by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster
In the late 90s, Jennifer Macleod,PhD, a retired marketing executive in Princeton spoke to a group of girl scouts on equality for women. Still active in the chapter of NOW Jennifer started at Princeton in the early 1970s the scouts learned the ERA had failed ratification in 1982. They were moved to action and asked Ms. MacLeod for a project they could do as part of their scouting related to the Equal Rights Amendment.
Jennifer, one of the first women through the glass ceiling, an expert in polling, made up a short questionnaire. She showed the girls how polling must be done to accurately reflect the opinions of those polled.
There were three questions. Jennifer expected to find a sizable percentage of Americans opposed equality for women. Shocked, she discovered in every category those polled by the girl scout troop affirmed equality by around 96%.
The three questions were simple, answered with a YES or NO.
Question 1: "In your opinion, should male and female citizens of the United States have equal rights?"
Question 2: "As far as you know, does the Constitution of the United States make it clear that male and female citizens are SUPPOSED to have equal rights?"
Question 3: "In your opinion, SHOULD the Constitution make it clear that male and female citizens are supposed to have equal rights?"
By the late 90s most Americans believed the ERA was ratified. They are still wrong today.
The Constitution, the highest law in the land, does not recognize the equality of women today.
For equality to be more than a provisional privilege an amendment to the existing Constitution must be ratified by 2/3 of the state legislatures.
In 1972 everyone expected the 38 states required would rapidly ratify. Instead, it became a political football linked to issues having nothing to do with simple equality. The effort for ratification fell three states short when the deadline tolled in 1982.
On March 5 this year the Minnesota Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved a resolution asking Congress repeal the 1982 deadline. Other legislatures are following their lead. If Congress repeals the deadline the 15 states yet to ratify the ERA can consider the question anew and ratify.
When that happens Americans will be finally be right about the ERA. Jennifer's questions and the girl scouts who asked the questions, are a big part of the reason this is happening now.