January 9, 2019
Senate Privileges and Elections Committee
Testimony in Opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, my name is Toni DeLancey, I am the State Director for Concerned Women for America of Virginia. I am here today on behalf of the Concerned Women for America members who oppose the Equal Rights Amendment.
Despite claims of protecting women’s interests, the ERA will actually end up hurting women. I’m going to focus on something I know about personally: military service and what the ERA would mean for our nation’s armed services.
In the late 1980’s, eight years after ERA failed, I attended the U.S. Military Academy as an 18-year-old woman. And in 1991, I graduated from West Point with about 80 other women out of a class of 945.
Graduation day, President George H.W. Bush personally handed my diploma to me, and I saluted our then Commander in Chief. I was commissioned that day as an officer in the Army and went on to lead men and women in a tactical military intelligence unit.
THIS was a privilege of a life-time for a man or a woman.
But my women classmates and I did NOT need the ERA to accomplish this! We volunteered and competed for those slots to serve our country. We were able to contribute based upon our individual strengths and our unique abilities. Women today are pushing themselves further than ever – some, who are physically able, have even become Army Rangers and some are serving in combat roles. But these women enjoy the right to volunteer and compete to do these remarkable things.
The passage of the ERA would change this incredible progress women have already made and force equal representation of women in all military roles. This would be disastrous and severely degrade military readiness, placing individuals in roles for which they are ill-suited and put those around them in greater danger. If passed, a future war might require hundreds of thousands of women to be drafted and forced into close combat with the enemy. The current system works and provides opportunity for women and men without mandates.
The ERA is not needed for women to succeed!
The ERA hurts women and would indeed hurt our nation’s armed services.
On behalf of Concerned Women for America of Virginia, I ask you to oppose the ERA.