Kitty Werthmann

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Phyllis Schlafly came to Pierre, South Dakota, in February 1975 to testify in favor of a resolution to rescind the state’s ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. The temperature was 25 degrees below zero and Phyllis observed, “I have never been so cold.” Kitty gave her friend a down blanket, which Phyllis had never used before. The next morning Phyllis said that the blanket kept her so warm and so comfortable.

Phyllis went to the Capitol with Kitty and everyone was astounded at her testimony to rescind the ERA. “What a gracious lady!” was the remark made by many of the legislators. Unfortunately, the resolution lost by one vote in the committee.

Phyllis came back to South Dakota in 1977 to testify again. Since Pierre was in the middle of a blizzard, her plane had to land in Rapid City three hours to the west. Eagle Forum members drove Phyllis to Pierre in a snowstorm arriving at four o’clock in the morning. Later that morning Phyllis appeared before the committee to testify in favor of that year’s resolution to rescind the ERA.

A feminist, when testifying against the resolution, called Phyllis Schlafly a gadfly. Yes, Phyllis did travel to various states to testify in favor of rescinding the ERA and yes, she was annoying and a great nuisance to the feminists. However, there was a rally in the rotunda of the Capitol in favor of rescinding the ERA. Everyone was grateful to Phyllis for coming to South Dakota.

The 1977 rescission attempt failed; but no one gave up. The Equal Rights Amendment ratified by South Dakota was rescinded on Valentines Day in 1979. It was called the Valentines Day Massacre.

by Kitty Werthmann, longtime leader in South Dakota

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