Measure 89 Would Provide Momentum for Federal ERA: Guest opinion

By Guest Columnist
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on October 18, 2014 at 1:47 PM, updated October 18, 2014 at 1:48 PM

In this March 2013 photo, Leanne Littrell DiLorenzo, founder of VoteERA.org and chief petitioner for Oregon's Measure 89, discusses her proposal to add the equal-rights amendment to the Oregon constitution as Reps. Julie Parrish, R-West Linn, and Wally Hicks, R-Grants Pass, listen during a news conference at the state Capitol in Salem. (AP Photo/Jonathan J. Cooper)

In this March 2013 photo, Leanne Littrell DiLorenzo, founder of VoteERA.org and chief petitioner for Oregon’s Measure 89, discusses her proposal to add the equal-rights amendment to the Oregon constitution as Reps. Julie Parrish, R-West Linn, and Wally Hicks, R-Grants Pass, listen during a news conference at the state Capitol in Salem. (AP Photo/Jonathan J. Cooper)

By Leanne Littrell DiLorenzo

Why is it important to vote yes on Measure 89?

(1) Women are not equal in the Oregon Constitution.

(2) Women are not equal in Oregon case law, as there is an exception for “biological differences.” Current case law exempts discriminatory laws that are “justified” by specific “biological differences” between men and women, and Measure 89 would remove that exemption.

(3) Women are not equal in the United States Constitution.

Measure 89 will establish state policy banning discrimination based on sex.  The language of Article I, Section 20 of the Oregon Constitution, written in 1857, has not changed.  Under it women could not vote, could not serve on juries, most could not own property, and women still do not have equal pay for equal work.

Measure 89 will provide momentum for women’s equality in the U.S. Constitution by engaging all those who are still working on the federal ERA to follow Oregon’s lead.  After 91 years the federal Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) has still not been added to the U.S. Constitution, even though it has been introduced in Congress every single year since 1923.  It passed in Congress once in the ’70s but fell three states short of the deadline for ratification.

The U.S. Constitution still does not adequately protect women.   “Certainly the Constitution does not require discrimination on the basis of sex. The only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn’t,” said U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in 2011.

Four former Oregon Supreme Court justices took the extraordinary step of writing an open letter in favor of Measure 89 to debunk several arguments made by detractors. Their June 2014 letter is signed by former justices Paul De Muniz, W. Michael Gillette, Richard William Riggs and George Van Hoomissen. It made clear that women do not have the strongest protection in the Oregon Constitution. They said “… no current provision in the Constitution expressly provides those protections … Instead, the protections available to women are present as a result of case law … Measure 89 would remove the biological differences exception.”  This is why women would ultimately have full equality.

One opposition group says others’ rights could be affected by passage of an Oregon ERA. The justices stated: “The text of the ERA itself provides that nothing in it will diminish the rights of any group under any provision of the Oregon Constitution. …Oregon’s Office of Legislative Counsel has also issued opinions further supporting that nothing in ERA proposal will diminish the rights of any other group. At least 22 states have adopted equal rights amendments in their constitutions. Not one of the ‘concerns’ voiced by [detractors] has ever come to pass in those states.”

The Justices concluded with another reference to the detractors of the measure: “They are mistaken to oppose passage of the Oregon ERA. We believe that passage of the Oregon ERA will acknowledge the contributions and importance of more than 50% of our citizens by finally providing women express recognition in our state’s most important document, its constitution.”

The women who sought the right to vote needed to resort to the initiative just as we have. On five separate occasions, Oregonian editor Harvey Scott was against women gaining the right to vote even though his sister was Abigail Scott Duniway, the leader of the suffragist movement of the Pacific Northwest and the first woman to vote in Oregon in 1912.  But the women prevailed.

Measure 89 has broad bipartisan support.  In addition to the four former Oregon Supreme Court justices, supporters include former Court of Appeals Judge David Schuman, former Oregon Attorney General Dave Frohnmayer and Oregon Women Lawyers.  Supporters come from a long list of organizations, elected officials, community leaders and Oregonians from all over the state, including U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, former Congresswoman Darlene Hooley, former state Sen. Margaret Carter, YWCA, NAACP of Eugene, Oregon Business Association, League of Women Voters, Democratic Party of Oregon, Clackamas County Republican Party, AFSCME and many more.

Please join me in voting “yes” on Measure 89.

Leanne Littrell DiLorenzo is chief petitioner for Measure 89 and founder and president of VoteERA.org.

http://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2014/10/measure_89_would_provide_momen.html#comments

ERA BALLOT MEASURE 89 WINS TOP ENDORSEMENT OF FORMER OREGON ATTORNEY GENERAL DAVE FROHNMAYER

Frohnmayer

 ERA BALLOT MEASURE 89 WINS TOP ENDORSEMENT OF FORMER OREGON ATTORNEY GENERAL DAVE FROHNMAYER. 

 

Dave Frohnmayer joins four former Oregon Supreme Court Justices who support Ballot Measure 89. Frohnmayer has served Oregonians for a lifetime.  He most recently served as President of University of Oregon.

In the last few days Ballot Measure 89 has also won endorsements from AAUW, Oregon Education Association, Oregon Nurses Association, AFSCME, IBEW 48, and minutes ago we received the endorsement from the Asian Pacific Network of Oregon to which we are thrilled.

“This is a day women and girls around Oregon can be incredibly proud that the former Oregon Attorney General Dave Frohnmayer and four former Oregon Supreme Court Justices have come out in support of ballot measure 89, placing the Equal Rights Amendment in the Oregon Constitution, respecting their right to have their equality expressed in our Oregon Constitution…this I hope will be the talk at the dinner table tonight from Coos Bay to Medford to Bend to Pendleton to Portland, Eugene and the coast because this is a long hard road and today Oregon shines,” said Leanne Littrell DiLorenzo, President of VoteERA.org and a chief petitioner of the ERA ballot measure 89.

The four former Oregon Supreme Court Justices penned an open letter stating that the Oregon Constitution does not have the strongest possible protection again sex discrimination and that the protections available to women are a result of caselaw.  The letter from the justices closes the letter “We believe that passage of the Oregon ERA will acknowledge the contributions and importance of more than 50% of our citizens by finally providing women express recognition in our state’s most important document, its constitution.” Signed by Senior Justice Paul De Muniz, Justice W. Michael Gillette, Justice Richard William Riggs, and Justice George Van Hoomissen on June 12, 2014.( Judge Letter at www.VoteERA.org)

With bi-partisan support in the Oregon Legislature on the ERA legislation that had the same language as our ballot measure, Oregon can be very proud.

A partial list of Oregon leaders who have endorsed ballot measure 89 include:

Governor John Kitzhaber and First Lady Cylvia Hayes 

U.S. Senator Ron Wyden

U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley

Congressman Earl Blumenauer

Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici

Congressman Peter De Fazio

Congressman Kurt Schrader

Congresswoman Darlene Hooley

Former Oregon Attorney General Dave Frohnmayer

Secretary of State Bill Bradbury

Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian

State Senate President Peter Courtney

Oregon Senate Majority Leader Diane Rosenbaum

State Senator Laurie Monnes Anderson

State Senator Alan Bates

State Senator Lee Beyer

State Senator Ginny Burdick

State Senator Richard Devlin

State Senator Betsy Johnson

State Senator Floyd Prozanski

State Senator Arnie Roblan

Retired State Senator Margaret Carter

Speaker of the House of Representatives Tina Kotek

House Majority Leader Val Hoyle

State Representative Jeff Barker

State Representative Phil Barnhart

State Representative Brent Barton

State Representative Deborah Boone

State Representative Peter Buckley

State Representative Brian Clem

State Representative Caddy McKeown

State Representative Joe Gallegos

State Representative David Gomberg

State Representative Mitch Greenlick

State Representative Tobias Read

Oregon Education Association (OEA)

Oregon Nurses Association

AFSCME

IBEW 48

 And more…