A look back at Oklahoma's complicated equals-rights past

Mar 13, 2017

Proponents of the Equal Rights Amendment showed their support at the state Capitol on Jan. 5, 1982.
Credit Tulsa World

As the United States—and the State of Oklahoma—remain mired in fights over women’s rights in the twenty-first century, The Tulsa World has published a reminder of Oklahoma’s past.

Forty-five years ago this month, an Equal Rights Amendment passed congress by the required two-thirds majority and was sent to the states for ratification. Back then, a woman earned 59 cents for every dollar a man earned, and the amendment sought to address the disparity; it stated merely that Americans should not be discriminated against on the basis of sex.

Yet the amendment ultimately fell short by three states of the required 38 needed to pass. Oklahoma was one of the states that fought against the bill.

One Oklahoma Senator, John Young of Sapulpa, proclaimed that woman was created “to be a helpmate for a man.”

Half a century later, an American woman still only earns about 79 cents what a man does.