Women’s rights not protected by U.S. Constitution

I didn’t realize women’s rights were not protected by the U.S. Constitution.  Did you?

link http://goo.gl/JvgGJM

Writer Jessica Neuwirth hopes to see Equal Rights Amendment ratified into lawIMG_0509

by Laura Freeman | Reporter Published: September 27, 2015 12:20AM

Hudson — Although the Equal Rights Amendment was passed by Congress in 1972, only 35 states ratified it, three short of the 38 needed by the 1982 deadline. The ERA supporters hope a new generation of women will change that.

“Equal Means Equal: Why the Time for an Equal Rights Amendment is Now,” written by Jessica Neuwirth, shows how women’s rights have been compromised without the protection of an ERA.

“Many people thought we already had the ERA,” Neuwirth said. “More than 70 percent think it passed and is in the Constitution. More than 90 percent think there should be a constitutional guarantee. We have an information gap. We don’t have equal rights in our Constitution.”

Neuwirth, founder of the international women’s rights organization Equality Now and former director of the New York branch of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, spoke to more than 75 men and women at the Hudson Library & Historical Society Sept. 21 as part of the library’s Libby Walker Women’s Studies Lecture Series.

The book, which includes a foreword by long-time women’s rights activist Gloria Steinem, examines topics like pay equity, pregnancy discrimination, and violence against women and argues the need for an Equal Rights Amendment.

The 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides equal protection under the law and was passed in 1868, Neuwirth said. It wasn’t until 52 years later that the 19th amendment, which gave women the right to vote, was passed, in 1920.

The ERA was drafted in 1923 so women would have all equal rights, but the time limit for passage by the states expired.

Earlier this summer, actress Meryl Streep sent each member of Congress a personally signed letter along with a copy of Neuwirth’s book urging them to revive the Equal Rights Amendment.

“We need the ERA,” Neuwirth said. “Equal means equal but the legal framework we have now is not working for women who suffer gender-based injustice.

“The Supreme Court upheld pregnancy discrimination stating it did not constitute sex discrimination even though only women can get pregnant,” she said.

The court reasoned if pregnant women were treated differently than pregnant men, then it would be sex discrimination, Neuwirth said.

Women can be paid less for the same job, same experience, etc., because the courts reasoned she made less in her prior job than a man, Neuwirth said.

“Two people doing the same job can get paid differently if they were paid differently in a previous job,” she said. “There is no legal recourse.”

Some people argue they have seen improvements over the years, but sex discrimination still exists, she said.

“For decades, women have earned 77 cents to the dollar earned by men; today it’s 78 cents,” Neuwirth said.

Without an Equal Rights Amendment, women do not have effective legal recourse against discrimination on the basis of sex because the U.S. Constitution does not prohibit sex discrimination, Neuwirth said.

In Ohio, which ratified the original amendment, only five current U.S. representatives support the ERA: Joyce Beatty, Tim J. Ryan, Marcy Kaptur, Marcia L. Fudge and Sherrod Brown. Neuwirth urges citizens to write, email and meet personally with members of Congress and urge support of the ERA amendment.

“This campaign could be short and sweet,” Neuwirth said. “It should have happened a long time ago, only no one knows it didn’t happen.”

For information on the ERA go to www.eracoalition.org and eraeducationsproject.com.

Neuwirth is one of the founders and Honorary President of the international women’s rights organization, Equality Now. She has also worked in the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs and as director of the New York Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. She served as a special consultant on sexual violence to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and a Special Advisor on Sexual Violence to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. As a guest lecturer, she taught international women’s rights at Harvard Law School. She holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School and a B.A. in History from Yale University.

How to pass the ERA amendment

Congress can eliminate the 1982 deadline for the ratification of the equal rights amendment and with three additional states, pass it, but the change to the deadline could be challenged in the Supreme Court, Jessica Neuwirth said.

The other solution is to start with a new amendment which has been proposed in the Senate:

“Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

Section 3. This article shall take effect 2 years after the date of ratification.”

The amendment in the House of Representatives is worded differently and includes the term “women” for the first time in any amendment to the Constitution:

Section 1. Women shall have equal rights in the United States and every place subject to its jurisdiction. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

Section 2. Congress and several States shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.

Email: lfreeman@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9434

Twitter: @LauraFreeman_RP

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What I learned from a conference

Saturday, Sept. 12 I attended the Mystery Writers’ One-Day Getaway from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in Twinsburg, Ohio.

The Northeast Ohio Sisters in Crime hosted the event with speakers bestselling IMG_0031author Nancy Pickard; literary agent Vicki Selvaggio and forensic psychiatrist Dr. Megan Testa.

Authors Amanda Flower (Isabella Alan); Shelley Costa; and Casey Daniels (Kylie Logan) also talked about their writing experiences.

This was the first conference I have attended and even though my published books are historic romances, I learned a lot from the speakers.  I thought I would share a few highlights.

Vicki Selvaggio talked about writing a query letter.  Make an impression with that one-page letter of introduction.  Also, whether an agent or a publisher, research to match your writing with what they’re looking for in a story.  Focus on what makes your book unique.

In the query, be professional, specific about the finished work, give a blurb or jacket flap summary of the story, your biography related to writing, and a polite closing.

Nancy Pickard talked about revealing emotions in your writing and that moment in the story when the character has an epiphany and changes.

Most writers are plotters or pantsers (those who fly by the seat of their pants) but need to be both.  The story needs structure or a plot but the characters have to tell their story.

Writer’s block is often a sign that something is wrong with the story not your ability to write.

Use dialogue for important information and not mundane facts.

Pickard stressed conflict, action, surprise, turn and senses as necessary elements of important scenes to maintain interest and bring characters and settings more alive.

It’s been raining all day so it was great to get reenergized with a conference and meet others in various stages of their writing.  The most important advice is to be prepared, finish your novel, so that when opportunity knocks, you’ll be ready to answer.

Being in front of the camera for an interview

Freeman of the Press: Lights, action and remember to talk in front of the camera

by Laura Freeman | Reporter Published: September 6, 2015 12:03AM

As a reporter and photographer, I’m usually the one behind the camera. It is the most comfortable location for me, but sometimes we need to step out of our comfort zone and face the lens.

When Frank Youngwerth of Good Day in Hudson asked if I wanted to be interviewed about a novel I wrote for a show in September, which is author’s month, and I was grateful for the opportunity.

I finished my first novel, “Impending LoImpendingLoveandWar_w8676_300ve and War,” last year, and it was released in October. The day before taping the show Aug. 19, I finished the final edits on my second novel, “Impending Love and Death,” and sent it back to my editor to begin production, so the timing couldn’t have been better.

Of course, the first thing I asked when arriving at the television station at Hudson High School was whether I would get a mulligan or do over if I flubbed something.

“No,” said Station Manager Kerry Paluscsak. “It’s a live taping.”ImpendingLoveandDeath_w9794_300

My nervous level jumped to panic. Can anyone say bloopers?

After filming my book covers, book and a canal boat model I brought, we were ready to go. Kerry attached my microphone, and Frank explained he would make an introduction at the beginning and end to sandwich my interview between an interview with blind major League Baseball broadcaster Ed Lucas, who’s story told in “Seeing Home – The Ed Lucas Story – A Blind Broadcaster’s Story of Overcoming Life’s Greatest Obstacles” and Tom Vince talking about Helen Keller. Great company for a historical romance novelist.

I was given 12 minutes for my interview, and it went quickly and fairly smoothly for a rookie. I think I interrupted Frank once, stumbled over a couple of words, and kept my eyes glued to Frank and away from the intimidating cameras and screen displaying our interview.

It turned out to be a fun experience, and one I would repeat or encourage others to take advantage of if Frank asks you to be a guest.

As clearly as I remember, we talked about the covers of my book. I love old movie posters and wanted my book covers to reflect that look. I have completed two of the six books in the series which takes readers from 1860, through the Civil War years and shortly after.

“Impending Love and War” takes place in 1860 and puts the characters in a race to help runaways slaves escape from chasers, distracting them with a canal boat ride while the slaves are moved from the church steeple in Darrow Falls to a nearby farm.

The descriptions should be familiar since Darrow Falls is based on small towns in our area and the canal is the one in the Cuyahoga Valley. One character is a math instructor from nearby Western Reserve College courting the heroine, who gives him a lesson on proposing marriage.

“In Impending Love and Death” the second Beecher sister is searching for news of her missing husband in 1861 after the Battle of Bull Run and travels to Washington City. Some familiar characters make an appearance in the second book, but it can be read independently from the first story.

I’ll let you know when the second book is available, tentatively in November, from my publisher, The Wild Rose Press. The books are available in print and digital, which is the least expensive and becoming popular for convenience. No bookshelves are needed and a digital copy can travel on any electronic device.

In the meantime, I’m working on book three, “Impending Love and Lies,” which takes place in 1862.

For the newspaper column, go to http://goo.gl/j3y7IZ

For video of interview, go to http://hctv.pegcentral.com

To purchase a print or ebook, go to http://goo.gl/CFQBd1

Email: lfreeman@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9434

Twitter: @LauraFreeman_RP

Facebook.com/Laura.Freeman.5648