BEND, Ore. - Forty years after the Equal Rights Amendment was introduced at the federal level, the Oregon Constitution still does not specifically protect women from discrimination.
Now, the ERA is on Oregon's November ballot as Measure 89.
"Forty years after my high school graduation, it was shocking to me that there was not written representation in our Constitution," said Gail McCormick, supporter of Measure 89 said.
"Article 1 Section 20 in the Oregon Constitution was written in 1857, ratified in 1859," said Leanne Littrell DiLorenzo, chief petitioner for Measure 89. "So those same words we live under today are the exact same words that somehow didn't protect women against being discriminated from voting."
Bill McCormick, owner of Bend's Pine Tavern Restaurant and a supporter of Measure 89, said."To have that omission in our Constitution just doesn't feel right."
If Measure 89 passes, a new section would be added to the state Constitution: "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the state of Oregon (...) on account of sex."
Former state senator Chris Telfer said, "Women in the state of Oregon do not have equality, and women represent more than half the population of Oregon, so I think it's time that Oregonians all had equality."
Support for the measure appears strong and no arguments in opposition were submitted in the Voter's Pamphlet.
However, opposition came from one unlikely organization, the American Civil Liberties Union.
In an open letter on their Website, the ACLU stated Measure 89 was "unnecessary," as the Oregon Constitution already provides enough protection for women.
The ACLU said it is worried that by including women specifically, the rights of other individuals might be targets of discrimination.
That statement prompted four former Oregon Supreme Court justices to write their own open letter, saying the ACLU is "mistaken to oppose passage of the Oregon ERA."
"Women do not have the strongest protection in the Oregon Constitution and we need to vote yes on Measure 89," DiLorenzo said.
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