Kimberley A. Johnson, author of “American Woman: The Poll Dance” and Media Director for We Are Woman, wrote an excellent and thoughtful blog post for Huffington Post entitled, “Why This Feminist Is Voting for Bernie Sanders”. Highlights of the blog post are below. To read the entire post, click here.
Last July, I had the opportunity to attend Netroots Nation, (NN) and while having lunch with a group of colleagues, Bernie Sanders walked into the restaurant. The group I was with started cheering and Bernie waved to us. As an Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) activist and the spokesperson for the women’s advocacy group We Are Woman, I wanted to ask Sanders if he would endorse the ERA on the campaign trail.
The president of We Are Woman, Wendy Cartwright, and I quickly made our way to Sanders as he was leaving and I asked him my question: “Will you endorse the ratification of the ERA?”
He replied, “Okay!”
Wendy asked if his answer was enough of an endorsement to create a graphic to post on Facebook. I told her I didn’t think it was. He’d been gracious enough to give us an answer, but I felt we really had to nail it down.
Sanders spoke to an enormous crowd later that night. Tenacious Wendy managed to get into the front row and she once again had the opportunity to ask Sanders if he would endorse the ERA. He shook her hand, looked directly into her eyes and said, “Yes, I will.” A few weeks later, this quote appeared on his website:
“Not only are we going to expand policies that advance gender equality, we are going to fight to pass the long-overdue Equal Rights Amendment and vigorously defend the critical laws and programs which protect all working people in our country.”
By the way, earlier in 2015, Sanders signed on as a co-sponsor to the joint resolution to remove the congressionally imposed deadline to the ERA.
I’m not aware of other ERA activists who may have quizzed Sanders on this issue, but his actions showed me that he listens to and considers the priorities of the average citizen. I’m well aware of the fact that Hillary Clinton is also a long-time supporter of the amendment and is a champion for women, but Sanders is currently the onlycandidate who’s talking about this issue on the campaign trail and the only candidate who has included working to ratify the ERA into the Constitution as part of his campaign platform.
My personal encounter with Sanders is anecdotal, sure, but it’s one of many reasons why Sanders will get my vote in the primaries.
The policies and overall message of the Sanders campaign will benefit all Americans, but it’s easy to see how his policy proposals will benefit women, ERA or not. He wants to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. He wants to break up the big banks and take the power away from Wall Street. He wants to implement single-payer healthcare and make state college tuition free for students. His goal is take the power away from billionaires and put that power back into the hands of the people, thereby strengthening the disappearing middle class. All of his top-shelf policies will benefit single moms, working women and especially millennial women.
As if that isn’t enough, Sanders enumerated his goals and accomplishments on gender equality in an interview with The Washington Post: 100 percent pro-choice voting record; more family and medical leave; a $15 minimum wage; equal pay; quality universal and affordable child care and pre-K education.
A small sample of Sanders’ voting record reveals his consistent dedication to gender equality:
(YES) Equal pay for equal work by women. (Mar 2015)
(YES) Constitutional Amendment for equal rights by gender. (Mar 2001)
(YES) on reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act. (Feb 2013)
(YES) Enforce against wage discrimination based on gender. (Jan 2013)
(YES) Re-introduce the Equal Rights Amendment. (Mar 2007)