by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster
Luanne Hale gave us a ride to the Membership Meeting for the League of Women Voters on Tuesday.. The day was just mellowing to dusk as we arrived at The Winery at Spring Hill.
The LWV, founded by Carrie Chapman Catt in 1920, began its work championing legislation. Today the League focuses on organizing debates and forums for candidates and issues.
Affirming women's right to vote, was a long time coming. Although women had capitalized the Revolution with sweat equity and, in the New England States, expected to be confirmed in their rights when the war was won, this didn't happen.
A Quaker , Lucretia Mott, née Coffin, began the long battle for women's rights in the years after the Revolution as one of her chosen causes.
In 1848 Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, called the first Women's Convention at Seneca Falls, New York.
The Convention came at a time when the new country was alive with movements for social justice. Women had just found an avenue to independence as teachers, working for about one-third the salary paid to men.
Stanton and Mott declared a revolution for women echoing the 1776 Declaration of Independence, in their 1848 Declaration of Sentiments. As the chief philospher of the coming generation, Stanton applied the theories of Natural Rights in her work.
Voting was only one of these goals. Seventy years would pass before the 19th Amendment, spear-headed by Alice Paul, ratified women's right to vote.
Equally under the Constitution, their primary goal, is yet to be achieved. Partisan divisions are at the core of this failure, which leaves women vulnerable to legislative acts at the state level.
Strong supporters of the 19th Amendment, the LWV did not support Paul's Equal Rights Amendment when it was introduced in 1923. A divergence in agendas had divided women.
Democrats opposed the ERA through the New Deal of the 30s, as did labor unions, not uniting behind the proposed amendment until 1972.
The Republican Party Platform included the ERA beginning in 1940, continuing support until Ronald Reagan removed, as requested by Joseph Coors, a significant donor, in 1980.
The partisan division which began in 1923 reverses neatly under the beginning hegemony of the Neocons.
Wording, ERA “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex. “
And it was a lovely dinner.