Michele Thorne: Why I support the Equal Rights Amendment

Why do I support the Equal Rights Amendment? My mom.

My mom raised us to believe in the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” She had us watch every documentary about slavery, the Holocaust, Native American history and so on. She would say, “How would you feel if that were you?” She wanted us to understand that being a good person meant putting yourself in other people’s shoes and treating people fairly. The Golden Rule is an important tenet in every major religion and is a way we practice our faith. The Golden Rule is equality and that’s the ERA.

My mom believed in both my brother and me. She never told us we couldn’t do things because of gender. For many years of my childhood, I played with Barbies, borrowed my mother’s dress-up clothes, skinned my knees climbing trees and pounded things with hammers. I was never told to act like a girl. We were told to work hard and do well. My mother treated both her son and daughter fairly. The ERA is about treating everyone’s children fairly.

My mom is small and smart. She offers her opinion regardless of whether you sought it. She was determined to go to college and persuaded her mom to sell eggs to help pay tuition. She became a teacher, an important profession and also a good job for mothers. She worked while she was pregnant, but had to hide her belly because pregnant teachers were fired. Early on, she was a substitute teacher in tough Chicago neighborhoods and later, a full-time teacher in a community where few mothers worked outside the home.

My mom taught me we are lucky to live in this country, a democratic constitutional republic. She is a proud Republican. Her middle school curriculum was U.S. history with an emphasis on constitutional law. She enjoyed taking her classes to court and jail, so they could better understand the legal system. She planted the love of law in my head.

As my mother knows, in the U.S. Constitution only the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote, specifically extends to women. Should there be an Equal Rights Amendment, extending full equality of rights under the law to both women and men? Ask my mother. She’ll tell you what she thinks.

-Michele H. Thorne

Michele H. Thorne is an attorney in private practice and an active volunteer. She has worked for a portrait photography company, the national offices of a religious organization, a professional health care association and a law firm in Chicago. She attended college and law school at Northwestern University and business school at the University of Chicago.