To the editor:
When John Adams was working to create the language of the U.S. Constitution, Abigail Adams famously wrote to him saying, "remember the ladies." This was an important first step in the women's equality movement, but unfortunately women were still left out of our founding document. In the same way, women have been left out of the Minnesota Constitution. Nothing in our state constitution specifically states that women and men have equal protection under the law.
Sometimes we can look at the progress over the last century and think that our work is done. Women are equal. But that's not the case. Without constitutional protections, the laws that have helped move us closer to equality face the threat of being rolled back.
So where do we currently see gender inequalities? Women on average make $0.80 for every dollar that a man makes. This gap can be misleading though as women of color make less than that. Women 25 or older pay more in automobile insurance, items such as deodorant and socks cost more than they do for men, they are more likely than men to live in poverty, and they hold only 24 percent of positions in Congress despite the fact that they are a majority of the population.
For these reasons and many more, I support the passage of the Minnesota Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). The language in the proposed Minnesota ERA is simple: "Equality under the law shall not be abridged or denied on account of gender."
If passed, voters in 2020 would decide whether or not this amendment should be put in the Minnesota Constitution. I was able to watch the hearings on this bill and to listen to the arguments on both sides.
On March 7, when the Minnesota House voted on whether or not to put this important question on the ballot, I was incredibly disappointed to see Rep. Tony Jurgens, oppose this measure. As a woman, mother and member of this community, I expect more from my representation. How can we, as constituents, expect a representative who votes against "equality under the law" to represent all of us? We deserve better.
Kelsey Waits is a member of the Hastings School Board.