On a day like today, Independence Day, my thoughts and words should be filled with pride and patriotism, especially since I am a born and bred citizen of America. The discouraging truth however is that I am having trouble filling my soul with joy over the current issues we are facing in our country.

Who would have thought that in the 21st century we would still be chewing over the equal rights of women in relation to an amendment of the constitution that we have still never passed and ratified?

The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was a proposed amendment to the United States Constitution. The ERA was originally written by Alice Paul and, in 1923, it was introduced in the Congress for the first time. In 1972, it passed both houses of Congress, but failed to gain ratification before its June 30, 1982 deadline. (Equal Rights Amendment, Wikipedia.com)

The amendment simply reads, “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” (Read the full ERA text here).

Why is the amendment still not a part of our Constitution?

Simply answered: There were (are) many who believed the amendment would inhibit mass chaos over the traditional gender roles within families, unisex bathrooms would invade our lavatory privacy, same sex marriage could not be legally argued against, and women would be unfairly included in the draft (military and NFL… no joke!!). These were the very real arguments against the ERA in the 1970’s.

Would these arguments keep the ERA from passing through today?

The sadness of it all is that we still have to try to answer that question now.

I recently debated with my wife, and argued that the equality of women is closer then ever from being a reality. The Supreme Court’s ruling over the class action lawsuit brought against Walmart over the equal pay of women managers shattered my argument into pieces. I can not honestly say that I believe we are closer then we were in the 70’s anymore. In fact, we might not have moved very far. I wonder what would happen if the ERA was reintroduced to Congress. Oh, wait… I might not have to wonder. The ERA was reintroduced in June of 2011 (note: it is not the only time it has ever been reintroduced). I can only hope as a country we move forward on this issue.

As for myself however, it is hard for me to move forward as I realize we are currently fighting battles to…

Opposing arguments (in respective order; in my own sarcastic interpretation, but horrifyingly, slightly accurate):

  • Social security, medicare, and medicaid is best served privately at higher rates.
  • American children taking school seriously is overrated when they are such cheap labor.
  • Teachers and first responders are paid way too much already.
  • We need to address current almost nonexistent voter fraud.
  • Racial profiling saves lives and sets my mind at ease.
  • Those gay people scare me.
  • Mentally insane people with guns don’t hurt anybody, do they?
  • How else are profiting companies going to make even more profit?
  • Most women know how to use a pad or tampon… what else do they need?
  • Global warming? Hogwash! Pollution? Better sunsets.
  • Illegal immigrants take our jobs that we never wanted in the first place!
  • But how else will we shutdown schools we don’t like and build a golf course we don’t need?
  • Oh, come on! When has corporations or government ever been corrupt? It could never happen!

Jokes aside, these are real issues, real fights that are going on all across our nation right now. Some demand serious contemplation and mind-power to dissect their intended purpose and overall consequences (bullet point number 11 in my opinion). Others however (the rest) seem obviously simple. Nevertheless, there are politicians trying to slide their ridiculous agendas under the nose of their respective citizens, and others who are blatantly getting away with lunacy.

So, should I be happy and joyful today?

Maybe I would be in a festive mood if I ignored the fact that some politicians are more concerned about appeasing corporate tycoons (like the Koch brothers to name a few) rather than the rest of us. You know? The lowly middle-class. Maybe I would have reason to celebrate if I pretended that all of our Congress members care about the state of our economy rather than a stupid pledge to a very misguided little man (Grover Norquist comes to mind).

I want to be proud. I want to be joyous and in a celebratory mood today. I really do, and I think I can be. I just have to convince myself, at least just for today, that Americans care. I have to convince myself that they care about our seniors, our children, our women, our teachers, our economy, our rights, and maybe even more importantly, that our politicians care about all this themselves. I have to convince myself that if Americans were to detect that if any politician were to compromise our basic fundamental needs and rights as a nation we would call them out accordingly; we would hold them accountable respectively. I have to convince myself that Americans truly believe in equal rights rather than systematic discrimination.

It is a lot to try and convince myself of all these. At least for today I will try. Why? It is Independence Day, and I want to be a proud American.

Happy Independence Day everyone!