rights . In the days that followed they held a Call To Action Lobby Day where they met with this nation’s leaders to demand the passage of the federal Equal Rights Amendment.  Both ???? of US Representative Jackie Spier’s office and William Van Horn from Senator’s Bill Cardin’s Office read a letters in support of the Equal Rights Amendment . Click here to read Speier Women’s Equality Day Address 8-26-15 and Senator cardin letter era rally 08.26.15 (1)

Helene has garnered significant press coverage educating folks to the need for the Equal Rights Amendment.

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