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Brian Wonnacott: It’s not about equality. It’s about fairness.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Abby Guymon, left, and her twin sister Kate, 10, join other local supporters of the Equal Rights Amendment for a rally at the Utah Capitol on Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019, to encourage Utah to ratify the ERA.

It’s not about equality. It’s about fairness. Instead of the Equal Rights Amendment, it should be called the Fairness Amendment.

I worked with a woman who did more work for less pay. It’s not fair.

We hear arguments against the amendment. Don’t listen to them.

We hear arguments that the amendment will affect abortion law and family law and result in cultural and moral decay. These are all purely hypothetical arguments. These speculations are scare tactics invented by misogynists trying to influence others who are less mean-spirited than themselves.

Arguments against the amendment include fears of devaluing women outside the workplace, fears of drafting women, fears of losing special privileges for women. As to valuing women, we absolutely must value women for bearing and raising children, for the wisdom and joy and humor and love they bring into the world.

As to the draft, today’s mechanized military makes it unlikely. However, women performed yeoman duty in World War II and have significant roles in the military today. If women were drafted, there certainly would be ways for them to serve their country with dignity and honor.

As to women losing special privileges, women must absolutely compete on equal footing in affairs of social justice. These arguments are all patronizing attempts to minimize women’s strength and abilities. It is saying, “It’s for your own good that we won’t treat you fairly.”

There are women who are against the amendment. Some women worry about traditional roles of women, other women just submit to the patronization of men around them. The women who worry about traditional roles are absolutely right that traditional roles are of enormous value.

These women don’t seem to realize that fighting against the amendment devalues women in general and sabotages the lives of women who must be both caregiver and family provider. Women who submit to patronization should refuse the condescension they are experiencing and seize the strength and dignity they possess.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints should support the amendment. The church was an early supporter of women and women’s rights but, when asked about the ERA, a spokesman returned with a statement that the church has had a “consistent policy” for the past 40 years.

This statement indicates the issue did not get the attention it deserved. The world is much different from the world when the amendment was proposed. Parents had been at war and young people were facing war. The church appeared to take their position to hold on to the normalcy that was under siege. Now, nearly every household includes a woman who works. Now, women are able to pursue many more interests and options.

We must support women’s needs and interests. The church should revisit thinking about the amendment without consideration for past history but with consideration for the value of fairness for women, within the church and around the world.

It’s unclear whether ratification of the Fairness Amendment would actually cause it to be included in the Constitution, but it is possible. Supporting the Fairness Amendment sends a clear signal that unfair treatment must not be tolerated. It’s clear Utah should support fair treatment of women in Utah and throughout the United States.

Perhaps if there had been a Fairness Amendment there would have been no need for the #MeToo movement. There should have been something in the Constitution telling Roger Ailes and Harvey Weinstein they must treat women fairly. There should have been fewer men without jobs and fewer women traumatized.

The United States Constitution is where we look for guidance about behavior, about law, about truth. Support the Constitution. Support the Fairness Amendment. Support fairness and truth.

Brian Wonnacott

Brian Wonnacott, Sandy, is the brother to four sisters, a husband and a father to a daughter. He also ran for Congress from Utah’s 3rd District in 2014.

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