Unite for Women Rally – Saturday, April 28, 2012

Welcome
I am a woman, a mother and wife, daughter and sister, niece and aunt. I am a friend, clergy and Ethical Humanist.

These are all aspects of one human being. We are a multi-dimensional and complex species,
embracing many roles and engaging in many relationships.

But there are those who would diminish us to labels to make us “less than,” to dehumanize and control us.

I hail from western New York,
home of Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass of Rochester and Elizabeth Cady Stanton of Seneca Falls, home of the first Women’s Rights Convention of 1848.

There’s a huge sculpture in a park down the street from where Anthony and Douglass lived called “Tea Time.” It shows them sitting together companionably. A stack of books shares the table with the tea set. I imagine them talking about equal rights. The motto of Douglass’s newspaper, The North Star, was “Right is of no Sex – Truth is of no Color.”

Ethical Culture and Faith
In Ethical Culture, we say “Believe or disbelief as you wish, but put ethics first.” Your behavior, the way you treat others, is of primary concern, and misogyny is unethical.

Several of the “first-wave feminists” were Quakers, a faith tradition that believes in the responsibility of every member – woman and man – to speak out for, and act on behalf of, social justice.

Faith narratives are beautiful. These stories connect believers to a shared history.
They should help us to see ourselves in others and inspire us to good deeds.
They should not be used as an excuse to engage in unethical behavior.

To treat any human being as “less than” is unethical. It is abhorrent. And yet we tolerate this behavior, under the guise of “religious,” not only in our intimate relationships, but also on the public national political stage.

Sadly, there are those today whose beliefs would grant full protection under the law to the unborn, but woe-betide the infant that leaves the womb a female. Then you are relegated to second-class status. And these people have the money to lobby for their beliefs.

It must stop!

Equal Protection
When we were young, my brothers would watch “The Three Stooges” on Saturday mornings. I disliked the show for two reasons: They hit each other, and they had a “Women Haters Club.” I hated the stooges, but at least they were honest, if fictional. Today we have real stooges with power who hate women – and it’s no joke. What they have in store for us women is dangerous, and it’s real – not imaginary.

Shame on our country for preaching democracy and freedom around the world, but denying equal protection under the law to over half of its population!

Suffrage was only the beginning, Sisters. The 14th amendment did not include us when it was ratified in 1868, and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has made it painfully clear that it does not apply to us today. Corporations – yes, women – no.

And shame on our sisters of privilege and complicity who do not join us in fighting this injustice!

Conclusion
I have a son and a daughter. I love them both fiercely. They are equally precious to me.
But we live in a country – we are citizens of a country – that does not treat them equally.
That is wrong. That is unethical.
So we must use the vote that we do have to change the laws.
We need an Equal Rights Amendment NOW!
To hell with paternalistic, condescending “fair” treatment under special circumstances determined by a court.
We demand equal protection and rights as human beings, as citizens in our own home.
If we are not equal, we are not free.

Civil rights leader Ella Baker said, “We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes.” Say it with me now: “We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes.”

“We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes!”

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