How Phyllis Schlafly Derailed the Equal Rights AmendmentHistorians in the News
tags: conservatism, feminism, womens history, Equal Rights Amendment, Phyllis Schlafly, antifeminism
In 1972, it seemed ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment was all but a sure thing.
First introduced to Congress in 1923 by suffragist Alice Paul, the proposed 27th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which stated "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex," had passed with both bipartisan and public support and was sent to the state legislatures for ratification.
But the ERA included a seven-year ratification time limit clause (which Congress extended to 1982), and although 35 of 38 state legislatures needed for a three-quarters majority had voted to ratify the amendment, its proponents hadn’t counted on a conservative grassroots movement led by activist and lawyer Phyllis Schlafly that would ultimately lead to the ERA’s defeat, falling three states shorts.
"What I am defending is the real rights of women," Schlafly said at the time. "A woman should have the right to be in the home as a wife and mother."