Coconino Voices: Flagstaff set to debate the Equal Rights Amendment

Coconino Voices: Flagstaff set to debate the Equal Rights Amendment

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Now that the Flagstaff City Council stands poised to protect the legal status of American women and their families by approving the landmark quest for Arizona to become the 38th and milestone state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), elected officials must hear from supportive constituents. That’s where you come in. Arm yourself with the facts and speak up for equality.

A resolution endorsing the ERA comes before the council Sept. 3. Other Arizona municipalities already have passed the resolution because local advocates successfully debunked urban myths and affirmed for lawmakers the generous payback of equality for all American citizens, regardless of gender.

The ERA’s language is precise, simple and non-negotiable: "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex."

American women appallingly remain vastly underrepresented, underpaid, and undervalued despite being 50.8 percent of the population, earning 60 percent of both undergraduate and master’s degrees, and representing 47 percent of the labor force. You can help correct those injustices by convincing our council to forward a signed resolution to the state legislature.

The ERA triggers economic advantages for every American man, woman and child. While guaranteeing equal pay for equal work, the amendment also establishes and enforces solid legal protections for equality. Consequently, logic fails to explain how anyone — male or female — can deny their mother, fiancé, wife, or female sibling(s) access to educational and workforce opportunities now reserved only for men and boys.

The bottom line, setting aside emotional bonds, is that household income and financial security directly affect the entire family’s current and future quality of life. The current outlook for Flagstaff’s 38 percent of single-parent households (mostly headed by women) remains pervasive. Cyclical and generational poverty is smacking them down at every turn.

Arizona’s gender-based wage discrepancies total nearly $6 billion a year, equating to an average loss of $7,000 a year for each working woman. Female employees earn 81.8 cents on average for every dollar paid to men in equivalent positions, and at the present rate, are not expected to reach wage parity for another 29 years.

One year after college graduation, women in the workforce already earn 7 percent less than male counterparts. This gap exists even when accounting for college major, occupation, industry, sector, hours worked, workplace flexibility, experience, educational attainment, enrollment status, GPA, college selectivity, age, race/ethnicity, region, marital status and motherhood.

Advancing women’s equality will add a whopping $2.1 trillion to $4.3 trillion to the U.S. economy in the next decade, according to the Economist magazine. The ERA expands human potential and the pursuit of the American dream by encouraging and achieving the best from everyone, enhancing the U.S. as an economic engine, and making lives better for society. It guarantees equality under the law in career opportunities, compensation, judicial decisions, health care, education, and overall economic security.

Passage of the ERA will provide the assurance of legal recourse when an individual faces discrimination of any type. The judicial rules applied will be the same for one and all. Similar rights are not permanent under existing disjointed federal legislation aimed at interim solutions. Sadly, laws created by acts of Congress or presidential decree remain vulnerable to indiscriminate alteration or reversal by subsequent lawmakers and administrations.

To be absolutely clear, the ERA does not mandate abortion, women’s roles in the military, or the configuration of public restrooms. Such distortions are desperate attempts by opponents whipping up ill-founded panic and fear of change. There is no evidence at all that providing equality to women and girls will disrupt the social order, break up families or destroy the moral fiber of the country. Do not believe or spread a word of those deliberate deceptions.

Only by stripping away patently false narratives, can we engage in honest and meaningful discussion about pursuit of the American dream and the ERA’s promise that all Americans – male or female – deserve equal access to the education, resources and mentorship to achieve it.

ERA endorsement by the Flagstaff City Council ranks up there with Neil Armstrong’s “one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” Pressure from Arizona cities and towns effectively prompting the state legislature to initiate floor discussion and pass the amendment is another. Powerful politicians and lobbyists continue to subject women to workforce abuse and the whims of oppressors and predators. This must stop now.

ERA Task Force Arizona, the League of Women Voters Flagstaff, and Indivisible Sedona urge Flagstaff voters to share the facts about the ERA with the Flagstaff City Council on Sept. 3. Write or call them in advance to express your support. Fill the council chambers with voices rationally urging council to endorse the ERA and push the Arizona legislature to pass it in 2020. If you can’t be present, let your voice be heard through phone and email advocacy.

As long as women are not specifically covered by the Bill of Rights, they are subject to arbitrary legislation without adequate defense. Let no American woman or family be left behind. Rise now to ratify.

ERA Task Force AZ is a coalition of organizations and individual volunteers pushing to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) in Arizona in 2019.  The coalition’s participating members include the American Association of University Women (AAUW), the League of Women Voters (LWV), the National Organization for Women (NOW), Mormons for ERA, Peer Solutions, and Next Gen.


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