Lawmakers want to ratify women's rights


Published: Tuesday, January 21, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 20, 2003 at 10:08 p.m.
ST. PETERSBURG - Two Florida lawmakers have begun a campaign for support in their effort to add the Equal Rights Amendment to the state Constitution.
Speaking before 200 people at a rally Sunday, Sen. Gwen Margolis, D-Miami, and Rep. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, asked the audience to urge their elected officials to co-sponsor or support their plan to sponsor an ERA for Florida.
The amendment states: "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex."
A campaign to add the ERA to the U.S. Constitution in the early 1980s failed after only 35 of the 38 states needed ratified the amendment. Florida was not one of them.
Proponents of a national ERA hope some of the states that voted against the ERA 20 years ago will now vote in its favor. Among them: Florida, Illinois, Arizona, Missouri, Alabama, Louisiana and Virginia.
Former U.S. Rep. Pat Schroeder of Colorado, who now lives in Florida, spoke at the rally on the University of South Florida campus, saying the state has to do right by women.
"They are putting pregnant pigs into the (state) Constitution and women can't get in?" Schroeder said, referring to an amendment passed last fall prohibiting the confinement of pregnant pigs in small cages. "Last I looked, pigs don't pay taxes."
The campaign will focus on the residents along the state's Interstate 4 corridor, which "is really the pulse of the state," Schroeder said.
Supporters of the amendment say it is needed to ensure women are not discriminated against. They cite examples like insurance companies offering coverage to men who use Viagra, but not to women who use the birth control pill or other types of expensive birth control.
Opponents have said an ERA would open the door for unisex bathrooms and for women to be drafted, among other things.

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