Please, sir, may I?, will not get us where we need to go.
WHAT: The Feminist Caucus of the Humanist Society of New Mexico will be on the West Concourse at the state Capitol on Friday, January 25, between 12:15 and 1:15 PM. We will be there to publicize and show support for the ERA Memorials (SM7 and HM7) that have been introduced by Senator Jacob Candelaria and Representative Gail Chasey. We will meet with legislators and members of the public to speak about the continuing need for an Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) in the United States.
WHY: Over the past 100 years many laws, judicial decisions and executive acts have helped women gain some basic human rights in our country. However, a quick perusal of news media any day will find stories about legislative efforts that curtail or rescind even the modest gains that have been made. Some state laws that address persistent wage disparity between women and men in the same job have been revoked. Even though abortion is a constitutionally protected right, in 2011 there were 92 provisions in state laws enacted nationally that restrict access to abortion services. The Violence against Women Act has not been reauthorized. Furthermore, even well-meaning federal laws have failed to achieve equality. The Equal Pay Act was signed in 1963 at a time when women earned $.59 for every $1.00 men were paid for the same work. That figure is now $.77 for women overall, $.69 for Black women and $.52 for Latinas. Contrary to popular belief, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 does not ensure equal pay for equal work. It only allows for a longer period of time during which suits against pay discrimination may be brought.
90 years after the introduction of the ERA we continue to fight every single act of injustice toward women with a plea to our mostly male legislative bodies for new laws that will protect us. However, it has become increasingly clear that protective legislation is not the answer. We believe that only the Equal Rights Amendment will guarantee women equal justice under the law and the right finally to participate fully as equal partners with men in our democracy.
WHO: The Feminist Caucus of the Humanist Society of NM is affiliated with the American Humanist Association. Its mission is to support and advance the cause of women’s rights at home and abroad. Our initial goal is to help ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (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.
The Caucus welcomes all who believe in the innate worth of all people and in shared social responsibility and who work to promote justice, equality and democracy in all areas of society.
Sylvia M. Ramos, M.D.
Chair, Feminist Caucus HSNM