Senate Considers ERA The Equal Rights Amendment would address sex discrimination and inequalities for women in social, political and economic life. But there are some civic duties that both sexes would rather avoid.
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Most Women Are Ready To Accept The Responsibilities That Go With Equal Rights

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Most Women Are Ready To Accept The Responsibilities That Go With Equal Rights

Most Women Are Ready To Accept The Responsibilities That Go With Equal Rights

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MIKE WATERS, HOST:

Reporter Barbara Newman has been telling us today about some of the problems of our overcrowded world, and indeed, she will be telling us about some more of those problems coming up. But right now, she will join me in finding out about what's been happening on the floor of the Senate. Linda Wertheimer, you were there today, and they were discussing the question of women's rights.

BARBARA NEWMAN, BYLINE: Well, Mike, with this intro about overpopulation, it seems to me, Linda, from what you said before, one way to deal with it is to send the women off to war. Now, what's in this thing for me as a woman, except the fact that I'm going to Vietnam if it passes?

LINDA WERTHEIMER, BYLINE: Since I don't have to be chivalrous, Barbara, I can tell you you're too old to be drafted, so you don't have to worry about that. However, if you and your husband should decide to split up when you're making more money than he is, you could conceivably be required to pay him alimony and, if it should arise, child support.

NEWMAN: What other fine things are in this amendment, which I'm supporting and fighting for?

WERTHEIMER: Well, there - the amendment will provide for the women of America some solid legal basis for suing in cases of discrimination. And discrimination does exist in America against women. Women cannot always serve on juries, which puts into question the - whether or not a woman can be adequately represented in court if she doesn't have peers, women, on her jury. Women are discriminated against in all kinds of employment. Although there are lots of laws on the book about equal pay for equal work, it just hasn't been enforced. And this is going to make it absolutely final that women cannot be discriminated against on account of sex, and women will be entitled to sue.

NEWMAN: But the point is you will have to sue even if the law is on the books. If I feel I'm discriminated against because of sex, either in pay or in job category or something like that, I will have to bring a suit.

WERTHEIMER: That's right. But you'll be in the same position that Blacks are. The Constitution will support you. And there won't be a question of overturning laws or interpreting laws or stretching the Fourteenth Amendment to include women or anything of that kind. It will simply be there, flat-out, that you cannot be discriminated against.

NEWMAN: One thing which is interesting to me is this provision regarding income tax compensation for people who take care of the children of working mothers. Is there anything in this amendment which would give relief to us?

WERTHEIMER: No, unfortunately not. I asked that question today to - I asked a lawyer, a woman who was one of the very first lawyers to work on the Hill. And she told me that, no, in fact, women will not be able to get any kind of relief or child care under this bill.

NEWMAN: What specifically then are - you know, women's groups and feminists are fighting very strong for this. But from what you've said, it frankly doesn't seem as if it would be the millennium if this thing passes for women.

WERTHEIMER: One of the things that the same woman told me today was that when this amendment passes - and there's very good reason to think that it will pass - that we may be opening a kind of Pandora's box. It may - it will, in fact, offer women all kinds of opportunities to make their situation more equal - more nearly equal - in pay, in status, in Social Security, in the draft. And it will be of benefit to women. But there may very well be some things that women would just as soon not do. I mean, I think there are great many men who would just as soon not go to war. Now women are going to be in that same position.

NEWMAN: What else about the - except, you know, if you work any - I wouldn't mind paying alimony if I split up with my husband and I were making more. Would you?

WERTHEIMER: No, I would not. But Senator Russell Long kept emphasizing on the floor yesterday that he felt that women, the flower of America, should not have to do that. And thing is that most women are ready to accept the responsibilities that go with equal rights.

NEWMAN: Thanks very much, Linda.

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