18. Is There A Conspiracy To Stop The Equal Rights
It seems to be "news" when a state fails to pass the Equal
Rights Amendment (E.R.A.). However, a report which suggested a national
conspiracy to stop the E.R.A. did not seem to be news. An article, reviewing
the report made by the National Organization for Women (which supports
the E.R.A.), was buried in Part IV, page 120, of the April 11, 1976,
issue of the New York Times. The article said, in part: "Stop E.R.A.
leader Phyllis Schlafly talks of passing the hat for nickels and dimes
to finance the movement, but it can hardly be so homespun. Among E.R.A.
proponents,. there has. been much speculation that a helping hand comes
from segments of the insurance industry, whose sex-differentiated practices
might come under severe scrutiny if the amendment were passed. A NOW
report traces in great detail a web of alleged interconnections among
Schlafly, the John Birch Society, and a number of insurance company
executives. NOW vice president for legislation, Elaine Latourell, whose
office helped prepare the report says: "The industry giants are
out to crush the E.R.A. We see connections winding covertly from their
corporation board rooms, through their law firms, through their right
wing leaders, through wives of insurance executives who crop up as heads
of local anti-E.R.A. committees, through state legislators' offices,
and back to insurance companies." She says that insurance lobbyists
fought the E.R.A. heavily in Nebraska, Illinois, and Oklahoma. The main
problem for insurance companies, if the E.R.A. should be ratified, appears
to be their sex-differentiated practices in disability insurance and
pension plans. The failure of the media to give equal coverage to the
NOW report qualifies the report for consideration as on of the "best
censored" stories of 1976.
Elaine Latourell, Vice President for Legislation National Organization
for Women, 3221 N.E. 180th St. Seattle, Washington 98155
New York Times, April 11, 1976, pt. IV, p 120; "Who's in the anti-E.R.A.
lobby?" by Elaine Latourell