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Equal Rights Amendment gets another introduction in Florida Legislature

Those who were around in the 1970s remember the ubiquitous ERA YES buttons and bumper stickers promoting the Equal Rights Amendment.

Though the ERA never made it to the U.S. Constitution, as the amendment failed to be ratified by 3/4 of the states by 1982, the ERA will yet again be considered (and likely not passed, if history is a guide) by the Florida Legislature this session.

A concurrent resolution sponsored by Rep. Daisy Baez and Sen. Audrey Gibson in their respective houses was filed on Monday.

Sen. Gibson reminds us that the “ERA has been filed every year hoping for ratification to get to enough states to add the amendment to the Constitution.”

And indeed, it has.

Back in 2013, for example, Arthenia Joyner discussed her filing of the bill.

“Florida women are at the forefront of research, medicine, engineering, law, politics and even military operations overseas – yet without any constitutional protections of their right to equality,” Joyner said in a news release. “In the 10 years I’ve sponsored this bill, I have yet to hear a reasonable explanation for why this state should not ratify the ERA.”

The battle for ERA passage has been tortuous, to be sure.

The indispensable Florida Memory site documents some primary history from the 1970s heyday of the ERA, including a letter from the Jacksonville Coalition for the ERA to Sen. Bruce Smathers.

Despite the passage of time, the arguments ERA proponents raised to Smathers, a Jacksonville Democrat in the tradition of a bygone era, are worthy of note.

“Opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) is a blow to all Americans who believe that an individual’s rights and responsibilities should not be dependent upon sex or marital status,” the argument went from the Jacksonville Coalition.

“Why is it that men and women are not equally treated in awarding of child custody? Why is it that men and women are not considered equally in promotions? Please help change these inequities. Vote for, speak for, encourage support of the Equal Rights Amendment.”

 

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a working journalist for over two decades, with bylines in national and local publications alike on subjects ranging from pop music to national and global politics. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014, and has held a column in Jacksonville, Florida's Folio Weekly for two decades. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." Gancarski is a frequent presence on Jacksonville television and radio, including fill-in slots on WJCT-FM's award-winning talk show "First Coast Connect." He can be reached at a.g.gancarski@gmail.com.

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