Bo Statham: Equal Rights Amendment and ‘hero-mom’

This column juxtaposes two timely and highly important, seemingly unrelated issues: the proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the U. S. Constitution and the actions of an angry mother toward her son during recent riots in Baltimore. The Nevada Legislature should ratify the amendment, and every parent should pay close attention to that mother’s conduct.

Section 1 of the ERA provides, “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.” It was approved by two-thirds majorities of the U.S. House and Senate in 1972, and it has been ratified by the legislatures of 35 states. Only three more states must ratify the amendment for it to become part of the Constitution.

No provision of the Constitution proclaims the equality of women and men. As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said, the notion women and men are persons of equal stature “is a basic principle of our society.” And yet, there can be little argument women continue to suffer discrimination in many aspects of life in this country.

A resolution to ratify the ERA was passed in 1975 by the Nevada assembly but not by the senate. In 1977, it was passed by the senate but was defeated in the assembly. Both bodies must approve the amendment in the same legislative session for it to be ratified.

The Nevada legislature should show national leadership and adopt the ERA in this 78th session. Such silly arguments as the amendment would require women to serve in combat or to use the same toilet facilities with men simply are no longer credible.

Toya Graham, a single mother of six, recognized her 16 year-old son last week among rioters following the death of Freddie Gray after his arrest in Baltimore. She jerked him around, pulled off his hoodie, yelled expletive-laden directions to go home and repeatedly hit him hard on the side of his head with her open hand. For this, she is being called a “hero-mom.”

On CBS morning news Ms. Graham said she had told her son not to go to the demonstrations and riots and “My intention was just to get my son and have him be safe.” She acknowledged she has hit her son before; presumably, she treats her other five children the same way.

Yelling at children and physically abusing them are harmful to their wellbeing and likely against the law. Children do require discipline but do not deserve mistreatment. And children who are abused adopt that kind of behavior themselves. It becomes their method of communicating and the way they treat others. Finally, physical abuse is not effective discipline, as witnessed by the fact Ms. Graham’s son went to the riots even though she told him not to do so.

Equal rights for women and Ms. Graham’s situation are related. Females who grow up in a society where they benefit from educational and employment opportunities, good health care and family planning are unlikely to be single mothers of six children. They are more likely to have responsible husbands and well-adjusted, happy and attentive children. And our society benefits as well.

Bo Statham is a retired lawyer, congressional aid and businessman. He lives in Gardnerville and can be reached at


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