Equal Rights Legislation

By Georgie Bright Kunkel

Some time ago I alerted readers that corporations had the status of persons under federal law. The interesting thing is that they have all the rights of persons but none of the responsibilities. They have enough money to win most any election that they desire to win. I called a group together in West Seattle to study the history of the corporation as person and two members of the group helped to produce a skit filmed for You Tube by a young film maker studying at WWU. However, there are so many videos with corporation in the title that you would have a difficult time locating it. For that reason I have a link to the video that I am willing to send to anyone who is interested in watching it. The skit is now being offered in real time to any group that wants to have a few minutes of levity in a meeting and at the same time become educated about corporate personhood.

There does not seem to be any interest in Congress in voting to begin the process of passing an amendment that would deny corporations the right of being persons. It is interesting that at the same time that corporations are now persons, women still do not have the right under our Constitution as equal persons under the law. The amendment that would have made women equal under our Federal Constitution was never ratified. It passed through Congress but the requirement of passage by at least 38 states was not met. This November our state of Washington will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the passage of our own state Equal Rights Amendment. The 30th anniversary passed without any fanfare so I want to make sure that the 40th anniversary is not forgotten. In 1972 our state constitution underwent intense scrutiny to assure that both men and women were treated fairly. For example, it stated that women could not lift over a certain number of pounds on a job when it did not specify that for men. So women were kept out of jobs that required lifting when they, as mothers, were already lifting their toddlers who weighed more than the restricted amount. Many discriminatory laws were revised benefitting both men and women.

Does it seem fair for corporations to have the status of persons with all the rights of persons including the right to finance elections when women do not yet have equal rights under our Federal Constitution? By celebrating the 40th anniversary of the passage of our own ERA in this state perhaps we will reawaken the desire to extend this equality to all the states that do not now have any form of their own equal rights legislation.

At present there are only twenty-two states that have passed equal rights legislation at the state level.
There is a possibility of extending the deadline for passage and honoring the vote of the thirty five states that have already ratified the Federal Equal Rights Amendment.
That would mean only three more states would have to ratify for all women in this country to have equal rights under the law.

I always said that I would not live in any state that was not covered. When the federal ERA is finally ratified, I could move anywhere in the USA I wished and be equal under the law. But as I have always stated—West Seattle is my small town away from my home town of origin. I don’t intend to move.

Georgie Bright Kunkel is a freelance writer who can be reached at gnkunkel@comcast.net or 206-935-8663.

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