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.
Seneca Falls nourished abolitionism and feminism inÂ the 1840s. Abolitionist Abby Kelly spoke against slavery at an outdoor rally there in 1843. One of her followers was later convicted of â€œdisorderly 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 Womenâ€™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). U.S. 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
Women 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 cent racial based 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.
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 Rowan Williams for the ministry of Katrina’s Dream
The 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 to renew its historic support of the 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’sDream, 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. Â 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.
On July 19, 2012, Helene made her first pilgrimage walking Â 500+ miles from the Women’s Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls, NY, on July 19, 2012. Â 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 to 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). Â 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 Â Virginia all 15 of the 15 non-ratifying states
While on her pilgrimage on March 8, 2015, Helene made an excursion to attend Â 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 participated in the Â United Nations International Women’s Day – Â March and Rally at Times Square, New York City, New York.
She 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 U.S. Representative Jackie Spier’s office and William Van Horn from Senator Bill Cardin’s Office read 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 coverageeducating folks on the need for the Equal Rights Amendment.
Helene continued to hold rallies for the next two years walking from St. Stephen’s and the Incarnation Episcopal Church in Washington D.C., passing by the White House where they would gather at the Upper Senate Park. At these events, many came together forming a collective of like-minded people speaking to the need for passing the E.R.A. They are: Dr. Kimberly S. Adams, Adams Political Research & Consulting and Professor of Political Science at East Stroudsburg University; Delegate Angela M. Angel, Maryland General Assembly; Ms. Triana Arnold-James, Reigning Mrs. Georgia, Founder of The Susan Jolley Awareness Program; Eileen Davis, Women Matter; Sharon J. Hill, National Women’s Political Caucus, National First Vice President of Development; Jacqueline Nantier Hopewell, We Are Woman; Sabrina McKenzie, Legislative Clergy Council, Dancing Preachers International; Tammy Simkins, ERA Action; Nevada State Senator Patricia Spearman, Pastor Dr. E.Â Faye Williams, National Congress of Black Women; Portia Boulger, Appalachians Rising; Holly Joseph and Linda Smith of MD NOW and ERA Action; Senator Roger Manno, Maryland State Senator; Don Christensen, Colonel USAF (Ret). President of Protect Our Defenders; and Kylie Narantsin Vice president of U.S. China Chamber of Commerce to name a few.
During that time the 2015 Nevada General Assembly introduced their first bill calling for Nevada to ratify. Helene’s pilgrimage was cited as the inspiration. In the following legislative session, many organizations came together to move the 2017 Nevada General Assembly. Nevada then ratified the Equal Rights Amendment and it was accepted by the National Archivist and Records Administration (N.A.R.A.).] On May 30, 2018, Illinois followed suit with the help of Jeanne Marie Dauray and Andrea Miller of People Demanding Action, Michelle Flattery of Illinois NOW. That too was accepted by the NARA, On January 15, 2020, through the organizational efforts of the ERA Coalition, Equal Means Equal, VA Ratify the ERA, and so very many more Virginia became the 38th state to ratify the E.R.A.
Sharon J. Hill joined the program The Call in the summer of 2017 to become one of the three hosts who have consistently called upon the U.S. Congress to procedural remedy retroactively remove the deadline on the E.R.A. as authorized under Article V of the U.S. Constitution. Freeda Cathcart of By the Women for the Women Vote pinched hit as a co-host from time to time. The Call has been held continuously since the historic pilgrimage with Guest Speakers who represent a diverse group of folks from across the nation. It was Sharon’s efforts to move members of the U.S. Congress from Georgia to ratify that pushed the necessary 218 co-sponsors to hold the house vote. U.S. Representative Jackie Speier along with U.S. Representative Carolyn Maloney continued to push forward inching each step of the way. On April 30, 2019, Helene’s written testimony was entered into the record at the U.S. House Judiciary’s U.S. Constitutional Sub-committee Hearing. Then the following February 13, 2020, the U.S. House held the vote on HJ Res. 79 and with a resounding YEA votes it crossed over to the U.S. Senate.
Senators Ben Cardin and Lisa Murkowski Lead Sponsors of the companion bill in the U.S. Senate are working together to bridge both sides of the aisle to come together on the principles this country was founded upon.
Katrina’s Dream held its first parallel event Let’s Pass the Equal Rights Amendmentat the 63rd United Nations Commission on the Status of Women’s conference on March 11, 2019. The attendees were welcomed by Bishop Musonda Selwyn Trevor Mwamba, and was facilitated by Helene and the panel consisted of Carol Jenkins, Co-President and CEO of ERA Coalition; Kate Kelly, Human Rights Attorney at Equality NOW; Gilda Yazzie, Vice-President of National Organization for Women and is an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation, and Professor Julie Chi-Suk, followed by a Q & A session. A satellite event was held by the Chillicothe-Ross Valley County League of Women Voters. Sharon stood vigil at the steps of the Georgia State Capitol Building.
Katrina’s Dream was to hold its second event Going Global at this year’s 2020 UN CSW 64/ Beijing Platform 25 + Conference. Unfortunately, the event along with many other parallel events was canceled due to the covid-19 global outbreak as the health of the 50,000 + delegates, attendees, and participants from across the globe are a priority. Efforts are now well on their way as many regroup. Â Katrina’s Dream donated the monies that were to be refunded back to the NGO UNCSWto further support that organization’s good work.
Much progress has been made, the US Senate Chamber is poised to Remove the Deadline on the Equal Rights Amendment. Having reached the requisite number of ratified states on January 27, 2020; and the US House having adopted H.J. Res. 17, this past March 2021, with bi-partisan support; and with advocates and activists now focusing on the US Senate, S.J. Res. 1 is gaining momentum and support. Katrina’s Dream has been actively scheduling teleconferences with US Senators since the beginning of the year. The ask is for them the Senators to co-sponsor on SJ Res. 1 and bring on their colleagues, and for the Judiciary to hold hearings, and then subsequently bring the resolution to the floor for a vote.
This upcoming year, Katrina’s Dream is holding a parallel The Equal Rights Amendment: Faith and Politics and also has an exhibitor’s booth at the Conference at the 50th Anniversary United Nation Commission on the Status of Women. Do please register for the forum and check out all the events and panels.
Please check back on this page for updates on our progress. Thanks!