On January 28, 1976, Phyllis Schlafly and Betty Friedan debated the Equal Rights Amendment and the women’s liberation movement on Good Morning America. Schlafly and Friedan were not friends, but they frequently debated the Equal Rights Amendment and the feminist movement during the 1970s. Right now, Hulu has a series called “Mrs. America” that highlights the fight between Phyllis Schlafly and the second wave feminists over passage of the Equal Rights Amendment. The Equal Rights Amendment was a proposed amendment to the United States Constitution designed to guarantee equal legal rights for all American citizens regardless of sex. It sought to end the legal distinctions between men and women in matters of divorce, property, employment, and other matters. After Representative Martha Griffiths introduced the ERA in 1971, it passed both houses of Congress in 1972, then 38 state legislatures needed to ratify the amendment before March 1979 for it to be included in the Constitution.
Betty Friedan was a feminist writer whose 1963 book ‘The Feminine Mystique’ is often credited with sparking the second wave of American feminism in the 20th century. In 1966, Friedan co-founded and was elected the first president of the National Organization for Women (NOW) to fight for women’s equality. In 1971, Friedan joined other leading feminists to establish the National Women’s Political Caucus. Friedan was also a strong supporter of the proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Phyllis Schlafly was a strong conservative Christian voice that led the fight against feminism and abortion, and successfully campaigned against ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. She was a strong opponent of LGBTQ rights and same sex marriage. Along with Anita Bryant and Jerry Falwell, Schlafly led the rise of the Christian Right in the 1970s and its eventually dominance in the Republican Party.