Phyllis Schlafly at the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition, November 9, 2013

The video of her remarks is followed by the transcript…


Phyllis Schlafly:

I guess I’m known mostly for defeating the Equal Rights Amendment, but I don’t need to tell you what’s wrong with ERA because the Equal Rights Amendment was on the ballot in Iowa twice, in 1980 and 1992, and you all defeated it. So you already know how bad it is.

What I would like to tell you is that I think the real lesson of our campaign against and defeat of ERA was that we showed that a little group of grassrooters can take on the whole establishment and beat ‘em all. And that’s what we did.

As I go about the country I find that many of our people are despondent; they’re very sad about losing the election last year and [about] the trail that Obama is taking our country down and they almost don’t know what to do.

And it’s kind of like it was after 1964 when we had that devastating defeat of Goldwater and victory of Lyndon Johnson and then we had Nixon after that. I can remember that conservatives were so despondent and that’s the way it is today.

I want to tell you how — when we took on the ERA fight we were taking on the whole establishing and I want to encourage you to know that you can do it again. A little group in my kitchen at our house on the bluffs of the Mississippi River took ‘em on and beat ‘em all.

Now let me tell you when ERA came out in congress in 1972 it passed the US House 354 to 23. In the senate it passed 92 to 8. They had the big momentum. Within the first year 30 states passed it and they only needed 38.

They had a head start. They had a good name. Who could be against equal rights? Everybody who was anybody was for ERA — from Ted Kennedy to George Wallace — you couldn’t name any important person who wasn’t for ERA. It was in the Democratic National Platform it was in the Republican National Platform.

Everybody said it was impossible to stop it. Out of the entire US Senate there was only one senator who was willing to say a good word for us — Watergate senator Sam Ervin. In the US House there were only three who dared to say a good word for us: Henry Hyde, George Hanson and Bob Dornan. Nobody else would say anything.

All the women’s magazines were for it. Thirty of them went in a consortium to demand that ERA be immediately passed. All the women’s organizations were far it. Oh, and Hollywood was for it. Alan Alda came repeatedly to our Illinois legislature to tell legislators to hurry up and pass ERA.

They had 99 percent at the media. Out of the whole country there were only two newspapers who ever said a good word for us. They were the St. Louis Globe Democrat, now-defunct, and the Tampa Tribune. No other paper spoke up for us.

There wasn’t a single governor out of all fifty states who was for us. And two governors actually protested and marched against us — the governors of North Carolina and Florida.

They had three presidents on their side. They had Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter. During Jimmy Carter’s regime they ran the ERA campaign out of the White House. In the White House they had something called at the situation room or the war room. That’s where they were all supposed to go if Khrushchev dropped the bomb — they’d go in that room to decide what do we do now. Well they ran the ERA campaign out of that room in the White House. And they invited wavering legislators to come for a visit to the White House.

They had three first ladies on their side; they had Betty Ford, Rosalynn Carter and Lady Bird Johnson. And they were giving interviews all the time.

The conservative movement wasn’t even for us. The chief vehicle for conservatism in those years was National Review. In ten years National Review never wrote one single article about the Equal Rights Amendment.

There was no Rush Limbaugh talking about the FemiNazies. There was no Fox News saying we need fair and balanced news.

There was no Internet. The only thing we had was of course the telephone and the Phyllis Schlafly Report. And our campaign started with the first one in February 1972 called “What’s Wrong with Equal Rights for Women.” And over the ten years of the fight I probably wrote a hundred different issues of the newsletter describing various bad affects of it.

The media were not fair to us. Everything that was on was very much loaded against us. The only place we got a fair break was in the hearings before the state legislatures. And I traveled around and spoke at forty-one of those state legislative hearings. And those state legislators — most of whom were pretty decent persons — and they kind of thought you ought to hear from both sides if you were going to discuss this.

So we laid out our plan and I chose the battleground we fight on which was the legal rights that women would lose if this amendment went into the Constitution. For example the classic discriminatory law was the draft law — and remember we were still fighting the unpopular Vietnam War when {ERA] came out of congress.

The draft law says male citizens of age 18 must register. Well, you change that to ‘person’ and that imperils the freedom of all 18 year old girls.

And when they went on television they would make women think they were all going to get a raise in pay which of course was nonsense because the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act was passed even be four ERA.

They had a time limit and then they got a crooked extension when they couldn’t [get it done] within in the seven years. But toward the end of the game day they somehow got fifteen million dollars and they ran television ads with Hollywood stars. And they used not only Alan Alda, but Archie Bunker, Mrs. Archie Bunker, Ed Asner, Dick Gregory, and a lot of other famous Hollywood stars.

At that time Bella Abzug was in the House of Representatives and she persuaded the congress to give her $5 million dollars to have a big conference in Houston which was designed to get the additional states to ratify because they needed 38.

So they gave her five million dollars for this and they all had tax paid trips to Houston. And there was enormous media coverage about this conference. And after they passed their resolution demanding ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment, then they passed their resolution demanding tax-funded abortions for any woman who wanted it. And after that they passed a resolution calling for the whole gay rights agenda. So that conference didn’t help them. For the first time a lot of people saw what the feminist movement was all about.

So they got no more states after that Bella Abzug conference in Houston. That really killed them when people saw on television what the feminist movement was all about.

So the point I really want to make is not what’s wrong with ERA but that we proved that the grassroots could rise up and fight the whole entire establishment. Everybody was for ERA — all the way from Ted Kennedy to George Wallace, and the presidents and the presidents’ wives and the governors and everybody was for it.

And we took them all on and we beat them. And that should be an inspiration to you today because I think what we are facing today is really another “choice not an echo” fight. That is, the establishment in the Republican Party — the people we call RINOs (Republicans in name only) against the grassrooters.

They don’t want any grassrooters to win; they’d rather have a Democrat win an election to the senate because they only want people who will do what they’re told. And somehow grassrooters like to believe [that those they elect] should represent their constituents and do what they think is right rather than taking orders from the lobbyists in Washington.

So my message to you here is be of good heart. Don’t be despondent about the sad state of conservatism in the Republican Party. The future of our country depends on what happens next year. We need at least four new senators who are conservatives to be elected next year and it’s your job [here in Iowa] to give us one of those. That’s your main job.

And I will be carrying that message elsewhere because we have to realize that elections do have consequences and we can’t live with the consequences of last year — we’ve got to have the right result next year and make sure we do.

I just give you this illustration what the grassroots can do against all the power and money in the country. You can do it and we need you. We need Iowa to send us the right senators to congress and we need your support all up and down the line when you have your caucuses preceding the next presidential election.

And we in Eagle Forum are ready to help — as we say in Eagle Forum: “Those who wait upon the war those who wait upon the Lord will rise up with wings like eagles, and they will run and not be weary” — and don’t you dare be weary because we need everyone of you through next year.