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Excerpt of debate in Minnesota senate over the state’s ratification of Equal Rights Amendment.

Heard here is Professor Alan Speer of the University of Minnesota, declaring his desire to see the Minnesota State Senate put debate and research aside to vote on, and pass, ratification for the Equal Rights Amendment. His view is countered by Senator William Kirchner, who feels that recent research calls for more study.


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SPEAKER 1: This was first introduced in 1923. It's been pending for 50 years. We've had those of you who have been around that long at least have had 50 years to look at this measure.

Over at the University in the History Department, we have a graduate student who's working on a doctoral dissertation on the early history of the debate over the Equal Rights Amendment. Now I would submit that it isn't very often that we get a measure before us that's already entered the realm of history. We already have to go to the history books to read about when it first came before this country to make a decision on it.

And I'm very proud to have in my district as a constituent, a woman who has been fighting for this amendment for 50 years. Her name was mentioned earlier in this discussion this afternoon. She's Myrtle Cain. She was a representative in 1923 who first brought this matter before the Minnesota legislature.

And after serving a term in the Minnesota legislature, she went to Washington. She joined the National Women's Party and became a part of the lobby that fought back in the '20s for the ratification of this amendment. And I would like to ask Senator Pillsbury or anybody else who was saying that we are acting, too, quickly to look Myrtle Cain in the eye and to say to this woman who has been trying to tell us about this amendment for 50 years, wait. We haven't had enough time to study it. 50 years just isn't long enough so that we can make up our mind about the ramifications of this amendment, the same kind of thing it seems to me that was being said a few years ago when Black people were told that 100 years after emancipation doesn't give us enough time to make up our minds about whether all human beings in this country are to enjoy equal rights.

I would submit that we have had plenty of time to make up our minds on this amendment. It's been around for a long time. Let's not wait any longer. Let's get on with the business and give preliminary approval to passage of this amendment today.

SPEAKER 2: Senator Kirchner.

SPEAKER 3: Mr. Chairman, now I have in campaigning and in working with ladies groups said that I expected to back the ERA proposal. I still feel favorable toward equal rights for women, which is what I thought we were voting on.

And now within the last couple of days, I've been deluged with material prepared by eminent and capable people, some of them with attorneys names of distinction for questioning some of the interpretations and some of the things that are happening. And some of the things that Senator Burton has brought out may be necessary to do in this state whether they're really advisable or whether they're not. One very learned looking document that I spent considerable time on yesterday afternoon went through one court case after another seeming to indicate that after all the ERA Amendment wasn't necessary at all.

I, for one, would very much like to have a little more time to go back over some of this material that is coming before us the last few days and a few weeks. At first, most of it was very emotional. I was not interested in it at all.

But suddenly, there's developed some rather factual kind of material that, I think, is really worth some serious look. And I'm wondering that some of the very excellent lady groups that I respect very, very highly and have done a good job in the past have really had a chance to in-depth look at some of that material or if they, too, have accepted the philosophy which you allude to and which has been around a long time. But the drafting and the philosophy might be a very different matter. I would be most pleased if we were given a little more time to look at the very excellent materials that have been brought forward for us.


Digitization made possible by the State of Minnesota Legacy Amendment’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, approved by voters in 2008.

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