Back To The Future: ERA Resurfaces In Tallahassee


It’s baaaack!

The Equal Rights Amendment has been reintroduced once again in the Legislature.

Sponsors are Senate Democratic Leader Nan Rich of Weston and state Rep. Lori Berman, D-Delray Beach.

“As the first woman to lead the Democratic Caucus in the Florida Senate, I’m proud to sponsor the ERA, Rich said in a news release.  “I am hopeful that with the ERA’s passage, we will continue the progress that women have made in taking on leadership roles in business, politics, academia and society in general.

This is an effort to make a statement. Rich and Berman obviously want to show that by sponsoring the ERA, it is the Democrats that care about the rights of women.

Will it pass?

There is a better chance that Senate President Mike Haridopolos will show up in drag at the Capitol than this ever getting to the floor for a vote. Republicans don’t want it.

The ERA, which would enshrine women as equals in the U. S. Constitution, was defeated five times between 1974 and 1982.

Sometimes the vote was close.  In 1979 and 1977, it lost in the Senate by just 21-19.

Dempsey Barron’s Role

The defeat of the ERA can be laid at the feet of arguably the most influential Florida legislator ever Dempsey Barron.

Dempsey Barron

Barron had an unparalleled mastery of legislative rules. He parlayed this skill and his abilities of persuasion to steamroll the Senate into following his lead.

He was so powerful that he once famously threw Gov. Reubin Askew out of “my Senate.

The Panhandle Democratic senator brilliantly forged a winning alliance in the 1970s and 1980s.

He joined conservative North Florida rural Democrats and some urban Republicans. Together they often thwarted the more liberal Democrats from South Florida on everything from funding to social issues.

In the Senate, the Rules Committee is all-powerful because it controls the legislative calendar.  The committee decides which bills can be debated on the floor and which bills die.

Barron was Rules Chairman for a dozen years, in addition to being the Senate president in the mid-1970s.  After he left the presidency, he handpicked his successors for years.

Barron hated the ERA.  So it was defeated, repeatedly.

Helping to kill the ERA along with Barron were two Broward Republicans Jim Scott, later a county commissioner, and the late J. W. Stevens of Parkland, who had been a county commissioner before going to the Senate.

Barron died in 2001 at 79, leaving the ERA dead, too.

The ERA today has no chance of being resurrected, even with Barron long in his grave.

Rich and Berman’s effort is noble.  It is sadly doomed to failure.

I can almost see Barron smiling.

11 Responses to “Back To The Future: ERA Resurfaces In Tallahassee”

  1. TallahasseeLassie says:

    At least Barron allowed it a rollcall vote. These Holier Than Thou Republicans today don’t have the guts to do that because it might show them up for what they are, which is anti-women!

  2. Backtofuture says:

    Next thing you know we will have Linda Cox and Anne McKenzie running for office again!

  3. Pineystride says:

    What’s the point given the current political climate? I’m all for the ERA, but, come on folks…

  4. the Real Truth says:

    If Nan Rich and Lori Berman want to show that they really care about women, then they should spend their energy on legislation that creates a favorable business climate so women can raise their families.

  5. Equality says:

    If Nan Rich really cared about equality for women she’d help a woman get elected to the seat she is leaving, instead of annointing a man to take her place. 50/50 by 20/20 is a long way off in Florida.

  6. S only says:

    Long live the ERA!

  7. tom lubart says:

    ah, how well i remember the old battles. in 1979 (i believe) first lady betty ford was calling legislators asking them to vote for the ERA. the firt lady’s press secretary was a friend of mine, and i got all of the inside who said what to whom and who did what to whom.
    so what happenes when i finally see my story 2 days later when the sun-sentinel gets to tallahassee (hey, pre-internet days). ALL of my exclusive stuff is gone. when i finally saw the copy editor a few days later and asked why, he said because he couldn’t find what i had in the wire service accounts!
    one of only two times i had to restrain myself from leaping over a desk and throttling this fool.

    Tom Lubart was the political writer for what is now the Sun-Sentinel during part of the 1970s.

  8. sandy oestreich says:

    Sheesh, guess Nevins doesn’t have his ear to the ground these days.
    Doesn’t know that Equal Rights
    Alliance spearheads FL ERA ratification bills EVERY year? Doesn’t know that we also help mentor the 7 other states as they file bills annually, too. Doesn’t know that Florida alone has 300 000 ERA members; 7 newspapers endorsing; 88% of constituents by indep. survey ENDORSING the re-ignited ERA? Has an illustrious Board, with former Cong. Pat Schroeder chairing? Has 7 Regional ERA Directors and often, 49 bill cosponsors–bipartisan, both sexes, even Republican Prime Sponsors; passes Sen. Judiciary 8-3, bipartisan?

    Only reason there ARE ERA bills in FL every year is because we rekindled ERA in 2001 by giving speeches everywhere and buttoning legislators as they emerge from the Restrooms. Women, we follow them in and get cosponsorships!

    “We don’t fool around”. We WILL do this, absolutely. No way will America remain medieval and out of the loop that all nations since WWII are in. THEY already HAVE an ERA. We share the dark corner with Saudi Arabia, Lestholo, Somalia. Imagine that!

    Now that we have the FL legislators inured to Special Interests’ fake Red Herrings like ERA will force women to be in the Catholic pulpits and will make teenagers into prostitutes!!, we are down to brass tacks. Now they understand that ERA BENEFITS BUSINESS and benefits men, too AND requires NO FUNDING, ERA is on the MOVE.

    Just wait until the Republican leadership digests the fact that Scandinavia’s GDP grows now that they promote “mainstreaming” of women so they can EARN and pay more taxes!! Makes more sense than Florida does! Give women the freedom of full personhood (that 14th Amendment does NOT), and JUSTG WATCH AMERICA THRIVE.

    “Equality under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex”/gender.”
    THAT IS ALL THERE IS TO THE ERA so put your tail between your legs if you believe wrongly that ERA regulates anything about samesex or abortion or women in the military or might use your toilet seat!
    Get with the program: All are warmly welcomed to that other states’ legislators refer to for correct, current, comprehensive ERA Information.

    Remember, FL legislators, “you’ve seen us in Tallahassee’s hallways, you’ve seen us endlessly in your offices, and you’re gonna KEEP seeing us there whether in a wheelchair and on oxygen…because WE ARE GOING TO DO THIS.

    We are DONE with this repression stuff. Done, I tell you1

    Got that, Mr Nevins?
    We only need 3 states more to ratify ERA. N. Dakota recently RE-ratified to show strong intent.

    No brainer. Republicans

  9. I'm Just Beachy says:

    words words words where’s
    the beef been , Nan?

  10. Scott says:

    With all due respect to the last persons comment, Senator Rich believes in equality for men and women. Senator Rich also supports the people who she feels is most qualified, regardless of whether or not it is a man or a woman. That is the basis for the ERA.

  11. An Equal Woman says:

    Dear Sen Rich and Rep Berman,
    Thank you for your effort to make me equal to men. However, I have been equal to them since the day I was born as were my mother, grandmother, great grand mother….. all going back to the signing of the US Constitution. There may be cultural issues that have not always support what is in the best interest of woman however ratifying the ERA will only mean that I have spent the last 38 years as a lesser human being to men and that is something I will not agree to.
    Thank you again for your well intentioned efforts.