Gender Discrimination In The US

Gender Discrimination Is Still Legal In The United States And We Don't Seem To Care

A problem that has plagued America since its founding, gender discrimination, is still legal in the U.S.

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Gender discrimination and the United States of America have a long history with one another. From the exclusion of women from the U.S. Constitution to the arrest of Susan B. Anthony for trying to vote, America hasn't historically had the best record when it comes to how we treat women. Needless to say, there are plenty of countries that treat women far worse than ours does, but that's no excuse to treat women here poorly. That's like saying, "Oh, there are fewer cases of animal abuse in this town as there are in others so we don't need to enforce our animal cruelty laws as much." The difference here, though, is that the law supports those abused animals, but it doesn't always support women.

As I said above, the U.S. Constitution neglects to mention women and their rights in its extensive text. To say this is a major absence is an understatement. I am under the belief that all men, a phrase that can be restrictive and mean simply "only men," should be viewed as the inclusive "all people" are created equal. Believe it or not, women count as people, too. Shocking, I know, but it's true. Everyone, not just men, not just women, not just a particular race, or a particular religion, but everyone, is born equal, and each individual is entitled to certain rights that cannot, and should not, be abridged in any way, shape, or form.

As a society, it is my understanding that most Americans are under the same apprehension as myself, but to say our legal system accounts for this is to neglect some ugly facts. First off, we must deal with the fact that the Constitution does not incorporate women into equal protections. While the Constitution does attempt to protect all people in the United States with Article 14 of the Constitution. It reads "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; ... nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." However, as we saw with the rampant systemic racism of the South (and, to be fair, the North as well) following the ratification of this particular amendment, it takes more legwork to enforce and prove this clause than just this.

That's what Congress attempted to with its passage of the Equal Rights Amendment in March of 1972, nearly 50 years after it was first proposed in Congress by Alice Paul. It was sent to the 50 states for ratification, meaning that if 38 of the 50, or two out of every three, states ratified the amendment then it would officially become an amendment. However, Congress took what is still a somewhat controversial approach and placed a time limit for ratification on the amendment. Now, prior to the 20th Century, no proposed amendments ever came coupled with a time limit.

In fact, the first proposed amendment to have a time limit on it for ratification was what would eventually become the 18th Amendment, which established the prohibition of alcohol in the US. From then on, every proposed amendment, with the exception of the Child Labor Amendment, Congress set a time limit of, usually, seven years for ratification. This didn't appear to be an issue for the Equal Rights Amendment, for, by the one year anniversary of the Amendment being sent to the states, 30 of the required 38 ratifications had been passed.

However, over the next four years, only five more states would ratify the amendment, putting it just three shy of becoming officially part of the Constitution. What went wrong? How did an amendment, which easily passed through Congress as a bipartisan measure, and received so much public support, died out seemingly out of nowhere?

For the most part, historians point to just one person. That person was Phyllis Schlafly. A conservative Republican at a time when Rockefeller Republicans were still the norm in the party, Mrs. Schlafly of Illinois campaign aggressively against the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. Her arguments against it, which resonated with many conservative voters, reflected the beginning of a shift in the politics of the Republican Party that would eventually culminate in the presidency of Ronald Reagan. She argued that if the Equal Rights Amendment was passed, women across the country would suffer. For starters, she argued that the ERA would block the rules stating that widows would continue to receive their husband's Social Security benefits. On top of that, she stated that the ERA would block the rules keeping women from registering for the draft, as well as make abortion easily accessible to women and essentially making it an on-demand service rather than something society was against.

Many conservatives, both in power and in the voting booths, reacted positively to Schlafly's arguments, and, seemingly overnight, the Equal Rights Amendment went from being a rallying point for all Americans to one of the most controversial points in US politics. Ratifications, once surging and nonstop, became exceedingly rare until, following Washington state's ratification on January 18, 1977, no more states would ratify it before the deadline. Congress even tried to extend the deadline to 1982 to try to get the amendment added to the Constitution, but with no further ratifications, coupled with the states of Nebraska, Tennessee, Idaho, South Dakota, and Kentucky rescinding their ratifications, the Equal Rights Amendment was seemingly dead in the water.

America would leave the ERA as a footnote in its long history. A quirk in the Constitution, something that came so close but will never be part of it. While Congress has, on several occasions, attempted to revive the amendment in different ways over the now four decades since it was sent to the states, the Equal Rights Amendment seemed to be out of steam, stuck forever as simply just a trivia question, a "what-could-have-been."

That all changed, however, on March 22, 2017, the 35th anniversary of the amendment being sent to the states, when Nevada, seemingly from nowhere, ratified the amendment, bringing the total number of ratifications (not including the rescinding) to 36. Now, after decades of lying dormant, the amendment seemed to have some momentum. This was seemingly fleeting, however, as the odds were stacked against it too high.

First off, you'd have to deal with the fact that Congress included a time limit of ratification which has already come and gone (not to mention they tried to extend it, although whether or not the extension counted is up to debate as well). Not only that, but it would have to overcome the four ratifications it lost, which would require an answer to the question of whether or not a state could, in fact, rescind its ratification of a proposed amendment.

Despite the hurdles in the way, though, on May 30, 2018, just over a year and a month from Nevada's historic ratification of the amendment, Illinois, the home state of the ERA's most boisterous enemy, ratified it as well, bringing the total number of ratifications (with the rescinded ones included) to 37, just one short of ratification. The legislatures of the 13 states that hadn't worked to ratify it yet began to work hard, and, under the new term, many states, including Virginia, Georgia, and many others have begun.

Will it work? Well, that's hard to tell. The Virginia effort has already turned up short, with the amendment not even coming to a vote in the full House of Delegates, instead of being rejected in a committee vote. Georgia's effort seems to be wavering as well, as one of the Republican co-sponsors of the resolution to ratify it has already pulled his name from it over concerns about abortion. On top of all of that, though, the amendment would still have to hurdle the constitutional questions of whether or not Congress can place time limits on amendment ratification and whether or not states can rescind their ratifications of an amendment.

Not all people are pessimistic about the amendment's abilities to conquer these obstacles. As reported by the Independent, Carol Jenkins of the ERA Coalition/Fund for Women's Equality said, "Our lawyers tell us that it is possible to remove the deadline." On top of that, she noted that it is, as she felt, likely that the five states that rescinded their ratifications would not be able to support the legality of that action, stating "Courts have not looked kindly on efforts to undo what a whole state has voted to support."

So, does the ERA have hope? Can this long-waiting proposal finally join the other 27 amendments that have been ratified to become part of the Constitution? Well, there's plenty of activity in the states to indicate that at least one more will move to ratify it, potentially by the end of this year. Whether or not it can defeat it's imposed a time limit and rescinding, though, is another story. First, let's focus on the time limit.

It can be argued that Congress putting time limits on the ratification of an amendment to the Constitution is unconstitutional. While the arguments are wide in range, the one that seemingly has the best legs to stand on is that a time limit on ratifications is a violation of the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment we spoke about at the very beginning of this article. The argument is that by not allowing future votes on the amendment, Congress has deprived the right of the people unable to vote at the time (including people too young to vote and people who weren't born yet) to vote for members of their state's legislature who would vote for or against the ratification of the amendment.

Take me for example. If I'm in support of the amendment and I lived in, say, Arizona, it wouldn't matter since the deadline has passed so I wouldn't get the chance for my voice to be heard in the state legislature through my vote for members who'd support the amendment. Already ratified amendments don't have to worry about this issue since subsequent amendments can be ratified to repeal already-existing amendments, as is what happened with the 21st Amendment repealing the 18th.

Other amendments sent to the states that weren't ratified don't have this problem either, as they're technically still pending, as is the case with the previously-mentioned Child Labor Amendment. However, this argument may not matter since, as is stated in Article 5 of the Constitution, the ability to send amendments to the states belongs only to Congress. As such, any lawsuit to remove the time limit from the amendment would be, as it's put in constitutional law, a political question, which is a type of trial the US court system, especially the Supreme Court, has historically tried to stay away from.

For such an important case as this, the Court may still consider hearing it, but it's far more likely they'd refuse on the grounds that they have no jurisdiction over the actions of Congress in regards to amendments. Furthermore, the Supreme Court, in one way or another, has already kind of decided that time limits on ratifications are constitutional. According to legal scholars, this question first came up in the Supreme Court case Dillon v. Gloss in 1921, where the Court decided if Congress so chooses to it may attach a time limit to the ratification of an amendment. This decision was later affirmed in the case Coleman v. Miller in 1939. In all fairness, the Supreme Court is no stranger to reversing its own decisions, but whether or not this is one they'd reverse, or even consider reversing, is a question in and of itself.

Even if everything went perfectly (one more state ratified it and the Supreme Court struck down the time limits) the Equal Rights Amendment likely wouldn't make it, and it would most likely be for the same reason the time limits are unconstitutional. If the argument is made and accepted that time limits violate the Equal Protections clause, then not allowing for the rescinding ratification would fall into the same boat, at least theoretically. If your state ratified an amendment that, today, you wouldn't want to have that ratification, if rescinding ratifications wasn't allowed then you would have no choice but to accept that the state did this.

Such examples don't have to be hypothetical, either, as several states, including Ohio, Rhode Island, Kentucky, Maryland, Illinois, and the temporary government of West Virginia, ratified the "Corwin Amendment," which would have made it so that no amendment could be passed that would end slavery in the United States. To be fair, the amendment, which was adopted in March of 1861, was an attempt by Congress to prevent the outbreak of the Civil War, an eventually fruitless effort. However, even today, these five states, and, technically, West Virginia, all have officially voted that they want the Corwin Amendment to become part of the Constitution. I know if I were a citizen of any of those states I would want the right to rescind the ratification of the amendment, and I figure a lot of you would, too.

So, is there a chance for the Equal Rights Amendment? Well, so long as there are living, breathing, freedom-loving Americans, anything's possible, and I do mean anything. Good, bad, ugly, etc., Americans are capable of doing it. Whether or not we do is up to the people, which is what makes this country so great. So if the people came together and decided that we needed the Equal Rights Amendment, then we'd get the Equal Rights Amendment. The only question is when we'd get it.

If another state ratifies it and the Supreme Court strikes down the time limit and doesn't allow the rescinding of ratification, then that would be the soonest we get the ERA. That's also probably the least likely scenario, so I wouldn't get your hopes up. Equality for all people is a central tenet of the ideology of most, if not all Americans. While that may sound idealistic, maybe it's just being me having the highest hopes for our country.

I love my country, and, as such, I want to see it at its best. Whether or not it's with the ERA isn't up to me, but whether or not I'll still live by the central idea of the USA, that all people are created equal, is entirely up to me. Whether or not you believe it is entirely up to you. I hope that there will be a day in the near future where something like the ERA is completely unnecessary, but until that day comes, I will continue to live by and fight for my beliefs, the beliefs of millions of Americans today and yesterday, because we decided that tomorrow needs to be free, and the only way to do that is by working together.

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I Am A College Student, And I Think Free Tuition Is Unfair To Everyone Who's Already Paid For It

Stop expecting others to pay for you.

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I attend Fordham University, a private university in the Bronx.

I commute to school because I can't afford to take out more loans than I already do.

Granted, I've received scholarships because of my grades, but they don't cover my whole tuition. I am nineteen years old and I have already amassed the debt of a 40-year-old. I work part-time and the money I make covers the bills I have to pay. I come from a middle-class family, but my dad can't afford to pay off my college loans.

I'm not complaining because I want my dad to pay my loans off for me; rather I am complaining because while my dad can't pay my loans off (which, believe me, he wants too), he's about to start paying off someone else's.

During the election, Bernie frequently advocated for free college.

Now, if he knew enough about economics he would know it simply isn't feasible. Luckily for him, he is seeing his plan enacted by Cuomo in NY. Cuomo has just announced that in NY, state public college will be free.

Before we go any further, it's important to understand what 'free' means.

Nothing is free; every single government program is paid for by the taxpayers. If you don't make enough to have to pay taxes, then something like this doesn't bother you. If you live off welfare and don't pay taxes, then something like this doesn't bother you. When someone offers someone something free, it's easy to take it, like it, and advocate for it, simply because you are not the one paying for it.

Cuomo's free college plan will cost $163,000,000 in the first year (Did that take your breath away too?). Now, in order to pay for this, NY state will increase their spending on higher education to cover these costs. Putting two and two together, if the state decides to raise their budget, they need money. If they need money they look to the taxpayers. The taxpayers are now forced to foot the bill for this program.

I think education is extremely important and useful.

However, my feelings on the importance of education does not mean that I think it should be free. Is college expensive? Yes -- but more so for private universities. Public universities like SUNY Cortland cost around $6,470 per year for in-state residents. That is still significantly less than one of my loans for one semester.

I've been told that maybe I shouldn't have picked a private university, but like I said, I believe education is important. I want to take advantage of the education this country offers, and so I am going to choose the best university I could, which is how I ended up at Fordham. I am not knocking public universities, they are fine institutions, they are just not for me.

My problems with this new legislation lie in the following: Nowhere are there any provisions that force the student receiving aid to have a part-time job.

I work part-time, my sister works part-time, and plenty of my friends work part-time. Working and going to school is stressful, but I do it because I need money. I need money to pay my loans off and buy my textbooks, among other things. The reason I need money is because my parents can't afford to pay off my loans and textbooks as well as both of my sisters'. There is absolutely no reason why every student who will be receiving aid is not forced to have a part-time job, whether it be working in the school library or waitressing.

We are setting up these young adults up for failure, allowing them to think someone else will always be there to foot their bills. It's ridiculous. What bothers me the most, though, is that my dad has to pay for this. Not only my dad, but plenty of senior citizens who don't even have kids, among everyone else.

The cost of living is only going up, yet paychecks rarely do the same. Further taxation is not a solution. The point of free college is to help young adults join the workforce and better our economy; however, people my parents' age are also needed to help better our economy. How are they supposed to do so when they can't spend their money because they are too busy paying taxes?

Free college is not free, the same way free healthcare isn't free.

There is only so much more the taxpayers can take. So to all the students about to get free college: get a part-time job, take personal responsibility, and take out a loan — just like the rest of us do. The world isn't going to coddle you much longer, so start acting like an adult.

Cover Image Credit: https://timedotcom.files.wordpress.com/2017/04/free-college-new-york-state.jpg?quality=85

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Pride? Pride.

Who are we? Why are we proud?

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This past week, I was called a faggot by someone close to me and by note, of all ways. The shock rolled through my body like thunder across barren plains and I was stuck paralyzed in place, frozen, unlike the melting ice caps. My chest suddenly felt tight, my hearing became dim, and my mind went blank except for one all-encompassing and constant word. Finally, after having thawed, my rage bubbled forward like divine retribution and I stood poised and ready to curse the name of the offending person. My tongue lashed the air into a frenzy, and I was angry until I let myself break and weep twice. Later, I began to question not sexualities or words used to express (or disparage) them, but my own embodiment of them.

For members of the queer community, there are several unspoken and vital rules that come into play in many situations, mainly for you to not be assaulted or worse (and it's all too often worse). Make sure your movements are measured and fit within the realm of possible heterosexuality. Keep your music low and let no one hear who you listen to. Avoid every shred of anything stereotypically gay or feminine like the plague. Tell the truth without details when you can and tell half-truths with real details if you must. And above all, learn how to clear your search history. At twenty, I remember my days of teaching my puberty-stricken body the lessons I thought no one else was learning. Over time I learned the more subtle and more important lessons of what exactly gay culture is. Now a man with a head and social media accounts full of gay indicators, I find myself wondering both what it all means and more importantly, does it even matter?

To the question of whether it matters, the answer is naturally yes and no (and no, that's not my answer because I'm a Gemini). The month of June has the pleasure of being the time of year when the LGBT+ community embraces the hateful rhetoric and indulges in one of the deadly sins. Pride. Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, the figures at the head of the gay liberation movement, fought for something larger than themselves and as with the rest of the LGBT+ community, Pride is more than a parade of muscular white men dancing in their underwear. It's a time of reflection, of mourning, of celebration, of course, and most importantly, of hope. Pride is a time to look back at how far we've come and realize that there is still a far way to go.

This year marks fifty years since the Stonewall Riots and the gay liberation movement launched onto the world stage, thus making the learning and embracing of gay culture that much more important. The waves of queer people that come after the AIDS crisis has been given the task of rebuilding and redefining. The AIDS crisis was more than just that. It was Death itself stalking through the community with the help of Regan doing nothing. It was going out with friends and your circle shrinking faster than you can try or even care to replenish. Where do you go after the apocalypse? The LGBT+ community was a world shut off from access by a touch of death and now on the other side, we must weave in as much life as we can.

But we can't freeze and dwell of this forever. It matters because that's where we came from, but it doesn't matter because that's not where we are anymore. We're in a time of rebirth and spring. The LGBT+ community can forge a new identity where the AIDS crisis is not the defining feature, rather a defining feature to be immortalized, mourned, and moved on from.

And to the question of what does it all mean? Well, it means that I'm gay and that I've learned the central lesson that all queer people should learn in middle school. It's called Pride for a reason. We have to shoulder the weight of it all and still hold our head high and we should. Pride is the LGBT+ community turning lemons into lemon squares and limoncello. The lemon squares are funeral cakes meant to mourn and be a familiar reminder of what passed, but the limoncello is the extravagant and intoxicating celebration of what is to come. This year I choose to combine the two and get drunk off funeral cakes. Something tells me that those who came before would've wanted me to celebrate.

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