Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

I am glad to change that now to past war-I hope it is past has clearly demonstrated that women are capable of fully participating in the economic activities of this country where not precluded from doing so by discriminatory laws and regulations.

Many of the claimed benefits accruing to women under existing discriminatory laws will be found upon examination to be without substance and, as above indicated, largely used to exclude women from fields of activities in which they are fully qualified to act. To say the least of the matter, many of the large organizations of women represented in hearings before the committee have expressed a sincere desire to waive the so-called preferential benefits now accorded to women by various laws so as to permit them to follow economic activities from which they are now excluded. The committee cannot help but feel that if there was any real danger of injury to the female sex by reason of the adoption of the proposed amendment these organizations, who have long and tirelessly carried on the battle for the improvement of both the physical and economic improvement of the female sex, would not now be advocating and supporting the constitutional proposal.

With due deference to those holding a contrary opinion, the adoption of the proposal would not, as claimed, create any new or enlarged Federal bureaucracy. The proposal, if adopted, will be self-executing. Both the Federal Government and the States are left free to act, but are merely required to be equal and uniform between the sexes.

Neither is there merit or substance in the contention that the proposal seeks to force upon the States policies which they do not see fit to adopt.

Attention is called to the fact that the adoption of the proposal by the Congress will not put the amendment into operation. Before it can have any effect whatsoever it must be approved by the legislatures of three-fourths of the States of the Union. In other words, the independent action of 36 States of the United States must approve the merits of the proposal before it can become effective. If the proposal does not appeal to the legislatures of 13 States of the Union it can never have any effect whatever. Moreover, under the terms of the proposal, the respective States, in the event of the ratification of the amendment, will have 3 years after the date of such ratification to make any changes in the laws of the several States as are necessary to remove or equalize any law which may now offend the recommended amendment.

If I may return, Mr. Chairman, to the last sentence of the proposed amendment, House Joint Resolution 62, as introduced by Mr. Robsion, I wish to say I approve the whole amendment, and I approve the last sentence in its present form. It now provides that this amendment shall take effect 3 years after being ratified by the legislatures of threefourths of the several States.

Under my interpretation of article V of the Constitution, an amendment itself must elect one way or the other for ratification, and consequently I call the attention of the committee to the fact that in considering this matter, in my judgment, the last sentence of the amendment is correct in specifying, as does House Joint Resolution 62, that the amendment shall be adopted 3 years after being ratified by threefourths of the legislatures of the respective States.

Mr. Chairman, I appreciate this opportunity to appear here wholeheartedly in support of the equal rights amendment, and I would not voluntarily leave such company. I am not talking about the committee. I can see you lots of times.

I must attend the meeting of another subcommittee, and if you will excuse me temporarily, I will return; and I thank you for your courtesy in hearing me at this time.

Mr. Gossett. Mr. Cravens, before you go, you expressed your opinion that it should stipulate in the amendment how ratification should be effected. Should the amendment also provide the number of years within which ratification may take place by the legislatures?

Mr. CRAVENS. It can; that addresses itself to the discretion of the committee and subcommitte. You can put a limited time upon it. I think the customary time is 7 years.

Mr. GOSSETT. That is my understanding.

Mr. CRAVENS. We just left it open. We were confronted at that time, 1945, with the fact that most of the legislatures had already convened and adjourned in that year; it would be 2 years after that before there would be another session of the legislature in most of the States. Consequently, we decided not to put any limitation upon the period in which the ratification should be effected by the States.

It is perfectly all right. I am sure the proponents of this measure have no objection to a reasonable time limitation in which the amendment should be ratified. That is true, is it not?

Mrs. MILLER. Yes.

Mr. REED. Thank you, Congressman Cravens; we are very happy to have your views and will take under consideration the particular matter that you mentioned in regard to ratification.

I note that we have with us today a Member of Congress from the State of New York. We are very happy to have here with us and to obtain her views at this time, Mrs. Katherine St. George.

STATEMENT OF HON. KATHARINE ST. GEORGE, A REPRESENTATIVE

IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF NEW YORK

Mrs. ST. GEORGE. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I come before you to support Senate Joint Resolution 76, known as the equal-rights amendment.

This amendment has been before every Congress since 1923. During that time there have been 25 hearings before Congressional committees and subcommittees and in 1944 both major parties favored the amendment in their platforms.

The Republican platform read, and I quote:

We favor submission by Congress to the States of an amendment to the Constitution providing for equal rights for men and women.

We favor job opportunities in the postwar world open to men and women alike without discrimination in rate of pay because of sex.

The Democratic platform read as follows:
We favor legislation assuring equal pay for equal work regardless of sex.

We recommend to Congress the submission of a constitutional amendment on equal rights for women.

It would seem as though action on this amendment were long overdue in view of these facts.

The women of my home State are overwhelmingly in favor of this amendment and the Republican women of the State federation, numbering 55,000 members, in a meeting held at Albany on March 10, 1947, passed a resolution in which they said—55,000 Republican women, members of 272 Republican women's clubs in 60 of the 62 counties of New York State, Inc., meeting in Albany for our annual legislative conference [reading]:

We, the Federation of the Women's Republican Clubs of New York State, record our unalterable objection to H. R. 2007.

We object to the bill for reasons which we shall state. We also apprehend its unfortunate consequences for our party, both because it is unsound and because it is politically inexpedient. It represents a philosophy with regard to economic,

civil, social, and political discriminations against women that in the past has proved a political liabilty to those who have held that philosophy.

We object to the disregard, implicit in this bill, of pledges our party has made to support a constitutional aniendment to outlaw statutory discrimination against women. We call on the new Republican majority of the Eightieth Congress to give to the States the opportunity of voting for or against a constitutional amend. ment to give women equal rights under law with men.

By action taken at the Republican National Convention, 1940 and 1944, our party has promised to support such an amendment. We believe that the women of our party have the right to expect that this promise will be fulfilled by their party representatives.

We criticize H. R. 2007 for the futility of its purposes. It can serve no useful purpose save only to delay women in their achieving that equal status under law which all citizens of a free country should in right and justice possess.

Specifically we object to the assumption that the economic, civil, social, and political status of women requires at this late date investigation and study and research by a Presidential commission. Social status cannot wisely be legislated. Our country has made some notably unsuccessful experiments in that field. The social recognition of individuals for their individual work without regard to race, religion, color, or sex is a matter of education.

The political status of women under the nineteenth amendment of the Consti-tution of the United States is or should be equal with that of man. It should not: now be debatable.

The economic and civil status of women has already been the subject of comprehensive investigation and study and report by the Women's Bureau of the United States Department of Labor, the National Federation of Business and Professional Women and other organizations, and these studies are presently available to the Members of the Congress for their enlightenment on the subject proposed for commission study.

We object to the underlying philosophy of H. R. 2007, which seems to assume that there are legal discriminations against women that can be justified by a commission to be appointed by the President. This is offensive to women who have won, after long and difficult years of education and struggle, equal political rights with man. There is no sound basis for such discrimination. We earnestly urge that Senate Joint Resolution 76 be reported out and that our Representatives vote favorably upon it.

Now, Mr. Chairman, as a woman, I feel that we are well able today to take our place beside our men on an equal footing. I have no illusions that it will all be plain sailing; I realize full well that we will have to take the rough with the smooth, and I think we are willing and able to do just that.

A great deal has been made of the so-called physical and biological handicaps of women and of the necessity that these create for certain protective legislation. I cannot agree with this view. I believe that women are, on the whole, stronger

physically than men. The life expectancy of women in the United States is about 5 years greater than that of men.

Much is made of the hazard and handicap of maternity. This, again, is exaggerated. Maternity is not a disease, it is a natural and a perfectly normal function. Women in industry and labor should be allowed maternity bonuses and benefits for the necessary time that they have to absent themselves.

There is just as good and better reason for maternity bonuses as for soldier bonuses and this in no way conflicts with the idea of equality.

The great and crying need for the amendment' is to insure equal pay for equal work. This has not been fully established and never will be until this amendment is passed.

The present laws prohibiting the employment of women in certain industries and night work mitigates strongly against them. What a farce it is not to allow women to run elevators at night, at higher pay;

or to wait on table at night when trays are lighter and tips higher, and then to allow them to do the heavy cleaning in offices at low pay all through the night. It just does not make sense. After all, the pay is higher when you are running the elevator at night, the tips are higher and the trays are lighter at night. This is all discrimination and, as I say, no one has yet raised a protest to the women who are working and scrubbing in office buildings all over the country all night long.

No; I think, Mr. Chairman, that women neither need nor want protective legislation. They want to be free to work as equals asking for no special privileges but insisting on equality of opportunity and pay. We no longer expect or want men to give up their seats to us in crowded streetcars at the end of a hard day's work. The women of today are prepared to stand on their own feet and earn their own way without fear or favor.

We are ready to face the challenge of the new world and on the whole, we believe that the bright side of freedom and equality far outweigh the special privileges and courtesies which, at best, were only accorded to the few.

This amendment may do away with some clinging vines and may spoil the fun of those who have been exploiting women and to whose interest it is to keep them on a lower wage scale, but it is another step forward on the road of freedom. For that reason, and also to keep faith with the people of the whole country who were promised this amendment by both major parties in their platform in 1944, I urge your committee to do everything possible to see that this amendment be written into the Constitution:

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

Congress and the several States shall have power, within their respective jurisdictions, to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

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

I thank you, Mr. Chairman, for allowing me to appear before the committee.

Mr. REED. Thank you, Mrs. St. George. (Applause.)

Mr. REED. I wish to state that it is not the intention of the committee or the chairman to discriminate today in favor of Members of Congress; but I realize that a great many of the Members of Congress who do wish to be heard upon this matter belong to other committees, have other appointments, and I hope those who will later be called as witnesses will not feel that unduly discriminating against them if I attempt to call them, the Members of Congress, first.

Mrs. ST. GEORGE. May I be excused, if there are no questions?
Mr. REED. Thank you for your statement, .

Now I note the presence today of a Member of Congress from the State of Wyoming, and I know that the committee would be very glad to hear what Congressman Barrett may have to say on this matter.

STATEMENT OF HON. FRANK A. BARRETT, A REPRESENTATIVE IN

CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF WYOMING Mr. BARRETT, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I appreciate the opportunity to say a few words with reference to the equal-rights amendment.

As the chairman has said, I come from the great State of Wyoming. The motto of our State is The Equality State. We come by that motto very honestly. As a matter of fact, the first territorial Legislature of Wyoming granted the right to vote to women. That was in 1868. We have followed that up, Mr. Chairman, in several respects. When the State was admitted to the Union in 1890, our State legislature granted women the right to vote. In addition to that, we have had the first woman justice of the peace in Wyoming.

And further than that, I want to call your attention to the fact that Nellie Tayloe Ross was the first lady to serve as the Governor of a sovereign State in the Union.

(Applause.)

And so, Mr. Chairman, the people of Wyoming feel very deeply that this amendment should be submitted to the people of the country for action.

Now, I am here on pretty safe grounds. After a fellow is elected .to office, it is his duty to represent all of the people of his State. It is a comparatively easy matter for a fellow from the great State of Wyoming to come before this committee and say that because of the actions of our people, over more than three-quarters of a century, and because of the fact that both of the great parties have taken action in favor of this amendment, that certainly the people of our State are united in support of the resolution before you.

It seems to me, Mr. Chairman, that the day and age we are living in at the present time makes it mandatory and imperative that we, through a democratic process, give the people the chance to say whether or not they believe in this theory and that it is entirely in order, and that in the days and years ahead, it is going to be incumbent upon all of the people of this great country of ours, both adults and minors, to assume a major and important part in defending the principles of our Government and the security of the Nation itself; and so, Mr. Chairman, I hope that this matter can be submitted to the House so that we will have the opportunity to vote on it and then merely accord to the people of this country the right to pass on this resolution and say whether or not the time has come to give women equal rights.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
(Applause.)
Mr. REED. Thank you, Mr. Barrett.

I also note the presence of one of our colleagues on the Judiciary Committee, the gentleman from the State of New York, and I know the subcommittee would be very glad to hear from Congressman Byrne.

« PředchozíPokračovat »