Equal Rights Amendment – Declaration of State of Emergency

February, 1978

We declare a State of Emergency for the National Organization for Women in which we turn all our resources to the ratification effort and to extension of the deadline for ratification an additional seven years.

There comes a time when the harsh political realities must be recognized: the major interests of our country have hypocritically given lip service to the ERA while sabotaging its ratification by political deals, tradeoffs and do-nothingness.

There comes a time when a movement must decide its own destiny- when it must determine on what line it will stand and fight.

The ERA is the foundation on which all our gains rest. If the ERA is defeated, it will be perceived as a vote against equality for women. The gains women have made in the past 15 years will be eroded and erased. Worse yet, every future effort we make will be dismissed with the excuse that when the ERA failed, it proved that the women of this country didn’t want equality.

Never mind that only 7% of those voting on the ERA in their state legislatures – where it counts-have been women.

Never mind that 80% of those women at the National Women’s Conference-where it could have no binding effect-voted for the ERA.

Never mind that public opinion polls have time again proved majority support.

Never mind that 2/3 of the states with 3/4 of the population have ratified the ERA.

Political leaders do not want to be diverted by the truth or confused by the facts. And an indifferent national press refuses to consider the life and death issues facing women as hard news.

The burden on those of us who know the truth is to explode the myths, to confront the realities.

There comes a time to stand and fight and it is NOW.

The ERA is the last best hope in this century of committing this country to the principle of human equality-regardless of sex. It has been 55 years since the ERA was first introduced in Congress as the second step in guaranteeing full citizenship to women.

Two generations of women have now struggled for its ratification. If it fails, it will take 2 more generations to recover from the loss. There comes a time when we must have the courage to declare “This ABOVE ALL.”

If we do not say this, who will?

If we who believe most passionately that all women and men are created equal are not willing to fight when the last chance to realize that dream in our lifetime is in dire peril, who will? If we who know the hypocrisy that has almost turned our victory into defeat will not expose it, who will?

If we do not rise to the challenge of going the extra mile, of giving all that we can in the last critical days, who will?

If we back away from a last ditch, all-out fight for the ERA today, what compromise of our convictions will we tolerate tomorrow?


We must not deceive ourselves into believing that we can proceed with business as usual while the victory we have so nearly won is stolen from us.

Most of the traitors who switched votes and sold us out cannot be held accountable until after March, 1979 because they are not up for election until 1980. There is no longer one full legislative session left before the deadline is reached and our opposition is stalling with parliamentary delaying tactics and is prepared to stonewall it until time runs out. We cannot fool ourselves. We have done less than the best. We cannot fail to recognize that we in fact have not adequately alerted our own membership and indeed the nation to the peril to those of us who dream of full equality for women.

Therefore we declare a State of Emergency for the National Organization for Women in which we turn all our resources to the ratification effort and to extension of the deadline for ratification of the ERA an additional 7 years.

That we emphatically state that the extension of the deadline is necessary. Necessary for the real impact of the ERA boycott of convention business in unratified states; necessary for an electoral strategy to have full impact; necessary to remove time as the issue and to place the ERA before the public in an atmosphere in which the merits of the ERA itself are the only issue, necessary to erase the half-truths and distortions of the opposition and that we state emphatically that we are not willing to accept the false hope of reintroduction on March 23, 1979 that erases 55 years of work.

Rather we recognize that a vote against extension of the deadline is a vote against equality for women in this century.

There comes a time to gather the courage of our convictions, the strength of our unity, the passion of our commitment and declare we are pledged to do all that is humanly possible to pass H.J. Res. 638 – the extension of the time line in this session of Congress. We are determined to be victorious because we will not tolerate the possibility of living lives in which there is no realistic hope of sisters and brothers, wives and husbands, mothers and fathers, women and men, living together, working together as equals.


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