Laura E. Brock


Florida housewife Adele Kanter's letter was prototypical of religious women who were supporters of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA).3 Community activist and housewife Shirley Spellerberg's letter was representative of religious opponents of the ERA. Women were mobilized to enter the political arena, many for the first time, on both sides of the ERA conflict. Florida was the key battleground state where the ERA failed after an intense decade-long (1972-1982) political battle that was an intersection of religious, gender and social issues. Examining the history of Florida's ERA conflict is significant because religious and social themes recur in contemporary public policy debates and legislative actions. This study will explore the role of religion in affecting legislative rhetoric and lobbying tactics, as well as in exacerbating the fight in Florida.4 It will explain how religion contributed to the failure of ratification when opponents linked the amendment to "threatening" social issues such as gay rights or abortion. ERA supporters were forced into a defensive strategy that included marshaling religious arguments and using tactics to mobilize religious women to support ERA ratification.5