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The National Women's Political Caucus is a multi-partisan, grassroots organization dedicated to increasing women's political participation and the number of women in elected and appointed office. The Caucus has chapters in states across the country.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Representative Vern Buchanan “De-friends” American Women


Guest Blogger: Caitlin Highland, NWPC Political Planning Intern

Representative Vern Buchanan (R-FL) has “de-friended” American women.

Imagine this scenario: your friend is using your computer to look at the Facebook profile of her new coworker. She forgets that she is on your account, and sends a friend request. Later, you have a notification that the coworker is now your Facebook friend. You do not know her, but you look through her profile to research her. You have little in common, it seems. She likes action movies, and you prefer horror. She may be a little more liberal than you. She seems nice, though. Do you make the effort to defriend her, or do you let your Facebook friendship be? You most likely let it be. To actively defriend her is to go out of your way to demonstrate disassociation.

Representative Buchanan found himself in a similar situation last week, and he chose to take a stance against American women. On June 3, 2013, his name appeared on the list of co-sponsors for H.J. Res. 43, a bill to remove the deadline for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). To supporters and ERA activists, this move signaled some bipartisan support for the bill, as Buchanan was the first Republican co-sponsor.  However, on June 6th, Buchanan withdrew his name from the list. When the National Women’s Political Caucus contacted his office for information on the withdrawal, his legislative aid claimed that Buchanan had been signed on as a mistake, and more information would likely not persuade the Congressman.

His co-sponsorship may have been an accident—almost like an accidental friend request—but support for the ERA should be uncontroversial. It simply promises equality regardless of gender, and allows Congress to enforce gender equality. How does this not align perfectly with the Congressman’s views? To actively oppose the bill by withdrawing his name is offensive to all women. In fact, H.J. Res. 43, the bill in question, only removes the deadline for ratification of the ERA, in order to avoid restarting the ratification process. Currently, thirty-five states have ratified the amendment and only three more are needed, but the ratification deadline has passed.

By “de-friending” this bill, Congressman Buchanan has made it clear that he is no friend of American women. We know that he is aware of this important legislation and that his absence from the co-sponsor list is not out of naiveté. By withdrawing his support, he is actively refusing women the guarantee of equal rights under the Constitution. Buchanan and other lawmakers should co-sponsor this bill, or S.J. Res. 15, the Senate version, to demonstrate their friendship with American women.

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