Tuesday, February 28, 2017

All People Have Rights!

At least they should.
Equal rights was dictated in the “Declaration of Independence”, but was never included in the U.S. Constitution. If this was such an important talking point for our founders, why was it not included?

The answer is simple, and found in the Federalist and Anti-Federalist papers which debated the final version of the U.S. Constitution which was ratified at the Constitutional Convention of 1787. The founders all owned slaves, as did their constituents, and a declaration of equal rights would mean they would need to give up those slaves; not a politically savvy move at the time. Also, women were considered to have virtually no rights at the time. Equal rights would mean that women could vote and hold office; also not favorable at the time.

You can see that today we have a Constitution which intentionally denies rights to such an extent that gender and race related amendments have already been added to guarantee some rights to women and people of color. Today virtually every developed country and the United Nations have incorporated equal rights into law, yet we still have not.

Now is the time to guarantee the rights of ALL people under the law!

The National Council of Women’s Organizations has stated that “An April 2012 poll for Daily Kos/SEIU found that 91% of Americans believe men and women should have equal rights affirmed by the Constitution. A July 2001 Opinion Research Corporation survey showed that 96% of U.S. adults believe that male and female citizens should have equal rights, and 88% believe that the U.S. Constitution should affirm that these rights are equal. However, nearly three-quarters of the respondents – 72% – mistakenly believed that the Constitution already includes such a guarantee.”

Why has this not passed before? It all began in 1923 when suffragist leader Alice Paul proposed and introduced the equal rights amendment which guaranteed equal rights under the law regardless of sex. It was designed to ensure equal rights for women. It failed miserably (of course, in the all-male Congress of 1923 how could such an amendment even have been considered.)

As black rights and the riots of the 1960’s came into play, the women’s movement figured this was a good time to try again. In 1972 a resurrected Equal Rights Amendment passed strongly in Congress. So what happened thereafter? The amendment never ratified! Why? Simple – It singled out women. Many women’s groups actually battled against the amendment fearing it would take away their “special” privileges, such as those granted in alimony, custody or other battles (my home state of Pennsylvania, has an equal rights amendment, as do many other states, and this has not been found to cause any such problems.) And then there is the male population – many still not supportive since they consider it a “female” thing.

The problem? While it is great to level the playing field for women, the ERA as written failed to address the many others who have historically suffered discrimination, and as history has proven; that which is not written is not to be assumed. Additionally, there are some special cases where equality can’t be granted, or where the amendment would be contradictory to other aspects of the Constitution.

So, given that in 90 years, the ERA has failed, despite repeated annual attempts to ratify or pass with modifications, you would think that someone would realize it’s never going to pass and ratify as written! Nor will it pass if it is loaded with right or left leaning special interest exemptions or inclusions.

Thus, after spending roughly 20 years researching this, I have written an updated version of the Equal Rights Amendment. With support of more people and more groups and vocal promotion it stands a much better chance of passing. It covers all people. Such an amendment also helps to prevent reverse discrimination, which is the taking of one person’s rights and giving them to another.

This proposed amendment has been run by liberal and conservative groups, churches, and others, and has been looked at by several attorneys and members of the Congress. It has been universally accepted by all thus far.

A Constitutional amendment provides precedence, not law. Other amendments have tried to incorporate law for special interests, and have failed. This amendment will assure women’s rights, men’s rights, racial rights and gender rights in all circumstances.

Please, let’s stop trying to ride that old horse that just won’t get up and move and get something going that stands a chance of passing! Let’s do it right this time.

Our proposed amendment:

Sec. 1. Equality of rights under the Constitution and laws or edicts of the nation and states and every place subject to its jurisdiction shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, religion, sex, gender, age, disability, national origin, class, rank or station in life.
Sec. 2. This amendment shall not supersede any other article or amendment, and does not preclude special circumstances for which no reasonable accommodations can be engendered.
Sec. 3. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
Sec. 4. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.

*  Andrew Shecktor, author; Katrina Domkowski, co-sponsor.  *

“I'm not an activist; I don't look for controversy. I'm not a political person, but I'm a person with compassion. I care passionately about equal rights. I care about human rights. I care about animal rights.” -  Ellen DeGeneres

“I believe the equal rights amendment is a necessity of life for all citizens. The cabinet sometimes felt that I shouldn't be so outspoken.” -  Betty Ford