Just 26 days after becoming First Lady, Betty Ford has held her first press conference. During the 30-minute session with 142 reporters and photographers in the State Dining Room of the White House, she said that she wants to help the Equal Rights Amendment campaign, and favors abortion rights.
Today’s full-fledged news conference was an unprecedented move by a First Lady. Eleanor Roosevelt held 348 press conferences during her White House years, but they were far more informal, and open to women only, as a way of helping them get ahead in a male-dominated profession.
Though she doesn’t intend to get involved in partisan political issues, Ford does want to encourage women to play an active role in politics. There is, of course, one exception to her non-partisan role, and she left no doubt that she’ll be campaigning for President Ford’s election to a full, four-year term in 1976.
The Equal Rights Amendment was first proposed in 1923 by Alice Paul and the National Woman's Party. It was passed by Congress in 1972 and sent to the states for ratification, which is achieved when a proposed amendment is accepted by three-quarters (38) of the states. By the Congressionally imposed deadline of June 30, 1982, only 35 states had voted yes.
The Equal Rights Amendment is not yet in the U.S. Constitution.
ERA advocates are pursuing two different routes to ratification:
the traditional process outlined in Article V of the Constitution, requiring passage by a two-thirds majority in the Senate and the House of Representatives, followed by ratification by legislatures in three-quarters (38) of the 50 states, andratification in three more of the 15 state legislatures that did not ratify the ERA during the 1972-82 ratification campaign, based on legal analysis that when three more states vote yes, this non-traditional process could withstand legal challenge and put the ERA into the Constitution.
Via J'nene Solidarity Kay
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