Schlafly, Phyllis Stewart

Author:Jeffrey Lehman, Shirelle Phelps
 
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The demise of the EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT (ERA) on June 30, 1982, can be attributed in large part to Phyllis Stewart Schlafly. During the 1970s, Schlafly was the United States' most visible

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opponent of the ERA, a proposed constitutional amendment that she predicted would undermine the traditional family and actually diminish the rights of U.S. women.

The ERA stated, "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex." After passing Congress, the amendment was sent to the 50 states on March 22, 1972, for ratification. To become law, the amendment needed to be passed by 38 states within seven years. By 1973, 30 states had already ratified the ERA. However, as momentum for Schlafly's anti-ERA campaign grew, the ratification process slowed. Only four states approved the ERA in 1974 and 1975, and it became unlikely that pro-ERA forces could persuade four more states to ratify it. In 1977, Indiana became the last state to ratify the amendment. Despite a congressional reprieve in July 1978 that extended the ratification deadline to June 30, 1982, the ERA failed.

Schlafly was born August 15, 1924, in St. Louis, to Odile Dodge Stewart and John Bruce Stewart. She excelled academically at her parochial school, Academy of the Sacred Heart. After graduating as class valedictorian in 1941, she enrolled at Maryville College of the Sacred Heart. As a junior, she transferred to Washington University, in St. Louis, where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1944. After receiving a scholarship, Schlafly earned a master's degree in political science from Radcliffe College in 1945. In 1978, she returned to Washington University and earned a law degree.

For about a year after receiving her master's degree, Schlafly worked in Washington, D.C., as a researcher for several members of Congress.

Phyllis Schlafly.

AP/WIDE WORLD PHOTOS

Returning to St. Louis in 1946, she became an aide and campaign worker for a Republican representative, and then worked as a librarian and researcher for a bank.

"VIRTUOUS WOMEN ARE SELDOM ACCOSTED BY UNWELCOME SEXUAL PROPOSITIONS ? OBSCENE TALK OR PROFANE LANGUAGE."

?PHYLLIS SCHLAFLY

In 1949, she married Fred Schlafly, also a lawyer. After moving to Alton, Illinois, Schlafly and her husband became involved in anti-Communist activities. Schlafly was a researcher for Senator JOSEPH R. MCCARTHY...

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