In the past, getting the ERA ratified was the goal of a handful of organizations. Most of them were focused singularly on feminist issues. Some of them were progressive organizations. These folks all did great work that all of us should be thankful for and no one should ever doubt their hard work or dedication to the cause. Nor is the failure to have passed this through the legislature any fault of theirs. The only way the ERA is going to get ratified in Arkansas is if the sentiment in favor of it becomes too strong to ignore. In other words, what we need to pass this thing is a movement, one that brings in all kinds of people from very different walks of life.
It looks like we have that now.
For awhile there, it was pretty much just me and a small handful of other folks that were out there trying to get Arkansas Democrats on the record in favor of passage. Now though, state legislators who have probably never been asked about this before I getting grilled on it by their constituents. All of the accounts that I’ve got for this post are second hand, so if there needs to be a correction made I’ll tend to that as always, but here are some legislators who have, reportedly, been asked about their ERA position-
- Both Rep. Homer Lenderman and Rep. Butch Wilkins, representatives of rural districts just outside of Jonesboro, were asked about the issue. Now I should say here that I know Homer and he is one of the most fundamentally decent and good natured people I know, in politics or otherwise. He’s also one of the stars of the freshman class in the legislature and I don’t think there’s a representative in their first term near as hard working or accomplished. Not surprised at all that he’s, reportedly, in support of the ERA. That said, if a Democrat as conservative as Butch Wilkins is really in support of the ERA, as I’m told he said he was, then we are making real progress on this.
- Not to be out done by his opponent, L.J. Bryant, Todd Wilcox, running for state rep., also has been asked about the ERA and reportedly came out in favor of it. Doing otherwise would have been a disaster for Wilcox, especially when he’s facing an opponent with such strong name recognition and a support base left over from his statewide campaign who’s come out in favor of it.
- Meanwhile, Maylon Rice, running up in District 85, the same seat as David Whitaker, was asked about his position on ERA and came out strongly in favor of it.
- Down in Hot Springs, Jimmie Harmon, running against Bruce Cozart in district 24, was asked where he stood on the ERA and reportedly said he’s in favor. Taking down Cozart is a tall order. Jerry Rephan put everything he had into that and then some and came up short, but it’s nice to know that even in the tough districts we have Democrats who aren’t shying away from standing up for women and girls everywhere.
Again, all this is just what’s getting reported back to me. If there’s a correction to be made I’ll make it, as I always do, but one thing is for certain. There is an effort in Arkansas like never before to get this done and no legislator, Democrat or Republican, is going to be able to avoid it or come out against it without some serious blow back.
The movement might be going national too thanks to the War on Women. Senator Ben Cardin has introduced a resolution in Congress removing the (unconstitutional) timeline for ratification of the ERA. If ever there was a time to get this done in Arkansas, it is now.