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Debate at Minnesota State Legislature over the Equal Rights Amendment. Includes various male speakers for and against.

Excerpts of comments made in session -

For argument: The movement of women's liberation is in a stage of ferment and growth. Broad consensus in women's movement change must involve equal treatment with men, most women do not believe their interests are served by differences before the law. The ERA offers valuable political change.

Against argument: In women's lib, hear echoes of one of the major reasons for the fall of the Roman Empire. Women have been figure of strength and moral integrity, a man must know when he comes back to his home it will not be in shambles and populated by bastard children.

For argument: Every speaker we've heard so far has been a man. This testifies eloquently to the need for ERA, so women can go where they want to go in society.

Against argument: Will vote against ratifying the ERA because not in best interest of women. There are areas of special treatment for women that will be denied if ERA passes.


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SPEAKER 1: The call for this constitutional revision is taking place in the midst of other significant developments in the movement of women's liberation in this country. The movement as a whole is in a stage of fermented growth seeking a new political analysis based upon greater understandings of women's subordination and of the need for new directions. The resulting political discussion has brought forth many possibilities, including changes in work patterns, new family structures, alternative forms of political organization, and redistribution of occupations between the sexes.

A number of feminists have argued for increased separation of women from men in some spheres of activity or stages of life. Dialogue and experimentation with many forms of social, political, and economic organization will undoubtedly go on as long as the women's movement continues to grow. Underlying the wide-ranging debate, however, there is a broad consensus in the women's movement that within the sphere of governmental power, change must involve equal treatment of women with men.

Moreover, the increasing nationwide pressure for passage of an Equal Rights Amendment among women both in and out of the active women's movement makes it clear that most women do not believe their interests are served by sexual differentiation before the law. Legal distinctions based upon sex have become politically and morally unacceptable. In this context, the Equal Rights Amendment provides a necessary and particularly valuable political change.

It will establish complete legal equality without compelling conformity to any one pattern within private relationships. Persons will remain free to structure their private activity and association without governmental interference. Yet within the sphere of state activity, the amendment will establish fully emphatically and unambiguously the proposition that before the law men and women are to be treated without difference.

SPEAKER 2: As I listened to the cry of Women's Lib, I cannot help but hear echoes of one of the major reasons for the fall of the Roman Empire.



SPEAKER 3: There's an undercurrent of noise here. I wish We gave the Senator the courtesy of hearing his argument. Proceed, senator.

SPEAKER 2: In emerging societies, women have been a figure of strength and moral integrity, the spinner of wool, the keeper of the household, child bearer and teacher, and proper maid for a tough farmer, laborer, businessman, warrior. Men and women were bound together to each other by a mutual clan for mutual need for survival. Without that kind of woman, civilization would never have gotten out of the cave. When a man must work or hunt or battle or crusade, he must know that when he comes home, his home will not be in shambles and populated by bastard children.


SPEAKER 4: Every authority that we've heard quoted here this afternoon has been a man. And secondly, as we look around this chamber, we find that this decision is going to be made by a body that's entirely male. I think that there's probably nothing that testifies more eloquently for the need for this Amendment than that. As Senator Burton has said, it's not going to create equality overnight, but it will hopefully put in the constitution of the United States a principle that will enable us to move toward a society in which discrimination on the basis of sex is eradicated so that we do have women authorities unconstitutional law, so that we do have women in all branches of government, so that we do have women with an opportunity to go wherever they want to go intellectually, economically within the society. It seems to me that that's the real need for this amendment. And that's what we need to do here this afternoon.

SPEAKER 5: I've got four daughters and a wife. And I've given this amendment a great deal of thought. I'm going to vote against ratifying the ERA because I don't think it's in their best interests. I think enough of the other sex to believe that there are areas in which they should have special treatment that they're going to be denied if we pass the Equal Rights Amendment.


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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