September 17: Demand Equality.

By: Nikki W.

September 17 is Constitution Day. If there’s ever a day that needs girls’ voices, it’s this one.

The Constitution, like much of HIStory, leaves women out. It commemorates the day in 1787 women 39 men signed the U.S. constitution. It wasn’t until 1920–133 years later–that our Constitution included any mention of women. That’s when the 19th Amendment was ratified, guaranteeing women the right to vote. A right that belonged to white men since 1787 and to black men since 1868.

Even though the Equal Rights Amendment was first introduced in 1848, it wasn’t passed until 1972. And to this day, is still not part of our Constitution because only 35 of the required 38 states have ratified the ERA. Many who opppose the ERA suggest that we don’t need a woman-specific amendment, because women were granted equal rights under the 14th Amendment, which reads:

“No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

But as recently as this year, a sitting member of the United States Supreme Court said (out loud, in public) that the 14th Amendment doesn’t apply to women. According to Justice Antonin Scalia, “Certainly the Constitution does not require discrimination on the basis of sex. The only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn’t. Nobody ever thought that that’s what it meant. Nobody ever voted for that.”

Terry O’Neill, president of the National Organization for Women, pointed out the horror that Scalia doesn’t consider half the population of the country to even be persons by the Constitutional definition.

At this point in HERstory, we know full well that it is up to that half of the population to demand our rights and recognition. We must continue the fight for equal rights through an amendment to the Constitution. Tell your representatives in Congress that you deserve and demand equal rights.

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