Archive for May, 2009

Women Created Memorial Day

May 26, 2009

I read this in my morning women enews and thought it particularly poignant.

Women Created Memorial Day
Run Date: 05/25/09
By Joan Wages
WeNews commentator
The forgotten role that women played in the creation of Memorial Day is just one example of how women’s history has been overlooked. Joan Wages says we need a permanent reminder of the experiences of American women.

(WOMENSENEWS)–Much of women’s history is missing from our public story. One more example; women were almost entirely responsible for the recognition of Memorial Day. Its origin was the Civil War and until recently, the day focused on the terrible War between the States that, at tremendous human cost, ended legalized racial slavery in the United States.

Just weeks after the Civil War ended in April 1865, Ellen Call Long organized a women’s memorial society to reconcile embittered enemies. Usually named some variant of “women’s relief society,” groups sprang up in both the North and South that not only memorialized the dead, but also cared for the war’s disabled and its widows and orphans.

Turning Gore Into Reflection
On June 22, 1865, women adopted these profound, forgiving and future-oriented resolutions. The document read in part:

“The object of this meeting is to initiate a Memorial Association . . . that shall perpetuate in an honorable manner the memory of the gallant dead . . .

In no invidious spirit do we come; the political storm that shook our country to its foundation, we hope, is passed . . . We are done with the [Confederate] cause . . . and are willing to do all that women can do to stem the tide of bitterness . . . and angry feelings . . . We will practice and teach forbearance and patience, which must finally bring peace and justice . . . ”

Our society has forgotten that women cleaned up the mess. They took the gruesome reality of approximately a half-million dead men, and by promoting cemeteries, led the way in turning blood and gore into something that encouraged serenity and reflection.

In our nation’s capital filled with museums, there is not one to remind us of the totality of the experience of American women. The National Women’s History Museum is urging Congress to pass legislation that will provide a permanent home for women’s history in our nation’s capital.

Joan Wages is the president of the National Women’s History Museum, which was founded in 1996 in Washington, D.C.

Only 3 more states…

May 19, 2009

It would only take 3 more states to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. What great news right? But it appears that it may be harder to accomplish than getting the first 33! Check out this awesome piece that was in the Philadelphia Inquirer last month.

ERA would end women’s second-class citizenship
Only three more states are needed to declare gender bias unconstitutional.

Carolyn Cook
is the Washington representative for the ERA Campaign Network

When our forefathers broke from Britain, they left nothing to chance. They put it in writing.

In unified thought, spirit, and action, the Declaration of Independence was signed by 56 white, male landowners representing 13 colonies. Hardly reflective of America today, it formally challenged the notion of the “divine right of kings” and guaranteed wealthy men equal rights.

The Declaration of Independence provides the rationale through which the U.S. Constitution is interpreted. Therefore, the Supreme Court renders its judgments based on a legal precedent established 239 years ago of equality among men only!

With only one justice and one quarter of judges in state courts female, the odds are not in our favor. Furthermore, without the explicit wording and intention of women’s rights documented in the principles of our government, women remain second-class citizens until we unite and declare otherwise.

Justice Antonin Scalia affirms this stark reality. “When a practice not explicitly prohibited by the text of the Bill of Rights bears the endorsement of a long tradition of open, widespread, and unchallenged use, that dates back to the beginning of the Republic, we have no proper basis for striking it down,” he wrote.

More than two dozen amendments to the Constitution have granted critical civil and political rights. Steadily, our cultural landscape transformed from horrific human rights violations to electing the first Catholic and African American male presidents. Stunning triumphs, and yet our moral compass must not ignore the double standard that remains – gender discrimination.

Without a uniform guarantee of equality across 50 states, there is no assurance of women’s progress. The stopgap of laws arbitrarily sprinkled throughout the states, subjectively interpreted by courts and subject to being overturned by a single vote, has failed us. Unwise “investors” bank on the security and protection of state laws, assuming these measures are sufficient. They build castles made of sand that the changing tides in legislatures can sweep away without a trace.

Verbal, sexual, and physical assaults have become commonplace; advertising exploits our bodies and limits our self-concept; wage disparity and insufficient family support persist in employment; and caregivers are not yet eligible for Social Security.

The omission of women in the U.S. Constitution has had far-reaching consequences for far too long. The time to take action is now.

The Equal Rights Amendment updates America’s original social contract. It calls upon the U.S. government to modernize its structures, laws, and policies to reflect the progress and contributions of the other half of its taxpaying citizens.

Just three more states are needed to ratify the ERA as the 28th Amendment. Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Florida (2009), and Virginia (2010) are attempting to officially declare men and women equal stakeholders in America’s future. With an economy to recover, international relations to mend, and corruption to end, all hands must be joined in this effort.

ERA simply states: “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 ERA invests in women’s social progress – offering them the dignity and respect they are entitled to as individuals and citizens of this democracy. It is high time our government declare gender discrimination unconstitutional as it has nobly done with race. With a uniform guarantee of equality upheld in all 50 states, women’s progress at home, at work, and in their communities will be measured and protected by the full extent of the law.


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