Florida E.R.A. Push

By: Mike Vasilinda
By: Mike Vasilinda

Florida was the national battleground for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment through most of the 1970's and early 1980's. The amendment fell three states shy of ratification in 1982, but now the amendment is back.

Ten thousand women came to the capitol in 1982 to fight for the Equal
Rights amendment. They lost, over worries of drafting women and unisex bathrooms, but now the amendment is back.

Supporters believe the 1992 ratification of a 200-year-old amendment has breathed new life into the era.

"The anger isn't hear anymore, the time has come that we should be treated equally in the constitution," said Senator Gwen Margolis, D-Miami, bill sponsor.

But women like 77-year-old Ruth Klopfenstein, are still wearing their faded Stop Era buttons.

"Frustrated feminists are like leeches, they come back again and again, and again," Klopfenstein, a homemaker, said.

Klopfenstein's remarks met with snickers from the audience. But passing the era is no laughing matter to 16-year-old Broward High School student Katie Young.

This will affect me because I want to get paid the same as a man does. He does the same job, I deserve it," said Young.

Senators approved the amendment by a six to three vote

In addition to a questionable legal foundation the political future of the Equal Rights Amendment is uncertain, it has two more stops in the Senate, then onto the House, where there doesn't seem to be much interest.

But supporters say they've fought for 30 years and can fight some more.

"Women are back, and were here and we are going to be heard," said Sandy Oestreich Ocala.

And organizers say they have a five-year timetable to do what has so far escaped them for 30 years.

Governor Jeb Bush will have no legal say on the Equal Rights Amendment, but he's made it clear he thinks it's like bringing back bellbottoms.


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