Are you planning on voting?

Primaries are upcoming here in Idaho, and the general election will be here before we know it (however much we seem mired in campaign slog right now). Many states have passed new laws requiring identification at the polls. This identification must be current and up-to-date, with your current, legal name and address. And before you say that doesn’t apply to you, of course you have current, updated photo identification, an article by The Nation came out last week, and it quotes a Brennan survey that 10% of Americans don’t have it. Most of that 10% are women, who have last name changes due to marriage and divorce. Read the entire article.

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Who do we think we are?: A poem on #humanrights

We sleep, safe in our warm houses
Who do we think we are?
We have forgotten the struggle
For our lives and voices.

Who do we think we are,
Scribbling away, warm and safe?
For our lives and voices
We did not pay the price.

Scribbling away, warm and safe
While other women scrimp and hide
We did not pay the price
They still suffer and die.

While other women scrimp and hide,
We have forgotten the struggle
They still suffer and die,
We sleep, safe in our warm houses.

For more information on what this poem is about, see Who are We? a post I wrote earlier this week.

Reed v. Reed

14th Amendment of the United States Constituti...

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In 1967, a young man in Idaho tragically took his own life. And out of that tragedy came a landmark case for equal rights for women. After Richard Reed died without a will, both his parents, who were divorced, filed petitions to oversee his small estate. The probate court ruled that his father was the proper person to oversee the estate, because “males must be preferred to females,” as written in an 1864 Idaho law.

Richard Reed’s mother, Sally Reed, fought the case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, resulting in the first case in which, in 1971, women were ruled to have equal protection under the law, according to the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution. I originally read about this article in the Post Register (subscription required). You can also read it in the Idaho State Journal for free.

Before reading this article, I had never heard of Reed v. Reed before. I think it should be widely publicized, much more so than it is. Sometimes feminists who fought for equal rights claim that younger women take the rights for which they fought so hard for granted. I think younger women (speaking for myself at least) wouldn’t be so quick to take things for granted (or at least seem as though we are) if we were told more about the way things used to be, before we were born.

Think about it. Before Reed v. Reed, a mother could be denied the right to administer her son’s estate, because she was a woman. To me, that is shocking. And yet, no one ever mentioned this to me, the daughter of a feminist.

Last year, many Republicans were discussing partially repealing the 14th amendment, in response to illegal immigration and the birther movement. I believe that is a terrible idea, not least because I don’t believe the Constitution should be changed to accommodate passing moods of the country (if the idea hasn’t been around for at least a generation or two, it shouldn’t be put in the Constitution), but also because the 14th amendment is so important for the equal rights of many people in this country.

Was that Republican push a hidden attack on feminism? It was certainly a not-so-hidden attack on anti-racists and immigrants. Who among us can say their forebears did not immigrate to this country? Certainly not white Republicans.

Some might argue it is stretching the 14th amendment to apply it to the equal rights of women. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who worked on Reed v Reed as a young lawyer, has a response.

“Equality was the motivating idea, it was what the Declaration of Independence started with but it couldn’t come into the original Constitution because of the odious practice of slavery that was retained,” she said. “I think the genius of the United States has been from the original Constitution where ‘we the people’ were white property-owning men to what it has become today. That it is ever more embracive including Native Americans … people who were once held in human bondage, women, aliens who come to our shores.  So ‘we the people’ has a marvelous diversity which it lacked in the beginning.”

 

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