To the editor:
Did you know there isn't an amendment to the Minnesota or U.S. constitutions that specifically states women and men have equal rights and protection under the law? On March 7, the Minnesota House passed the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA).
Hastings House Rep. Tony Jurgens voted against it. And although Sen. Karla Bigham supports the ERA, the Minnesota Senate is being blocked from even hearing it by Senate leaders unwilling to support equal rights for all people under the law, and unwilling to let Minnesotans decide this issue on a ballot.
Yes, I understand that crafty legislators attached issues to the bill to muddy its intent - issues I won't address so I stay focused. The ERA legislative discussion on March 7, had many arguing over what "gender" means, and that Minnesotans will be confused if it's not defined, and thus unable to understand the ERA, if put on a ballet.
Seriously? I think we're smart enough to understand that defining gender is beside the point. It doesn't matter what gender you identify - can't we simply agree that all people are equal under the law?
As president of the American Association of University Women of Minnesota (AAUW MN), and President of AAUW - Hastings, I and other AAUW members attended the ERA Rally at the Capitol on March 8. It was uplifting and encouraging. I was proud to represent AAUW, a national organization that's been empowering women since 1881. No, that's not a typo - and we're still fighting for equal rights. Unbelievable.
Why are some elected officials afraid of the ERA? Why are some people still being denied equal rights under the law? I don't get it. If you're a woman, if you're transgender, if you're a man who respects and cares about the women in your life, you get this. The AAUW encourages all who support the ERA to contact elected officials and tell them this way overdue amendment must be added to the Minnesota and U.S. constitutions. Together, let's get this done!
Lisa West is the president of AAUW MN and AAUW - Hastings.