I posed the question the other day, Illinois Senate takes up the ERA today, whither Arizona?

Now we know the answer.

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In the same way that our authoritarian Tea-Publican legislature has sought to shut down the voice of Arizona citizens by rendering their constitutional right to citizens initiatives an impossibility through a byzantine set of new rules, the same authoritarian Tea-Publican legislators shut down the voice of Democratic minority legislators who represent over 40 percent of the voters in Arizona.

Rep. Pamela Powers-Hannley (D-Tucson) complained during legislative floor action on Thursday that her bill to put Arizona on record in favor of the Equal Rights Amendment never even got a committee hearing. So she made a motion that the measure be brought to the full House for an immediate vote. GOP lawmakers stymie bid to vote on Equal Rights Amendment (Arizona Capitol Times):

The maneuver, which is legal under House rules, caught GOP leaders by surprise.

But rather than simply allowing a vote on her motion, Speaker J.D. Mesnard made a procedural motion to instead have the House recess. That was approved along party lines, denying Democrats the vote they sought — and effectively keeping Republicans from having to go on the record on whether they support or oppose the amendment.

* * *

A parade of Democrat lawmakers urged colleagues in the Republican-controlled House to quash the motion to recess and allow a vote.

Speaker Mesnard, seeking political cover for fellow Republicans, said no one should take a vote in favor of recess – essentially a vote to table the issue – as a vote against the Equal Rights Amendment. Instead, he argued, it should be seen as a vote to block Powers Hannley from bypassing the normal process [in which the Speaker assigns bills he does not want heard to committee chairs he knows will file the bill in their desk drawer, where it will never be seen or heard again. Hence the House rule that Powers-Hannley used to bring the bill to the floor.]

That’s true. The process would have been to have a hearing in the House Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety to which Mesnard had the bill assigned [and where he knew the bill would never be heard. See how this works?]

Mesnard did not dispute that he knew that Rep. Eddie Farnsworth, R-Gilbert, who chairs that panel, was unlikely to give it a hearing.

Farnsworth said he’s not against the concept of equal rights.

“I have seven daughters,” he said. But Farnsworth argued that state law already prohibits discrimination based on gender.

Only in the terms of employment, housing and public accommodations under the Arizona Civil Rights Act. It is not a constitutional right guaranteed by either the U.S. or the Arizona Constitution, something that all males in this country simply take for granted.

“What are we fixing?” he asked.

That fix, according to Powers Hannley, is that women are still, on average, being paid less than men, even as women are moving into the same kinds of jobs that men traditionally have held.

Farnsworth, however, said the measure may have “unintended consequences,” including the possibility that women would be subject to the draft if it is reinstated.

This lazy argument has been around since Phyllis Schlafly and her Eagle Forum first opposed the ERA in 1972. It was bullshit then, and it remains bullshit now. It is a knee-jerk response that has been drilled into opponents of the ERA

Rep. Bob Thorpe, R-Flagstaff, said debate would be irrelevant. He argued that the time for ratifying the amendment expired in 1982.

Another lazy argument. See my earlier post.

But Rep. Ken Clark, D-Phoenix, correctly said there is nothing in the amendment itself that has a time limit.

* * *

“Do you want to go home and tell your daughters and granddaughters that you preferred to take a recess than actually have the opportunity to be leading and continuing to lead the state of Arizona?” asked Rep. Isela Blanc, D-Tempe.

But Rep. Kelly Townsend, R-Mesa, would not be pushed into having to make a decision.

“This is an issue I need to study more on,” said Townsend who was 4 years old when the amendment was introduced.

So you’re telling me that you have never seriously thought about equal rights for women during your entire lifetime? Wow.

On one hand, Townsend said she no more supports paying someone less because of gender than she would to discriminate based on religion [the one thing that does motivate her].

I do have a problem with government telling businesses how to operate,” she said.

Rep. Townsend is a deeply confused individual. The Arizona Civil Rights Act as well as the federal Civil Rights Act are government statutes that tell businesses that they cannot discriminate against individuals based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin in the terms of employment, housing and public accommodations. So you’re telling me that you have a problem with civil rights in general (except for “religious liberty,” of course)?

The ERA, on the other hand, would enshrine in the Constitution that women share equal rights to men under the law — what a radical concept! — something women do not currently enjoy under either the U.S. or Arizona Constitution, even at this late date in the 21st Century.

It is way past time to put the ERA into both the U.S. and Arizona Constitutions.

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