ERA Task Force AZ’s Dianne Post, J.D., rallied supporters Dec. 4 at the Prescott Public Library. The Prescott American Association of University Women (AAUW) hosted the session, which was attended by the public and organizations including the League of Women Voters. Quad Cities Business News caught up with Post, who shared insights about the ERA.
QCBN: When and how did you first become aware of the ERA?
Post: When: I can’t recall exactly when, but it was when I was in college; probably 1968-1969. How: by my reading and study of women’s history. We didn’t have women’s history classes then, so one had to go to a woman’s bookstore or library and find the books.
QCBN: What was it that struck a chord with you?
Post: The truth. I knew I had been discriminated against from the day I started going to school at six. I knew it was not fair or right. I had worked on many other causes prior to going to college. But in college, I thought: the closest cause to me is women’s rights.
QCBN: How has your involvement evolved over time?
Post: At 20, I was a “worker bee” in a group. Now, I am 71 and an attorney so I have a different set of skills that I can put to use.
QCBN: What does passage of the ERA mean to you?
Post: It brings to fruition the hopes and dreams and work of millions of women, since the 1700s, when Abigail Adams told John Adams that, when writing the Constitution, not to forget the women. He did. And we have been fighting to correct that mistake ever since. We must – and we will – carry on that struggle through to the end.
QCBN: Why should people support the ERA?
Post: More than 80 percent of American people from all parties, cultural groups and ages support the ERA because it is the right, just and moral thing to do. It will protect women and men, girls and boys, to ensure that everyone is able to be treated with fairness and have opportunity in the U.S., as the American dream says we should. It will fulfill our long-betrayed promise of equality to all.
QCBN: How does the support of men add value and/or weight to the fight for equal rights for women? Why should men care?
Post: The ERA protects men, too. It says no discrimination on account of sex [and] that includes men. In the past, men were [deemed] guilty of women’s crimes because women could not be held liable. Men had to pay women’s debts because women could have or hold no money. This kind of infantilism was detrimental to women and burdensome to men. We have moved a long way from that with hundreds of years of struggle, but we are not done without the ERA. When men and women have [legally] equal relationships, both prosper as they shed myths and shibboleths (outmoded customs), burdens and penalties, and, in fact, can be the persons they are. That’s called freedom.
QCBN: Why should Arizona be the 38th state to ratify?
Post: Arizona was once a beacon for women’s rights. Women could vote in Arizona in 1912, and Rachael Berry, from Apache County, was the first woman legislator elected in Arizona in 1914, before women in the rest of the country could even vote. Isabel Greenway was Arizona’s first congresswoman and only representative from 1933-1935. Arizona holds the record for the most women governors (four, three in a row) and having women hold all state offices at the same time (1998).
The first woman appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court came from Arizona. In fact, Sandra Day O’Connor introduced the ERA in the Arizona House. A ratification resolution has been introduced in the Arizona House or Senate, or both, every year since before 1982. Yet, it has not been heard.
The ERA has enjoyed massive public support for decades. Yet, in Arizona, a state with historic high levels of women in the state legislature, several women governors and at one time, five top state offices held by women, it can’t even get a hearing. Arizona needs to reclaim its place in the march toward equality by ratifying the ERA today and moving toward that day that all discrimination will end.
QCBN: What is the game plan now to advance the cause?
Post: The Republican-dominated Senate and House need to hear the bill in committee and pass it there and on the floor. We ask everyone to contact their state senator and two state representatives and ask them to co-sponsor, support and vote for the ERA. We especially ask men who care about their wives, mothers, sisters and daughters to take up this fight.
QCBN: What kind of support is needed and how can people get involved?
Post: Besides speaking to your state legislators, get active in your local legislative districts, and county and state parties. Ask them to pass a resolution in favor of the ERA and send it to your elected representatives. Write letters and opinion pieces to the editor of your local newspaper. Call in to local talk shows, and urge your neighbors to support it. Get educated about the ERA and then spread that education to your church, your neighborhood and your card club. QCBN
By Sue Marceau, QCBN
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