Archive for Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Proposed equal rights amendment to state constitution draws praise, fears

February 24, 2009


Reader poll
Does Kansas need an equal rights amendment to its constitution?

or See the results without voting


— A proposal to put an equal rights amendment in the Kansas Constitution was praised by supporters who said the measure would provide fundamental protections for women.

But opponents of the proposed amendment said it would lead to same-sex marriage, would ease abortion restrictions and would even strike down laws against rape.

SCR 1608 was heard by the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee.

The resolution states: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the state or any of its political or taxing subdivisions on account of sex.”

To be put in the Kansas Constitution, the measure would require a two-thirds majority vote in the House and Senate, and a majority vote at the polls in a statewide ballot.

After the hearing, Federal and State Affairs Chairman Pete Brungardt, R-Salina, said he wasn’t sure if there would be a vote on the measure by the committee.

Kansas ratified the federal equal rights amendment in the 1970s, but that effort eventually failed to gain national ratification. Twenty-two states currently have equal rights amendments in their state constitutions.

Anthony Singer, an attorney from Wichita, said he supported the proposed Kansas amendment because he wanted his three daughters to be considered as equal with men under the law.

Singer, who identified himself as a Republican, said, “Gender equality is not a Republican issue. It’s not a Democratic issue. It’s an American issue. It’s something that we all ought to get behind and support.”

Krista Kastler, a graduate student in social welfare at Kansas University, said the amendment would give women stronger legal standing when facing discrimination or sexual harassment in the workplace.

“This amendment would make it easier for women to take action against injustices they face,” Kastler said.

But Judy Smith, director of the Kansas chapter of Concerned Women of America, described the amendment as an “unnecessary and outdated icon of radical feminism.” Smith said that if approved the amendment could be used to remove laws against rape. A supporter of the amendment, attorney Pedro Irigonegaray, said that was “ridiculous.”

Beatrice Swoopes, of the Kansas Catholic Conference, said that because only women receive abortions, the amendment could be used to strike down laws that restrict abortion.

“It is intentionally open-ended to put the abortion question in the hands of the courts,” Swoopes said.

Jeanne Gawdun, of Kansans for Life, said that could jeopardize laws dealing with late-term abortion or parental notification.

But Kari Ann Rinker of Wichita, with the Kansas chapter of the National Organization for Women, said the amendment, as evidenced in states that have equal rights amendments, will not result in changes to abortion laws.

That issue, along with other claims that the amendment would allow same-sex marriage and uni-sex bathrooms, is brought up by opponents to “denigrate this important debate,” Rinker said.

She said Kansas’ pioneer history is full of breakthroughs for women and approving an equal rights amendment would “follow through with the unfinished business of the heroines of our past.”


KansasVoter 9 years, 4 months ago

"Judy Smith said that if approved the amendment could be used to remove laws against rape."

How? You can't make a crazy claim like that and not back it up.

feeble 9 years, 4 months ago

"Opposition to gay marriage has also led the group to oppose hate crime legislation that includes sexual orientation, referring to such laws as "weapons against... people who might oppose the homosexual agenda, such as Christians preaching on the street, even Christians preaching from the pulpit around the world."

"Concerned Women for America opposes many of the core values of modern feminism, including parts of the Equal Rights Amendment they believe fail to comply with their value system ."

Long live the 19th Century.

Shardwurm 9 years, 4 months ago

Does this mean men will finally be equal to women!?!?!?!

asleepinthechapel 9 years, 4 months ago

No Shardwurm, men will NEVER be equal to women.

Oh, are you talking about the law? May be some improvement there.

SettingTheRecordStraight 9 years, 4 months ago

Put this idea in the metaphoric target thrower and yell, "Pull!"

dweezil222 9 years, 4 months ago

Equal rights amendments always have some interesting side effects. I can't see striking down rape laws, but it may necessitate passing a law specifically criminalizing same-sex rape, which only a small handful of states have (the way most rape laws are written apply only to male-on-female rape). One thing I'm surprised hasn't been addressed is paternal rights. Family law is heavily slanted in favor of women; an equal rights amendment would probably lead to litigation regarding the rights of a father in an abundance of situations (i.e. Does a father have a right to stop his pregnant girlfriend/spouse/one night's stand from having an abortion? Can he refuse to pay child support after strenuously demanding the fetus be aborted?) It could be legal chaos for a while.

moxxie_mama 9 years, 4 months ago

This is so ridiculous. The language is as simple as can be for just this reason, so that nobody could try to make it mean anything else.

Women are equal to men. How much more out there can you be to be opposed to such a notion?

Protecting rape? Seriously- you think NOW would be trying to protect rapists? NOW pushed for many of those rape laws, and there is NO WAY they want to see those laws weakened.

You had to be there to see just how ridiculous the arguments from 'concerned women' were.

Kyle Reed 9 years, 4 months ago

"...praised by supporters who said the measure would provide fundamental protections for women."

How about some examples of these fundamental protecions. Unless they can give concrete examples of how this being on the books will change anything I can see no reason to amend the state constitution.

Kirk Larson 9 years, 4 months ago

Jeez, you give one group equal rights and pretty soon EVERYONE wants equal rights.

On the rationality of rape laws, don't forget that it wasn't very long ago that, by law, a Kansas husband could not be charged with raping his wife.

KS 9 years, 4 months ago

KansasVoter -Did you ever stop to think that maybe, just maybe Judy Smith did give a reason to back up her statement, but the LJW in their continued liberal bias may have "forgot" to include that in the article? My grandfather used to tell me to not believe everything you read in a newspaper.

Mixolydian 9 years, 4 months ago

This is long overdue.

There's been too much suffrage in silence. The majority of those polled say it's about time we ended women's suffrage. You can see those polls all over youtube.

jonas_opines 9 years, 4 months ago

"Did you ever stop to think that maybe, just maybe Judy Smith did give a reason to back up her statement, but the LJW in their continued liberal bias may have “forgot” to include that in the article?"

Generally someone else brings it in if there is a reason out there. Best I've found is: “Laws against rape and sexual harassment and prostitution could be viewed as discriminatory,” from the CJOnline, which is just as simplistic of a reason as the previous.

Maybe the bigger bias is your own, KS. I think we'll find more support for that assertion than yours towards the LJWorld.

Jersey_Girl 9 years, 4 months ago

Is Pedro sleeping with someone at LJW? He gets all this free advertising here. Of all the attorneys in KS, he's the one who gets in this article?

karrin 9 years, 4 months ago

Some of the comments to this story are indicative of how far we have yet to go before we achieve true equality. The ERA is a constitutional amendment that would secure constitutional equality for women. That simple concept is inspiring people to write about "ball busting women?". What about the vise that the government and bozos like "consumer1" insist on securing to our ovaries and turning at every chance afforded to them? We don't have equal representation in government physically OR constitutionally, we don't have equal pay, we have to define and gain permission for damn near every reproductive decision we may ERA is a pretty innocuous request...don't you think?

Commenting has been disabled for this item.