The hosts talk with Zakiya Thomas and Bettina Hager from the ERA Coalition about the launch of the new Elect Equality tool. This easy-to-use online tool rates candidates and elected officials based on their support of the Equal Rights Amendment.
All episodes begin and end with the 2017 single “Rise” by rock group Betty (www.hellobetty.com)
“[The ERA would provide] more than just the patchwork of rights that we currently have that are being eroded every day.”Zakiya Thomas (15:50)
In this episode:
What the hosts and guests are pissed about (01:22)
What Elect Equality is and how it works (08:08)
How many more Senators need to support the ERA (17:30)
The process of amending the Constitution (19:53)
What the hosts think you should know (32:37)
The Hosts Start the Show by Sharing What They’re Pissed About
Betty Spence is pissed that the Senate failed to support veterans whose health was damaged by burn pits in the various wars that we’ve been involved in. Comedian Jon Stewart is also pissed and is using his platform to bring awareness to this issue, and Betty hopes that there is another vote on Monday, August 1st, and hopefully the bill will pass then.
Sherrye Henry is pissed that Pennsylvania Congressman Glenn Thompson voted against the House bill to protect gay marriage but attended his son’s marriage to another man. She’s pissed about the blatant hypocrisy and hopes that his constituents will vote him out.
Gloria Feldt is pissed that the ERA Coalition has to be doing the work that is it doing. She’s also pissed on behalf of Alice Paul, who wrote the Equal Rights Amendment in 1923. Alice Paul understood that women getting the right to vote wasn’t the end. Indeed, it was just the beginning of what women needed to do, and Gloria is pissed that almost 100 years on, we’re still fighting this battle.
Carol Jenkins is eternally pissed that the Equal Rights Amendment is still not a part of the Constitution after a nearly century-long battle for women’s equality.
Guest Zakiya Thomas is pissed about the hypocrisy in the House and Senate, especially in regards to how elected officials aren’t upholding the will of the people.
Guest Bettina Hager is pissed that the Equal Rights Amendment has met the stated qualifications to be an amendment to the Constitution and yet it still isn’t there.
The Long Game: Elect Equality
Zakiya gives a brief overview of the Elect Equality campaign and tool, which allows voters to find out where their elected officials and candidates stand on the Equal Rights Amendment.
From there, Bettina goes into some more depth on how Elect Equality highlights candidates that are really exceptional on the issue of the ERA. Information on where candidates stand on the issue comes from either public information or from the candidate returning a survey.
Certified candidates have been analyzed in a comprehensive way so that shows historical support for the ERA and has cast votes in support of the ERA and other key issues.
Sherrye thanks the ERA Coalition for compiling this data for voters and asks Bettina to explain how to use the tool, which can be found at www.electequality.org.
Put in your ZIP code and see filtered results with information on the incumbents, challengers, open seats, and their level of support of the ERA.
Betty asks how the Dobbs decision could impact the urgency of getting the ERA published in the Constitution. Zakiya states that the ERA would offer an extra layer of protection, a constitutional guarantee for a wide variety of rights.
What’s Stopping the ERA?
Gloria asks how many more Senators do the cosponsors of the bill need to remove the deadline on the ERA and why does that deadline need to be removed in the first place?
In terms of removing the deadline on the ERA, Zakiya explains that it isn’t necessary to get the ERA into the Constitution but removing the deadline would give more credence to the amendment.
Bettina breaks down what the Senate needs to do in terms of getting the votes:
- Only 8 more senators need to vote in favor of the ERA
- Currently, there are 2 Republicans who are in favor
- Additionally, all 50 of the Democratic senators are in favor
- A total of 60 senators would need to be on board to get the ERA passed into law
While the ERA isn’t the only amendment to be subject to a deadline, it is the only amendment that has been blocked solely by the deadline. There isn’t a deadline stated within Article V of the Constitution, which lays out the process of amending the Constitution, but it was instead enacted specifically to stop the amendment process.
The entire process of getting an amendment into the Constitution is:
- The House and the Senate must both vote to pass with a 2/3rd majority
- After that, 3/4th of the states must vote to ratify the amendment within their own state constitutions
- The Archivist should gather the signatures and then publish the amendment into the Constitution.
However, the ERA is being held up by the Archivist and the Office of Legal Counsel, who state that the deadline has passed and the ERA is dead. Sherrye asks what the Biden-appointed attorney general can do to move the ERA into the Constitution. The new Office of Legal Counsel stated that Congress can take action to remove the deadline, which didn’t fully open the door to getting the ERA into the Constitution, but it did leave the door ajar.
Zakiya discusses the importance of voting and not being discouraged by the current state of affairs. Voting and being active in the process will move the needle, and it will also show elected officials that they need to stand by their promises.
“The reason why they’re not taking action is because there are no consequences when they don’t.”Zakiya Thomas (25:32)
In a democracy, legislative bodies need to represent the views across the board, and the Elect Equality campaign is one step in helping voters to understand and recognize which candidates will support voting rights, equal rights, and reproductive rights.
Gloria asks how to mobilize and educate voters in the weeks and months leading up to the midterm elections on November 8th.
Volunteers Activities Include:
- Knock on doors to mobilize and help community members make plans to vote
- Make phone calls to educate voters
- Write postcards to inform people about ballot initiatives and candidates
Zakiya also stresses that more open, honest conversations with each other, even if we disagree, is critical to help decrease some of the division that those in power feed off of.
The Hosts Want You to Know:
There is good news about saving the Senate! Sherrye discusses the Born to Run the Numbers blog, Writer Tom Gardner offers 10 races that will decide Senate control, and he predicts Democrats will win 4 or 5 of them.
Kansans are heading to the polls on Tuesday for a crucial ballot initiative with regards to Roe v. Wade. Check in with Kansans for Constitutional Freedom to find out more, but in short:
Vote NO on the ballot initiative to preserve reproductive rights in Kansas.
Carol Jenkins wants listeners to read a New York Times article about her home state of Alabama and the ongoing impacts of an 1874 ban on increasing property tax. This led to the state being heavily dependent on traffic fines.
Zakiya Thomas is the president and CEO of the ERA Coalition. Thomas is also an adjunct professor at Georgetown Law, where she teaches a nonpartisan course on how to run for political office. A licensed social worker, Thomas volunteers as a group facilitator for a parenting education program, working with parents and children. She is also on the Board of Pro-Choice Virginia. Zakiya received a Master of Science in Social Work from Columbia University and a Bachelor of Science from the College of William and Mary.
Bettina Hager is the DC Director of the ERA Coalition and Fund for Women’s Equality. She also serves as the co-chair of the Equal Rights Amendment Task Force of the National Council of Women’s Organizations. Bettina has conducted focused lobby training workshops on the issue of Constitutional equality and oversaw the creation of a widely used ERA advocacy packet with information on how to contact elected officials, reach out to media and encourage constituency outreach. Bettina organized and moderated a Senate briefing on the three-state ratification strategy legislation sponsored by Sen. Cardin in April, 2014. She participated in a House briefing on the ERA, March, 2013, and was a speaker on grassroots organizing for the ERA at the ERA conference, Roger Williams University, Nov., 2013.