Ferguson: More on equal rights (4-24-44)

The Pittsburgh Press (April 24, 1944)


Ferguson: More on equal rights

By Mrs. Walter Ferguson

Besides the National Woman’s Party who favors the proposed Equal Rights Amendment?

All those, say its advocates, who believe the time has come when women who are being asked to share equal responsibilities should be dignified by “real citizenship.”

All those, say its enemies, who are against organized labor, the reactionaries, the sheltered women who wish to wipe out all protective legislation for the working women.

Somewhere between these extremes one must search for facts.

Its friends argue that the amendment will not deprive mothers and children of their legal protection because that will be forthcoming anyway. On the other hand, women who are not mothers, and those who will remain in industry after the war must not be deprived of an equal wage and an equal political authority with men.

It is not privileges they want, the equal righters contend, it is the rights which are guaranteed to every citizen under the Constitution. When those are bestowed, protective legislation can follow. Until they are bestowed, there is no such thing as protective legislation, they argue.

So, while the amendment has many enemies, it also has many champions. Among organizations supporting it probably the most powerful is the General Federation of Women’s Clubs. Hundreds of leading men and women have endorsed it. The list includes Pearl Buck, Margaret Culkin Banning, Mary E. Woolley, Helen Hayes, Raymond Gram Swing, Irving Fisher, Carl Sandburg, James Truslow Adams, Rupert Hughes and Struthers Burt.

Does democracy mean that men and women are equal under the law? If not, what is to be the future status of American women?