Tag Archives: Jimmy Carter

The ERA and Oregon

6 May

ERAToday I would like to address the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) and Oregon.  My dear friend and social justice advocate, Nancy Campbell Mead, was kind enough to visit with me and talk about how the ERA benefits all Oregonians. I have known Nancy for five years and I am consistently amazed and grateful for her voice and dedication for social justice. Nancy stands in solidarity with those who face oppression. I was elated to learn that she has now taken up the torch for the ERA.  The message of equality for women is especially timely and poignant given that the House of Representatives just voted against equal pay for women.

Nancy, what will the ERA do for Oregon?

 The language of the proposed ERA is simple:

(1) Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the state of Oregon or by any political subdivision in this state on a count of sex.

(2) The Legislative Assembly shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this section.

(3)  Nothing in this section shall diminish a right otherwise available to persons under section 20 of this Article or any other provision of this Constitution.

Equality for women is not currently expressly guaranteed in the Oregon Constitution.  Nor is it guaranteed in the federal constitution (The federal ERA, though passed in both houses of Congress, was only ratified by 35 of the necessary 38 states; there is currently a renewed effort to get it ratified).  By passing the ERA we can make certain that Oregon women and girls have their equality written into the state’s constitution.  Twenty-two (22) states have ERA’s; Oregon does not.  Oregon women do have substantial protections through legislation and caselaw, but neither provide the security that the Constitution provides.  Both legislation and caselaw are much more “fluid” than is the Constitution; legislation and caselaw are constantly changing, but it takes a vote of the people to modify the Constitution.  Explicit constitutional guarantees of  sex equality provide legislators and judges a mandate to treat sex-based discrimination as highly suspect and provide the framework under which laws are written and court cases are decided.

How can we get this on the ballot for November of 2014?

 In order to qualify for the ballot we need 116,284 valid signatures by July 3, 2014.

We need everyone’s help NOW in making sure we have enough valid signatures to qualify.  With our statewide polling at over 82% support from Oregonians we know the ERA will pass if we get it on the ballot!

Here is how you can help us achieve this goal so all Oregonians have equality expressed in the constitution:


Collect signatures, host house parties, speak to your organizations…  For more on how you can volunteer, email: Info@VoteERA.org


Nancy, what else would you like to share with people regarding the ERA? How is this a social justice issue?

Having an ERA in Oregon’s Constitution is important.  How important?  Just read these quotes from three of our nation’s leaders:

Former President Jimmy Carter:  He calls the treatment of women and girls “worse than any war we’ve had in history.”

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg:  “If I could choose an amendment to add to the Constitution, it would be the Equal Rights Amendment… I think we have achieved that [equality] through legislation, but legislation can be repealed, it can be altered.  So I would like my granddaughters, when they pick up the Constitution, to see that notion – that women and men are persons of equal stature – I’d like them to see that is a basic principle of our society.”   Nancy added that:  Bader Ginsburg was referring to the U.S. Constitution, but certainly the same argument can be made in favor of an ERA in the Oregon Constitution.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton:   “Some people say, ‘It’s [the ERA] only symbolic,’” Clinton said. “Well, yes, but symbolism is important,  and it can also be a great message and even lead to actions that further equality, so I think if you can have that kind of debate here in this state [Oregon], you might be starting something beyond your borders.”  Nancy added that:  While I do not for a minute think the ERA is “only symbolic” I do agree with Clinton that “symbolism is important”.  Because it has been many years since any state has approved an ERA, Oregon passing a state ERA will hopefully serve as an impetus to get the federal ERA “rolling” again.  As Clinton said, we “might be starting something beyond your[our] borders.”

Having the Equal Rights Amendment in Oregon’s Constitution is important because it will mean future generations of women and girls can read our constitution and know that the people of Oregon believed that their rights were important enough to secure them in the constitution which can only be changed by a vote of the people.  The legislation and caselaw we currently have are generally good, but they are subject to being changed by the legislature or a judicial decision.  Expressly stated constitutional protections are much more secure.

I want to thank my friend Nancy for taking the time to visit with me and talk about the ERA.

Call to Action: Please click on the links above to get involved and stand in solidarity.


Women’s History Month 2013: Initial Reflections

1 Mar
Celebrating Women's History Month

Celebrating Women’s History Month

March is National Women’s History Month. As we kick things off, two events in our nation’s capital this week provide a powerful framework for the women we will celebrate and the importance of this endeavor.

As Black History Month came to a close, a statue of Rosa Parks was added to Statuary Hall in the Capitol. She is one of only a handful of women to be honored in this way — and truly deserving. It is worth noting for Women’s History that she was not the timid woman pushed too far who shows up in the history books. Instead she was a powerful advocate for social justice who participated in many activities before her famous bus protest. Somehow the old white straight men who write the textbooks like her better the other way…

In other news, yesterday Congress finally passed the Violence Against Women Act. Originally passed in 1994, it has been reauthorized twice; in 2005 it was approved unanimously in the Senate, got 415 yes votes in the House, and was signed by George W. Bush. Somehow the 112th Congress — the nastiest, least effective in recent memory — couldn’t be bothered and let the Act lapse, even though the Senate passed a strong renewal bill. The sticking point was the inclusion of Native American and same-sex couples in the renewal. Freedom and justice for all, anyone? Fortunately, the Senate passed the Act anew in this Congress and it made it through the house despite a last-minute attempt at a straight-white-ladies-only amendment.

The historical treatment of Parks’ legacy and the continuing legislative War On Women demonstrate clearly how much we need Women’s History Month. Like Black History Month, I wish we did not have to celebrate a specific month for Women’s History.  Until all groups have equity and fair representation, however, taking time to celebrate the pioneers and allies is critical.

I am including this absolutely lovely and brilliant video by President Jimmy Carter as he reflects on the negative impact of religion and women’s rights.  Thank you to my dear friend Brad Fairchild and social justice activist for pointing me to the video. I’m not sure that President Carter could rise in my esteem–what a treasure.

I hope you will enjoy our journey through the lives and actions of some amazing women this month. To whet your appetite, I leave you with one of my favorite School House Rock videos!

Happy Birthday, President Jimmy Carter

1 Oct

Today marks Jimmy Carter’s 88th birthday.  Despite his detractors, Carter remains one of my heroes.  When we look at a list of his accomplishments during and after his Presidency, we see that he sets a very high bar for his successors and exposes Tea Party/Republicans to be racist, bigoted, homophobic, misogynistic people who are on the wrong side of history.

During his tenure as President, Carter created the Department of Energy and the Department of Education.  Yes, we used to have a President that urged Americans to conserve energy, and advocated for price controls and for technology — quite the contrast to Bush W. and Romney with their misguided notion of aggressive consumerist philosophy.  We have now over 30 years of evidence that Reagan’s “Trickle Down Economics” does not work!

While Reagan took the credit for the Iran-hostage situation, it was actually Carter who set up the framework to free the hostages. It was also Carter who brokered the Camp David Peace Treaty between Egypt and Israel — no small feat.

Of course, Carter really shines after his presidency.  In 2002, Carter earned the Nobel Peace Prize.  He and his wife Rosalynn helped to start Habitat for Humanity, showing their dedication to addressing poverty.  Sadly, we don’t even address families living in poverty anymore. Carter has also come out in support of Marriage Equality and while his faith makes it difficult for him to support abortion, he has clearly stated that he supports a woman’s right to govern her own body.

What an amazing legacy President Carter has carved: a long standing dedication to civil rights for marginalized populations and a long standing dedication working to eradicate poverty.  We can only hope for more Presidents who will leave such a legacy.  President Obama is certainly on his way.

Hero of the Week: March 23, President Jimmy Carter

23 Mar

Hero of the Week

In an age where major party presidential candidates sign pledges of discrimination and turn a blind eye to death threats at their debates and vicious attacks on women from their pet pundits, it is heartening to remember that our country has elected some truly noble men to our highest office. Long-time readers of TSM will know of our admiration for President Carter; after leaving office he made the most of his fame and power and spent his time and energy making the world a better place. He recently published a new book, NIV Lessons from Life Bible: Personal Reflections with Jimmy Carter, in which he addresses faith and the proper role of religion in our civic lives.

A brilliant but humble man, he articulately expresses his own faith and the deep importance of maintaining a secular state. Of particular relevance are his comments regarding the use of religion as a club against women.

I separated from the Southern Baptists when they adopted the discriminatory attitude towards women, because I believe what Paul taught in Galatians that there is no distinction in God’s eyes between men and women, slaves and masters, Jews and non-Jews -– everybody is created equally in the eyes of God.

Are you listening Right Wing Republicans and Tea Party bitter tea bags? Pretty simple, isn’t it? In a later question, Carter addresses a topic that even President Obama waffles on, full  marriage equality.

Homosexuality was well known in the ancient world, well before Christ was born and Jesus never said a word about homosexuality. In all of his teachings about multiple things -– he never said that gay people should be condemned. I personally think it is very fine for gay people to be married in civil ceremonies. I draw the line, maybe arbitrarily, in requiring by law that churches must marry people. I’m a Baptist, and I believe that each congregation is autonomous and can govern its own affairs. So if a local Baptist church wants to accept gay members on an equal basis, which my church does by the way, then that is fine.

What an eloquent statement about the separation of church and state, the difference between personal values and legislation, and Carter’s own wonderful understanding of our innate humanity.

Honorable mention this week goes to regular TSM hero Elizabeth Warren. Not content to wait until she’s asked about an issue, Warren has made LGBT rights and marriage equality active parts of her campaign.

Marriage equality is morally right. I’d be glad to see it included in the Democratic platform. It helps raise awareness of the impact of DOMA and it helps build support to repeal it.

Who Would Jesus Hate?

24 Jun

Who Would Jesus Hate?

If you have been following TSM for any length of time, it is clear I do not subscribe to or support any type of organized religion. However, I try to be supportive of friends and family that do get something out of belonging to an organized religion. When I am harsh in my articles about the many religious bigots, it is to expose the hypocrisy and show unacceptable  their behavior is.  I suppose it makes so much more sense to worry about us homos than to worry about the sustainability of our planet, or about the increasing number of homeless.

My friend Tim, shared this story with me and I thought it only right to expose yet more bad behavior from a leader within the Southern Baptist Church.  Albert Mohler is the president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.  He recently said: “that Southern Baptists need to repent of a “form of homophobia” that keeps gays and lesbians out of their churches.”  When I first read this, I was hopeful and thought wow, maybe there is some progress for the Southern Baptists, an organization that former President Jimmy Carter walked away from due to its misogyny and homophobia.

The first couple of paragraphs of this article threw me for a loop and I had to read the entire article and then re-read it to really glean the hate and bigotry being spewed here.  Mohler goes on to say:

Evangelicals, thankfully, have failed to take the liberal trajectory of lying about homosexuality and its sinfulness,” Mohler said. “We know that the Bible clearly declares – not only in isolated verses but in the totality of its comprehensive presentation – the fact that homosexuality not only is not God’s best for us, as some try to say, but it is sin…We have said to people that homosexuality is just a choice,” Mohler said. “It’s clear that it’s more than a choice. That doesn’t mean it’s any less sinful, but it does mean it’s not something people can just turn on and turn off. We are not a gospel people unless we understand that only the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ gives a homosexual person any hope of release from homosexuality.

Does this smack of “Reparative Therapy”?  Reparative therapy which has been denounced by the AMA.  So if us homos can’t “get straight” then we will always be “sinners” but you are happy to help us with this and take our money as a tithe if we go to church?  Am I getting this correct?  Mr. Mohler, why are you thinking so much about homosexuality? Are there no more pressing issues that the church could concentrate on currently?  Perhaps stopping wars? Stopping bullying? Teaching Love?  While I hate to direct any traffic to this site, I do need to offer the source of this information.  Click here to read the full article.

Celebrating Women’s History Month: March 1

1 Mar

Honoring Molly

Today I would like to honor and pay tribute to Molly Murphy MacGregor. Molly, always very humble, is the co-founder of the National Women’s History Project (NWHP) and the force behind why we now celebrate Women’s History Month in the United States. The not insignificant move forward started in 1980, when President Jimmy Carter issued the first Presidential Proclamation declaring the Week of March 8th 1980 as National Women’s History Week.  Finally in 1987, Congress declared March as National Women’s History Month in perpetuity.

I met Molly in 2002 at a National Women’s Conference at Smith College.  Shortly after I met her, she asked if I would join the board of directors of the National Women’s History Project. What a great honor and what a wonderful four years I had with an amazingly talented group of people at NWHP.  Who better to kick off Women’s History Month than my friend, Molly Murphy MacGregor. I strongly encourage you to visit NWHP.

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