Timeline of the LDS church and the ERA

Timeline of the LDS church and the ERA December 9, 2019

The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) has a long and complex relationship to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I’ve worked with historian Clair Barrus on constructing a timeline of LDS  involvement, and sometimes interference with the ratification of the ERA.

Special thanks to Clair Barrus, Colby Townsend, Ardis Parshall, Joanna Smith and others who helped make this history available.


Women’s Exponent (Mormon women’s magazine) 1894, via Amy Rich
  • During 1896: When Utah entered the Union in 1896 the state constitution contained a hard-fought for provision for woman suffrage and statement which seemed to be an ERA provision: “Both male and female citizens of the State shall enjoy equally all civil, political, and religious rights and privileges.” The provision, unlike the federal ERA, would seem to cover public and private conduct. (1)


  • During December 1923: The Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution was first proposed in the United States Congress in December 1923. (1)     


  • 1943: General Relief Society president, Amy Brown Lyman, and the Young Women’s General President, Lucy Grant Cannon, formally endorsed a national Equal Rights Amendment.


  • In 1950 and 1953: The ERA was passed by the Senate with a provision known as “the Hayden rider”, introduced by Arizona senator Carl Hayden.


  • Jan 25, 1950: First counselor J. Reuben Clark advises the Relief Society presidency not to oppose “the bill for equal rights for women” because “there will be some of the women who will think it is a fine thing.” This day the U.S. Senate approves the proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It fails to receive the vote of the U.S. House. (2)   


  • During 1970: Nixon attempted to influence the state’s senatorial contest in 1970, being firmly behind the candidacy of Representative Laurence Burton against incumbent Democratic Senator Ted Moss. Though Moss defeated Burton, the Republicans began a period of growing strength which was in part related to a conservative resurgence in national politics. As the Equal Rights Amendment emerged as a controversial issue, and as the LDS Church increased its effort to defeat the amendment, Utah Republicans had increasing success in arguing that the Democratic party in the state was out of touch with the views of its more conservative citizenry. (3)  


  • 1970: A church committee headed by Naomi W. Randall created to counter the feminist movement building in the 60’s, (my body, my choice) recommended that the shield be incorporated into official church material. ERA green, 3 letters and a replacement for the ERA logo that was starting to spread. Head of the committee, Noami W. Randall recommended that the Church incorporate some kind of “badge of belief” into the doctrinal teachings for the boys and girls of the Church. Some speculate the modern CTR symbol was influenced by this. (4)


  • Mar 22, 1972:  The US Congress approves the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), which is never ratified, in part because of LDS opposition. (5)                                                        


  • 1972-03-22: The ERA was passed in Congress in 1972 in both house/senate w/ over 2/3 majority.                                                                                                                            

        The Equal Rights Amendment, a proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution, was written by Alice Paul in 1923.  In its entirety it reads:                                  

        Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.                                       

        Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.                                                      

        Section 3.This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification. (5)                                                                                  


  • Jan 23, 1973-Tuesday: [Leonard J. Arrington] Carol Lynn Pearson came in and gave a brief oral report on her experience with the [Utah State] Legislative Committee last Saturday. [[The state legislature committee was hearing testimony regarding the proposed Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the U.S. Constitution.]] She said that the quotation in the Salt Lake Tribune was completely inaccurate, and she was glad that she got no notice at all in the Deseret News. She said that the crowd were not disorderly-they were courteous, but different groups made comments against different groups that they disagreed with. Arriving late her statement was the last one favoring ERA, and in essence she asked that men and women call a truce to the battle of the sexes and join together in elevating both men and women. She said that several weeks ago a group of John Birch-oriented people, learning that the legislat[ure] would consider ERA, had met to defeat the amendment. They formed themselves into a group called the Humanitarians Opposed to Degrading Our Girls or in short Hot Dogs, and they have since been known as the Hot Dog group. They have taken an extremely opposing position on ERA. A couple of weeks ago Carol Lynn appeared on a panel sponsored by the American Independence Party in Provo, and they of course strongly opposed ERA. A few days later the League of Women Voters in Provo sponsored another meeting of people favoring ERA. Before appearing before the legislature, Carol Lynn had a telephone conversation with Sister [Belle] Spafford saying that she had studied ERA, favored it, and would like to make a public statement favoring it. Sister Spafford responded that she thought women ought to speak up forcefully and clearly on things that they had studied, but as for ERA she had studied it and felt to oppose its passage. For one thing, she thought that no additional legislation was needed-that the legislation on the books permitted women to achieve, to advance, to become elevated in what was right and proper for them to do, and she didn’t see any purpose to be served by ERA. She also thought that under present circumstances in the permissive culture of the time and with the student phases of women’s liberation, ERA might serve purposes which are undesirable. [[For more on this controversy, see Bradley’s Pedestals and Podiums.]]                                                                         

            Carol Lynn said that she hoped her appearance on the panel on the side favoring ERA wouldn’t prevent her from continuing to make her unique contributions toward the building of the kingdom.                                                                  

            Carol Lynn left with me a copy of her original unexpurgated draft of Mormon women of the 1870s which is due to appear in the February [1973] issue of the Ensign. A number of things in this were removed by editors of the Ensign for publication purposes. By and large they consisted of items which would seem to encourage women to leave the home and enter professional or business careers.  (6)                                         


Image result for era and mormons
Sonia Johnson via Sonia Johnson, founder of Mormons for E-R-A, addresses a news conference lending her support to a planned demonstration in Richmond for passage of E-R-A during the 1980 session of the general assembly. Mrs. Johnson was recently excommunicated from the Mormon church for vocal support of the Equal Rights Amendment. https://www.gettyimages.fi/detail/news-photo/sonia-johnson-founder-of-mormons-for-e-r-a-addresses-a-news-news-photo/515123938


  • Feb 14, 1973-Wednesday: [Leonard J. Arrington] I was informed yesterday by [New Era editor] Brian Kelly that he had been forced to dump the article on Mormon women by Carol Lynn Pearson that he had previously accepted and scheduled for publication in April. He did not say how this had happened or who had put the pressure on him, but he did say that he could not run the piece after Carol Lynn had appeared before the public and before the Utah Legislature defending the Equal Rights Amendment. This had presumably made her a “controversial” character. Thus, he could not run the piece by her on this subject.                                     

            This very much surprised me-even shocked me-because she told me she thought she had previously gotten clearance from Belle Spafford to do this. Belle Spafford told her specifically that she did not approve of the Equal Rights Amendment, but that she believed that women should speak out on issues that they feel deeply about. The implications of her remarks, according to Carol Lynn, were that she would not be penalized by so doing, and anyway her statement was so mild that no LDS woman could have disagreed with it. Nevertheless, her splendid article is now in limbo. (6)                                     


  • Feb 15, 1973-Thursday: [Leonard J. Arrington] Yesterday when I was in Provo I telephoned Carol Lynn Pearson to see if the information was correct that her article had been withdrawn from the New Era. She said that it was scheduled in the Ensign, not the New Era, and that it was due to appear in the February issue, and that she had no word to the contrary. I told her I had heard that it was being withdrawn because of the sensitivity of the subject she wrote about and this upset her very much. She was more upset by the fact that nobody had told her about the fact that it had been withdrawn. She thought that [editor] Jay Todd would have been more courteous and considerate. The more she thought about it the more upset she became, and there was some crying.                                                              

            I told her I would attempt to determine immediately whether it was true, so I telephoned Jay Todd, and he said yes indeed it was true; that it was not his doing but that two apostles had told him to withdraw the article. Presumably the topic appearing just at this moment was controversial and Carol Lynn having just appeared before the television and the legislature supporting the Equal Rights Amendment was also controversial. Jay said the necessity to withdraw it after it had already been printed and scheduled for the February issue explains why the February issue has been late, and I see the February issue has just now appeared two weeks late. He didn’t tell me what he had substituted for her article. Jay said he didn’t think Carol Lynn knew that it was to have appeared in the February issue, and he hadn’t felt the necessity to tell her because all she knew was that it was to appear in an early issue, and they might very well run it in a later issue when the subject was less sensitive. However, Carol Lynn denies this. She said that she had a very specific understanding with him that it was to appear in the February issue. Apparently Jay forgot that. When I talked to Jay he said that he would telephone her immediately. Although I didn’t hear further from Carol Lynn, I assume that he did so. I did not tell Jay that I had talked to Carol Lynn and told her not to tell him in case he called that I had told her. Carol Lynn said that it was most upsetting to find that not much progress had been made after all in giving women recognition. “It looks like we are destined to be just like a bush-just standing there but not allowed to express ourselves nor be regarded as human beings.” I told Carol Lynn that if the article had been submitted to me for clearance I would have approved it in a minute. I didn’t see any reason why it should be withdrawn.  (6)                                                                        


  • Mar 29, 1973-Thursday: 

    [Leonard J. Arrington] Jay Todd came in my office yesterday and wanted to talk confidentially about Carol Lynn Pearson. Carol Lynn had prepared an article for the Ensign on the struggle for women’s rights in the 1870s in Utah. It was based primarily upon the Woman’s Exponent which was the organ of LDS women’s rights at that time. The article had been accepted and had been scheduled for publication in the March [1973] issue of the Ensign. As a matter of fact it had gone through the galley proof stage and was scheduled to appear. Then at the last moment, I am not sure on whose initiative (Wendell Ashton), the piece was submitted for the reading of Elder Gordon Hinckley who questioned whether to run it because of Carol Lynn’s involvement in the campaign for passage of the Equal Rights Amendment. Carol Lynn had been on a TV panel representing forces favorable to ERA, and she had also appeared before the Utah Legislature favoring the passage of ERA. According to Brother Todd, she is also a member of NOW (National Organization of Women), who are agitating for more women’s rights. Carol Lynn, therefore, had become a “controversial” figure.       

         The Church policy on these matters is primarily that of Belle Spafford, according to Brother Todd. She is the Church’s spokesman for “women’s matters.” Sister Spafford was out of town, and they could not check the article with her, so at Elder Hinckley’s suggestion the article was pulled and for that reason the March issue was almost three weeks late. Sister Spafford thinks the LDS women of the 1870s were agitating only for suffrage and not for other rights. Sister Pearson was not told about any of this. As a matter of fact, she first heard it had been pulled from me after I had heard rumors about it and telephoned to ask her if it was true. When I found out she hadn’t been told it was pulled, I told Jay he should tell her personally and officially as a courtesy. He agreed, but he delayed and delayed, I suppose in order to be able to tell her whether or not it would be run at all; he did not see her until last weekend. He thought badly enough about his failure to talk with her previously that he drove up to Provo to talk with her personally about it. He did not tell her everything I am recording in this diary. Sister Spafford now tells Brother Todd that he ought not to run at any time this article by Carol Lynn-that it will be interpreted by many people as implying Church support of women’s liberation and ERA. Any article by Carol Lynn dealing with the women’s question will have the same effect. For that reason, no article by Carol Lynn can be carried in any Church magazine for the next few months or so. Jay says that the general matter of Church policy on ERA, women’s lib, and so on was taken to the Quorum of the Twelve by Boyd Packer. Carol Lynn had apparently written a four or five page commentary on a draft of the proposed chapter of her Institute [of Religion] text on women”The Yellow Peril.” I gather the letter was not written to Brother Packer and that nobody is supposed to know that he has a copy of it, but in this letter Carol Lynn apparently made some strong statements about the Church being dominated by men, by the priesthood, and that women didn’t have a fair opportunity for expression. He read that letter to the Quorum of Twelve and they were very indignant about it, and that turned the tables on Carol Lynn. Could this have been a letter to Mrs. Rodney Turner about her husband’s book [[Rodney Turner (1922-2014) was a BYU professor of religion who had earned an EdD from USC. He was the author of Woman and the Priesthood, published by Deseret Book in 1972. Previously he had authored a controversial pamphlet he circulated at BYU that contained this poem of his own composition: “Women are doormats and have been / The years those mats applaud / They keep their men from going in / With muddy feet to God.”]] which Carol Lynn had sent to her in confidence as the result of her request?  And could it have then been passed by her husband to Brother Packer, and then he takes it to the Quorum? [“No” added later.] This helps to suggest the care that one must take in all of his communications, even those which he thinks will be held confidential. Taken also to the Quorum of the Twelve was Carol Lynn’s article, the special issue of Dialogue on women, and other matters. We don’t know what went on in the Quorum of Twelve meeting, of course, but the inference is that the brethren of the Twelve took a dim view of the material which has been written by the more ardent women’s lib advocates. Brother Todd never inferred or hinted that my own works were in this category, and I did not ask him specifically about that. The continued warmth of Brother [Howard W.] Hunter and Brother [Joseph] Anderson would suggest that I have not personally been brought into question on this matter. Nevertheless, I have written several things that might be interpreted as supporting this movement. It will be interesting to see whether the New Era goes ahead with their planned publication on my paper on Arizona women.                                       

            Brother Todd thinks so very highly of Carol Lynn and feels so badly about her having been closed off from access to Church publications and possibly to use of her in any capacity as a writer for the films, manuals, and so on, that he asked me to counsel with her “to help her understand these matters and keep her testimony and loyalty.” I told him I would do this, of course, but what can I do when I am indignant myself at this kind of narrow-minded treatment?  (6)                                                       

  • During 1973: In Utah, the attack against ERA had begun when the amendment was first considered by the Utah legislature in 1973. Taking most supporters by surprise, a John Birch Society-backed organization (HOTDOG) lobbied successfully against ratification. (1) 
  • 1974: Apostles Gordon B. Hinckley and James E. Faust meet with Relief Society President, Barbara Smith and tell her to argue against ratification of the ERA in a speech at the University of Utah. (7)
Douglas and Barbara Smith. Salt Lake Tribune archive.
  • Jul 12, 1974: President Belle Spafford of the church’s female Relief Society opposes ratification of the ERA in a speech in New York City. (5)
  • 1975: General Relief Society publicly rejects ERA (8)
  • During Jan 1975:  Church News publishes article decrying Equal Rights Amendment as “not only imperfect, but dangerous,” presenting it as a moral issue, not a political one. (Leonard Arrington: The Writing of Mormon History p. 245)  The editorial denouncing the amendment as “unnecessary,” “uncertain,” and “undesirable”—condemning it as a “unisex” law that fails to acknowledge the “fact that men and women are different, made so by a Divine Creator. Each has his or her role. One is incomplete without the other.” (9) 


  • Feb 18, 1975: Utah legislature, with solid church support after rallying thousands of Mormon women against the issue, votes down Equal Rights Amendment. (Leonard Arrington: The Writing of Mormon History p. 245) (9)
  •  Jun 25, 1975-Wednesday: 

    [Leonard J. Arrington] … Alice [Smith] and I also had an earnest and confidential conversation about Barbara Smith’s stand against ERA, about the gradual removal of Relief Society programs from the Relief Society, and about the general “put down” of women in the Church. Alice speculates that some of this may have been the result of the psychological experiences of some of the brethren when they were young-feelings of insecurity, poor relationships with parents, and so on. (6)

  • During 1975: The amendment went down to defeat again in 1975 despite a more vigorous campaign by supporters. By then opposition to ERA had intensified and expanded. (1) 
Mormon feminist Marilyn Bushman-Carlton publishes this editorial in the Deseret News in 1975. (via Marilyn Bushman-Carlton)
  • 1976: Church president Spencer W. Kimball, issued a statement opposing ratification, saying the amendment ”would strike at the family, humankind’s basic institution.” Church comes out officially against the ERA citing that passing it would give courts more power and that it could potentially harm families by making more way for LGBT rights. “Apparently local Mormons knew of an impending vote even a week earlier than the pro-ERA senators, and they mobilized for immediate action. The Sunday before the bill came to the floor Mormon worshippers heard anti-ERA speeches; the local Relief Societies organized letter-writing campaigns; and the foyer of at least one Mormon chapel contained STOP ERA literature.11 Most of the eleven legislators who switched their votes, several of whom had received campaign money and organizational support from pro-ERA forces, justified their action by referring to a virtual ground swell of letters and phone calls opposing ratification. One Nevada Senator, who linked the defeat to the Mormon church, suggested that “those aren’t prayer meetings they hold on Sundays. Those are precinct meetings.” (10,11)
  • Dec 29, 1976: The First Presidency urges mission presidents and stake presidents “to join others in efforts to defeat the ERA.” In twenty-one states, church members, representing themselves as “concerned citizens,” lobby legislators against ratifying the proposed Constitutional amendment. (5)
  • During 1976: Equation of ERA with sexual permissiveness, abortion, child care, homosexuality, and unisexuality drew the debate away from the constitutional principal of equality to issues of “traditional family values.” But the attack did reflect the fears of many about the changing roles of women and men and about the changing form of the family. There seemed to be danger in equality for the ideological/cultural concept of the father as head and provider, mother as nurturer and manager, and children as replicas into the next generation. Many feared the equality would make women more vulnerable and exposed, that men would feel freer to abandon family responsibilities. Certainly it was these fears which prompted Mormon church leaders to eventually join their financial resources, their promotional skills and their far-flung network of members to the counterrevolution. Church leaders in 1976 described ERA as “a moral issue with many disturbing ramifications for women and for the family as individual members as a whole.” President Spencer Kimball declared it “would strike at the family, humankinds basic institution.” (1)
  • Jan 8, 1977: Apostle Boyd K. Packer speaks at an anti-ERA rally in Pocatello, Idaho. He specifically asks that the amendment, originally passed by the Idaho legislature with a two-thirds majority, be rescinded. On the platform with Packer is Allen Larsen, speaker of the Idaho House of Representatives, who was also a stake president. Two weeks later the Idaho Legislature rescinds the ERA vote by a simple majority.   (12)
  •  Feb 1, 1977: Utah Senator Jake Garn, a faithful Mormon, inserts an anti-ERA speech by Apostle Boyd K. Packer into the Congressional Record.
  • 1977: LDS church publishes and article in the Ensign (official church magazine) by apostle Boyd K. Packer talking about their reasons. It’s based on an address he gave in Idaho. (12)
  • 1977: International Women’s Day begins and the first conference in Utah was really controversial. ” In the 1977 Utah International Women’s Year Conference, the Mormon leadership through Apostle Ezra T. Benson’s office, used the Relief Society and local ward (parish) structures to mobilize ten thousand women to ensure conservative control of the Utah delegation. After consulting men who were present on how to vote, and sometimes even refusing to read resolutions, because they may “sound good” and “deceive” an individual, the Mormon women rejected the entire national slate—even voting against resolutions opposing racism, urging day care, and providing aid to incest victims.” Whether or not adverse publicity led the “brethren,” as Sonia Johnson implies, to orchestrate subsequent events from behind the scenes, their footprints would soon appear in anti-ERA campaigns in Florida and Virginia.” (11)

As part of the Church’s coordinated effort to defeat the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) the International Woman’s Year (IWY) conference in Hawaii is taken over by anti-ERA Mormons, who elected an anti-ERA slate of candidates to attend a national IWY meeting in Houston. Apparently, the anti-ERA forces had targeted Hawaii because it was the first state to ratify ERA and had a state equal rights law. The previous month approximately fourteen thousand Mormon women and men crowded the IWY conference at Salt Lake City and voted down all the proposals brought forward in the meeting, including those in favor of world peace. (11)

  • 1977: “In 1977, Mormon anti-ERA politics invaded Florida. Donald Tucker, speaker of the Florida house of representatives, was a moderate Democrat, an active Mormon, and strong ERA sup porter who was in his sixth term when the anti-ERA campaign engulfed him. Only a week before the legislature convened, his local bishop, upon orders from superiors, reluctantly read Apostle Boyd Packer’s anti-ERA speech at the Sunday service. Still, the bishop pleaded with the congregation to discontinue their Sunday lobbying and allow Tucker a day of rest. For the next two weeks, however, hundreds of “Stoppies,” with their red aprons in the shape of a stop sign, came in charted buses, with many faces from their two wards (congregations) in Tallahassee that were familiar to Ken Driggs, a legislative assistant to Tucker. Support for the ERA among legislators declined from 22 to 19, and ratification eventually lost by a 21 to 19 vote.” (11)

  • Jun 3, 1977: The Relief Society’s general presidency sends a letter to “All Regional Representatives in Utah,” restating Apostle Ezra Taft Benson’s telephoned instructions for each ward bishop to send ten women to the Utah state meeting of the International Women’s Year. This packs the Salt lake City meeting with nearly 14,000 women, who have instructions to vote down any proposal which sounds “feminist” or favorable to the Equal Rights Amendment, including equal pay for equal work and protections for women who were raped. (2)
  • Jul 16, 1977: Saturday: [Leonard J. Arrington] We seem to be going through a period of anti-intellectualism. … 

         And those who insist on his name [being] on the blacklist are Elder [Ezra Taft] Benson and Elder [Mark E.] Petersen. Carol Lynn Pearson was put on the blacklist because she gave a talk four years ago which was mildly favorable to ERA [Equal Rights Amendment]. Through prayers and tears she finally got Elder [Boyd K.] Packer to make an exception for her and she may now continue to publish in Church magazines. But for a period she was on the blacklist. …  (6)

  • During 1977: By 1977 only thirteen additional states had ratified and five states had voted to rescind. (1)
  • 1977-78: Mormons for ERA organized  with Teddie Wood, Sonia Johnson, Maida Withers, and Hazel Rigby form Mormons for ERA in Washington, D.C., lending public support to the Equal Rights Amendment. (10)
  • Jan 29, 1978: NORTH LAS VEGAS VALLEY TIMES story: “Vegas Mormons Dare to Support the ERA.”
  • 1978: The LDS church First Presidency sends out a letter to all church leaders and general authorities telling them why the ERA is a moral issue and encourage members to actively oppose it.
  • 1978: Some members really take this to heart, including the The Oakton Stake in Virginia who founded its own group, the LDS Citizens’ Coalition, with Beverly Campbell as anti-ERA spokeswoman. In Virginia, some members are “called” with the “laying on of hands” to fight the ERA. Anti-ERA pamphlets are taped to ward bulletin boards, and individual members start organizing forums, groups, and organizations to fight the ERA. (13)
  • Apr 3, 1978-Monday: [Leonard J. Arrington] Reflections on the General Conference of April …                

            I enjoyed very much attending the sessions of the conference of Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The talks were nearly all of excellent quality and the music was superb. I thought the Tabernacle Choir which sang Saturday morning and both sessions Sunday was more spirited and more exciting than in many years. I certainly thought it was far better than last October’s conference. The arrangements were good and the singing was outstanding. The conference was harmonious and there was no jarring element. President [Ezra Taft] Benson refrained from giving a political address, and no General Authority in an address made reference to the so-called Church position on ERA [Equal Rights Amendment]. … (6)

  • During July 1978: Sonia Johnson and about twenty others march in Washington, DC, under the banner “Mormons for ERA.” She becomes an articulate spokeswoman for equality. (5)
  • 1978: Sonia Johnson testifies in favor of the ERA extension before the Senate Subcommittee on the Constitution as an extremely active, faithful Mormon mother and wife. The opposition of the church breaks her heart.
  • Aug 5, 1978: UPI story about Sonia Johnson’s appearance before U.S. Senate committee hearing on Equal Rights Amendment: “Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, clashed Friday with a woman of that faith who claimed a substantial number of female members are opposing the church’s mandated opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment. She questioned how Mormon leaders, in their official statement opposing the ERA, can talk about the ‘exalted role of woman in our society’ and yet follow policies in the church that push women into secondary positions. ‘Where equality does not even pertain, the word ‘exalted’ is a mockery,’ she said. ‘One wonders if the leaders of the church would gladly exchange their sex and become so exalted.'”
  • 1978: Home teachers and visiting teachers are found distributing anti-ERA pamphlets to those they are ministering to. (11,13)
  • 1978: Rumors get started about Sonia in her ward that she’s started a “Heavenly Mother Cult” and she is called into the bishop’s office. (14)
  • 1978: The church dispatches Orrin Hatch to publicly condemn Sonia, which leads to a PR disaster for the church. This only serves to galvanize Sonia and the movement.
  • 1978: In 1978, the LDS church encouraged nine thousand female members in greater Las Vegas, Nevada, to canvass their neighborhoods with anti–Equal Rights Amendment pamphlets and encouraged all members to vote against it. (11)
  • 1978: Missouri files suit on antitrust grounds against NOW, claiming it violated the Sherman Antitrust Act by urging groups to boycott unratified states and hold conventions only in ratified states. The church responds by sending Beverly Campbell to speak in St. Louis saying Mormons aren’t involved in politics.
  • 1978: Stakes and ward, in Missouri, Utah, Arizona, and Virginia began collecting money to oppose ERA and lobbying against it.
  • Aug 18, 1978: Mormon feminist Sonia Johnson cables Utah Senators Orrin Hatch and Jake Garn: “Since you have announced your intention to filibuster when the ERA extension bills comes before the Senate, I am announcing my intention to begin fasting on the Capitol steps in Washington as soon as the filibuster begins-a genuine Mormon fast, without food or liquid-and to continue until you stop talking or I die.” Johnson later applies for a permit to stand on the front steps of the Capitol building. “Mormons Against ERA” in reply announce their intentions to hold family home evening on the Capitol steps. Garn and Hatch decide not to filibuster. Johnson writes “I rather think that neither the church nor the Utah senators were willing to chance the sensational headlines: ‘Mormon Woman Dies of Mormon Senator’s Prolixity.’” Fifteen months later Johnson is excommunicated. In a talk at BYU Apostle Bruce R. McConkie discusses the recent revelation granting “all worthy males” the priesthood. “The Lord could have sent messengers from the other side to deliver it, but he did not. He gave the revelation by the power of the Holy Ghost. Latter-day Saints have a complex: many of them desire to magnify and build upon what has occurred, and they delight to think of miraculous things. And maybe some of them would like to believe that the Lord himself was there, or that the Prophet Joseph Smith came to deliver the revelation (see Time, 7 Aug. 1978, p. 55), which was one of the possibilities. Well, these things did not happen.” He further states, “Forget everything that I have said, or what President Brigham Young or President George Q. Cannon or whomsoever has said in days past that is contrary to the present revelation. We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world. We get our truth and our light line upon line and precept upon precept. We have now had added a new flood of intelligence and light on this particular subject, and it erases all the darkness and all the views and all the thoughts of the past. They don’t matter any more. It doesn’t make a particle of difference what anybody ever said about the Negro matter before the first day of Jun of this year.
  • Aug 29, 1978-Tuesday: [Leonard J. Arrington]     Maureen [Beecher] came in today and said she had a long talk with Becky Cornwall. They had to “talk through” their positions on the “prayer for the extension of ERA” campaign. [[Some LDS women were urging a prayer campaign in support of the movement to extend the ERA ratification deadline.]] Two or three points: First, it was not Becky’s idea. She was put up to it by Jan Tyler and Sonia Johnson. An inner light told her at the time it was not the right thing to do but she was persuaded to do it and thought she ought to “stand out on the front line.” So she went ahead and did it, but as soon as the mail started coming in she realized it was the wrong thing to do, and her inner light told her that she must disengage herself from the movement immediately. She realized this would be a Benedict Arnold thing to do, but her inner light told her it was the right thing and so she went ahead and told Jan that she was resigning from it and that she was now carrying on the campaign in the same way that Maureen and Jill and others are doing. Maureen felt free to tell her about our conversation at the meeting with Lavina [Fielding Anderson] and Jay Todd the other day in which I mentioned that I don’t agree with the campaign but defended her staunchly as a person, even though she had done it, and indicated in the strongest language that this did not affect our friendship in any way. Becky was glad to hear that. Becky indicated to Maureen that she missed Grace and hoped to be with her again soon. (6)
  • Sep 1, 1978: DENVER POST article “LDS Urges Anti-ERA Letters to Senators.”
  • Sep 18, 1978-Monday: [Leonard J. Arrington] Women’s Conference …                                            

     Grace and I learned that the entire program was being broadcast Sunday at 6:30 p.m. on [BYU TV] Channel 11. We got home from church at about 6:40, in time to hear most of Sister Ruth Funk’s talk. We then heard the remainder of the program-Elaine Cannon, Barbara Smith, President [Spencer W.] Kimball, and the chorus.10 Our impressions were not substantially different from those of Carol, although we did think Barbara Smith was just a little stern-perhaps not as accommodating as she might have been to some of the sisters who do not agree with Church statements on ERA. And we thought President Kimball might have been just a little more conciliatory than he was to the same women. I’ll report in this diary in the days to come if I get reactions from other persons. I’ve not asked Maureen [Beecher] or Jill [Derr] their own impressions. (6)                                          

  •  Sep 29, 1978-Friday: 

    [Leonard J. Arrington] This morning I went to the Regional Representatives seminar which lasted from 8:00 o’clock until 12:15; the auditorium was full. Departmental officers like myself were also invited to the dinner which followed on the 26th floor, and I enjoyed eating with some of the Regional Representatives. President [Spencer W.] Kimball gave the keynote address, which lasted approximately an hour, and it was one of the most eloquent and moving talks that I have heard him give-and that’s saying something, since he always gives splendid talks. At the beginning of his talk he made two announcements: 1. The First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve have now determined that it is permissible for sisters to offer prayers in any meeting that they attend. This includes Sunday Schools, sacrament meetings, prayers in homes that they are in as visiting teachers, and so on. The Brethren have determined there is no scriptural objection to this. 2. The wives of general authorities who accompany their husbands on official trips should wear dresses and not pantsuits.                                                                              

            President Kimball then talked for a while about a variety of subjects. I am asking Kathy [Stephens] to type the notes I made for whatever sense they may carry, and also notes I made about the rest of the morning’s program. President Kimball               

            Genealogical work. | [[I have inserted vertical bars to separate each of Kimball’s thoughts since Arrington’s notes, as he predicted, are not easy to follow. For the full text of Kimball’s talk, see “The Ut- termost Parts of the Earth,” Ensign, July 1979.]] Neglect of old and poor people. | Women carrying children [in utero] sometimes don’t eat properly. Don’t let [them] suffer in silence. Be aware of needs. …  (6)             

  • During 1978: The First Presidency released a statement on August 24 outlining reasons for their opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment including “unnatural consequences” like an “increase in the practice of homosexual and lesbian activities”. [[“First Presidency Reaffirms Opposition to ERA”. lds.org. LDS Church. Retrieved 16 November 2016.]] (15)
  • Feb 12, 1979-Monday: 

    [Leonard J. Arrington] After church Sunday we went to the apartment of Jan Tyler, as the response of an invitation from her and from Carol Lynn Pearson, who is staying with her for two or three days. Just Jan and Carol Lynn and Grace and myself. We had a little Sunday evening snack and talked until after 10:00 p.m. I was happy to get better acquainted with Jan. She has not had employment for several months and doesn’t seem to be able to get any. Her present plan is to sell her condominium apartment and move to California-the Bay area and see if she can find something there. She is very bright, very honest and frank, very well trained. She has books and articles in her mind that she wants to write. I should think she would make a first rate counselor, so sensitive to the needs and interests of other people. She has never filled a [proselytizing] mission for the Church in a formal sense, but has obviously done personal missionary work. She said she has converted at least one person every year for the last seven years. She really is well versed in the gospel. She was born in Twin Falls, I think, and lived there until she was four or five; then her family moved to Walla Walla, Washington, where she went to school, I think through junior high; then to Scottsdale, Arizona, where as I recall she did high school and went to Arizona State. Meantime her family moved back to Walla Walla where they still remain. Her father [Lloyd Tyler] is the twelfth of twelve children-a young brother of [history professor] Lyman Tyler. She does not know all her uncles and aunts, but knows Lyman and [his sister] Jewel [Tyler] very well; those are the two that I am acquainted with, also. I think I had a few dates with Jewel. Jan has a lot to offer and she blames to some extent the patriarchal nature of the Mormon and Utah society for her failure to find work here, plus, I suppose, her active efforts with the IWY [International Women’s Year] conference and campaigning for ERA [Equal Rights Amendment]. As far as Grace and I could tell, she is fairly firm in the gospel although she thinks our society does not offer enough to women. She seemed to be pleasant and outgoing and very cheerful. (6)                           

  • Aug 14, 1979-Tuesday: 

    [Leonard Arrington]  Elder Durham has received a letter from the presidency of the Relief Society, asking us to do a study of the role of women in the Church during the  19 century and early 20th century. They want a fully documented study and want it completed by the end of August. There are only 12 working days left in August. Elder Durham said it is an unreasonable request and impossible to fulfill, but for me to ask Carol [Cornwall Madsen], Jill [Mulvay Derr], and Maureen [Ursenbach Beecher] to have something put together in three or four days, and give it to him. (6)                                            


  • 1979: “Legislators from Idaho, Arizona and Washington state file suit in federal court challenging the constitutionality of the ERA extension and seeking to validate a state’s power to rescind a prior ratification. The case is assigned to Judge Marion Callister, who at the time the litigation began (and 6 months after) held a high office (Regional Representative) in the hierarchy of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly known as the Mormon Church. The Church officially and actively opposes the ERA and the ERA extension and supports rescission.” (16)
  • 1979: Sonia gives a famed speech that was mild to the rest of the world, but pretty terrifying to Mormons and especially leadership. Her speech, titled, ” “Patriarchal Panic: Sexual Politics in the Mormon Church” was delivered to the American Psychological Association (APA) in New York City in September 1979. “What really got me,” she said in an interview, “was that our leaders were telling the women to say that they were not Mormons.” (7)
  • Sep 14, 1979: The WASHINGTON POST devotes the entire top of a page to a photograph of the banner flown by the tow plane over the neighborhood where and LDS area conference is being held: “Mother in Heaven Loves Mormons for ERA.” This is the only mention of the conference in the newspaper. Mark Hofmann and Doralee Olds are sealed for time and eternity in the Salt Lake Temple. (17)
  • Sep 18, 1979-Tuesday: 

    [Leonard J. Arrington]     Kathy [Stephens] says TV Channel 2’s Extra [news program] had an interview with Sonia Johnson; here’s her description: it was more sympathetic to her than completely neutral. Showed her in her home, at her ward meetinghouse, playing the organ. She talked about the same things she always does: emphasized that the President [Spencer W. Kimball] wouldn’t grant her or a group of her associates an interview. Mentioned a conversation with her bishop relating to that, and the interviewer reported that the bishop had denied such a conversation, and then five minutes later had said there was a conversation but he couldn’t remember what was said. She stressed that the leaders didn’t know how many women and men are feeling as she does, and insisted that there are a great many more than they realize. They also showed a get-together of some associates, with comments by some of them. She insisted that the women involved were as family-oriented as any women anywhere. Also interviewed [general Relief Society president] Barbara Smith briefly on the subject. The interviewer pushed, rather rudely, to make her say whether the First Presidency’s stand [against the Equal Rights Amendment] was based on opinion or revelation. She finally said, “I don’t know, but it doesn’t matter,” and then went on to say that whichever it was, it was their stand and it had been the result of careful, prayerful consideration and was “the” word to follow, because they are the First Presidency. They also mentioned that Sonia had written a great deal, had her doctorate, and had just spoken to the APA [American Psychological Association], and quoted several lines from that speech. I asked Maureen [Beecher] about the women’s conference Saturday night, since neither Grace nor Peggy [Bitton] nor Kathy [Stephens] went. Maureen said it was a splendid conference, positive and heartwarming. President Kimball’s talk, dictated from his hospital bed, emphasized points that he had made last year. In addition, he dwelt for some time on the women whose primary career can not be motherhood-single women, widows, divorcees, etc., and women who must work outside the home. President Kimball said men and women are equal, always have been, always will be; made a comparison of motherhood and sisterhood for women and fatherhood and priesthood for men. Maureen thinks President Kimball is not accustomed to thinking in terms of movements and public relations and political aspects, so his warm, enlightened view on women didn’t come through in the UPI [United Press International] interview. But when it comes down to an internal context, speaking to people within the Church, and thinking of individual women, he is really very enlightened and positive. His talk was read by [his wife] Sister Kimball, and that added a good deal to it. Barbara Smith devoted most of her talk to women in the home. She pointed out that women could do public service and still be in the home, and that being out of the house doesn’t necessarily mean that women are out of the home. Her talk was positive and would be received well by most women.                                                                            

            Elaine Cannon [Young Women’s president] “did her usual thing” and overdid the advice that women must do what the Brethren want them to do. But it was all right-not objectionable.                                                                             

            Naomi Shumway [Primary president] gave a very warm and positive talk, well delivered and well thought out and really excellent, Maureen thought. [[See “The Role of Righteous Women” (Kimball); “Women for the Latter Day” (Smith); “Our Mighty Errand” (Cannon); and “Teaching Our Little Women” (Shumway), in Ensign, Nov. 1979.]]                    

            Up to the closing prayer, which prayed that women would promise to remain in the home and do what needs to be done in the home, Maureen thought it was very positive and warm and helpful. (6)                                                                 

  • Fall 1979: Neal and Rebecca Chandler of Cleveland Heights, Ohio, respond to a request from the National Organization of Women to host a discussion group of Mormons with Sonia Johnson, known nationally as a Mormon equal rights activist. A few weeks later at stake conference, Elder James E. Faust outlines the church’s stand against the Equal Rights Amendment. After the meeting he and two members of the stake presidency overhear Neal expressing distress about the church’s “dissembling about organized lobbying campaigns in Virginia and Florida and Missouri.” For the next several years, Chandler later discovered, each time his bishop, Peter Gail, proposed him for executive positions, he “was told that this was not a possibility and was admonished to stop raising it as though it were.” (11)
  • Oct 5, 1979: Apostle Gordon B. Hinckley, chair of Special Affairs Committee, instructs “all of Missouri and Illinois stake presidents and state[wide] ERA coordinators” about how to conduct LDS inti-ERA campaign, including: “Church building[s] may be used for ERA education.”      (2)


  • Oct 8, 1979-Monday: [Leonard J. Arrington] Reflections on General Conference                                 

            … It seemed like there were as many outside as inside. I am sure that was not true, but enormous crowds of people were there. The conference was entirely pleasant, no jarring or tension-building aspects. According to a report in the Salt Lake Tribune, some persons connected with Mormon women for ERA [Equal Rights Amendment] had arranged to have a plane flying above Temple Square for about 30 minutes, carrying a banner stating, “Mother in Heaven Loves Mormons for ERA.” But I did not see it nor did I see anyone looking at the sky, nor did I hear anyone make any remark about it. So it did not produce any great stir.  (6)                                                                         

  • Nov 26, 1979-Monday: [Leonard Arrington]     I learned over the weekend that Sonia Johnson is really Sonia Harris Johnson, the daughter of Alvin Harris, James’s seminary teacher in high school. The family lived in the [Logan] First Ward, of which Don Rigby was bishop. Chris [Rigby Arrington] knew the family well, apparently lived close to them, and so she has known who Sonia Johnson was all along, I suppose. All of us who knew Alvin Harris find it easier to understand why Sonia might have turned out to be a little more rebellious than many Mormon girls, and her presence in Logan also explains some of her intellectual and verbal skills. (6)
  • Dec 1, 1979: That December, Sonia is excommunicated for “a variety of misdeeds, including hindering the worldwide missionary program, damaging internal Mormon social programs, and teaching false doctrine.” Rumors begin swirling among Mormon congregations that Sonia was up to even more wicked, cultish things behind the scenes. She was accused of being a prostitute and being on drugs. Sonia, clearly not guilty of those things, repeatedly said she would repent of any of her sins, but she just wanted to see the ERA passed. Her pleas fell on deaf ears to her local leaders. (11,14)

 Sonia Johnson is tried and excommunicated in a bishop’s court. During the previous year, the Church Public Affairs Committee, while claiming that Mormons against the ERA were acting independently as concerned citizens, had organized covert activities including the following: Some wards in Virginia distributed brochures and petitions in their lobbies “linking Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum with the LDS Virginia Citizens Coalition.” “The newsletter of the McLean Virginia Stake” announced “that President Spencer W. Kimball had enlisted the membership to fight the ERA.” “Funds raised by Virginia bishops were laundered by a pseudo-account called FACT (Families Are Concerned Today). “Wardhouses and church meetings were used in Florida to lobby legislators. . . . Church Boy Scout troops passed out anti-ERA literature to ward members in Arizona. . . . Anti-ERA leaders were set apart in Missouri where Relief Society sisters were bused (wearing dresses and carrying sack lunches, as instructed) from stake centers to the state legislature.” President Hinckley at a press conference the day after the church’s sesquicentennial celebration on 6 April 1980 “appeared on NBC’s `The Today Show,’ denying that the Church had bused Relief Society sisters to legislatures in Missouri and Illinois.” The aftermath includes “excommunications, disfellowshipments, releases from Church jobs, revoked temple recommends, voiced fears, hurt, and despair of scores if not hundreds of women, one of whom took her own life.” At several subsequent general conferences, Mormons for the ERA pay for airplanes to tow banners over Temple Square announcing “Patriarchy is Malarky” and “Mother in Heaven Loves Mormons for ERA.” As another consequence a group of Mormon women with historical and feminist interests who have been regularly meeting for lunch at the Lion House or in a dining room off the church cafeteria since 1974 plan a book of historical and theological essays on Mormon women. (18)                               

Image result for era and mormons
Phyllis Schlafly and the Modern Mormon Political Image via https://professorpark.wordpress.com/2016/09/06/phyllis-schlafly-and-the-modern-mormon-political-image/


  • Dec 5, 1979: The announcement of the excommunication of Sonia Johnson, president of the Mormons for the ERA. Charged with apostasy she unsuccessfully appeals the decision to the First Presidency (which already authorized this “local action”). Johnson’s case becomes the top story in the New York Times, Christian Science Monitor, Washington Post, Time, Newsweek, and on network television news. The resulting non-Mormon criticism of the church and Johnson’s own subsequent radicalization drive many LDS moderates away from their prior support of the proposed Equal Rights Amendment and into acceptance of the church’s anti-ERA position. (2)                                                                                     


  • Dec 13, 1979-Thursday: [Leonard J. Arrington] Further Reflections on the Sonia Johnson Case In the past few days I have had the opportunity of talking with two or three people about the Sonia Johnson case. Both of them are “insiders” in a way, and so I have considerable confidence in what they have told me. I’ll convey the information as I recall it without any attempt to organize. Eight persons were present to testify at the trial of Sonia Johnson, but the bishop permitted only four [five] to testify-three [four] women, one man. Each of the witnesses for Sonia was allowed approximately twenty minutes. Each made a presentation and was then asked some questions. Those who testified were under the impression that the principal complaint against Sonia had to do with talks she had given in Provo and Salt Lake City. But apparently the paper which Sonia gave to the American Psychological Association around the first of September [1979] was a principal consideration in the bishop’s court. There were some remarks in that paper which furnished very strong evidence of Sonia’s lack of confidence in Church leadership, and one could pick out phrases which were unwise on her part to use. It appears that copies of the paper were obtained and distributed rather widely. The bishop had a copy on his desk during the trial, and one of the questions he asked at least one of the witnesses was whether she had heard Sonia deliver the paper with certain quotes, which he then read. This person had not heard Sonia present the paper, so could not say that the duplicated paper was precisely the way Sonia had given it. The paper, I learned, was also duplicated by the Associated Women Students at BYU and copies distributed rather widely on the BYU campus. Presumably the object in doing this was to let the women students know just how “far out” Sonia had been in that scholarly gathering. Also I was told that many of Sonia’s friends regard her as having been “captured” by the women’s movement, and that she has been persuaded by those who do not have her personal interest at heart to do things which would tend to diminish the Church’s influence in opposing ERA nationally. Even her husband, I was told, opposed her succumbing to this strategy, and it led to such an interfamily conflict that she and her husband separated for several months. It was the separation, I am told, which led to the boy going to Logan to attend Logan High. When the bishop decided to hold the trial for Sonia, she went to her husband and in an emotional session persuaded him to come back and stand by her, which he agreed to do, and as far as people know, he is still standing by her at this time.              

         Another item which I learned was that when Sonia first heard from the bishop about the decision to have the trial, she telephoned the stake president to ask for a high council trial instead. The stake president at first agreed to this and then upon consultation with Church authorities found that it was not proper procedure, and telephoned her back to say that she would have to go through the bishop’s court first and then appeal the case to the stake high council. Apparently there is an ambiguous phrase in the Relief Society lesson presented in October which led Sonia and some of those consulting with her to misinterpret. Apparently there is a phrase which says that a member of the Melchizedek Priesthood should be tried by the high council, and Sonia was saying that she ought to have the same right because her husband held the Melchizedek Priesthood, and if she did not have the right, then clearly women were not equal with their husbands. My understanding of Church procedure is that the only people for whom the high council is the original trial court is with stake officers: members of the high council, presidents of Melchizedek Priesthood quorums, stake auxiliary officers, and so on. All other cases, male or female, as I have always understood it, must first go through bishop’s court. So according to my understanding of Church government, it was proper procedure for her to go first to the bishop’s court, and that would have been equally true of her husband, assuming that he was not a stake officer. (N.B. [nota bene], the General Handbook of Instructions says that a Melchizedek Priesthood holder may be disfellowshipped but cannot be excommunicated by a bishop’s court-excommunication can only come from a high council court.) My observation of the reception of the results of the trial among LDS in this area is that the overwhelming majority of them believe that the decision could not have been otherwise than what it was. This despite the fact that most of the stories, before, during, and after the trial, have been slanted in favor of Sonia. This is simply because she and her close associates on this matter have used the media to advantage. Our system-our culture-tends to support Church authorities in whatever action they are taking, so that is no doubt part of it. Another factor is that both the father and brother of Sonia, despite their love and compassion for her, thought that she would have to be excommunicated. Both of those and some other close friends of Sonia’s that I have talked with emphasize that she is not really speaking as herself in the extreme statements she has made but has gotten carried away by “the movement.” I’ve also been told that the bishop counseling with her over the past 18 months has been more directed toward preservation of her family, which was threatened by her total commitment to the feminist movement, than toward trying to persuade her that the Church’s position on ERA was correct. In other words, according to what I have been told, it was not so much her belief that the Church was wrong that induced the bishop to “take up a labor of love” but more her abandonment of her family-her full commitment-her being willing to sacrifice her Church standing in the interests of the movement. There are at least some friends of Sonia who believe that she sought martyrdom in the interest of the Cause.                                                                                     

            Well, those are items that I have picked up in the past few days, and most of them have been channeled through two people who were very close to the entire episode. Two hours after dictating the above I read the article by Pat Buchanan in the Salt Lake Tribune for this morning. A copy of that is here attached. [[Patrick J. Buchanan, “Sonia’s Bishop Was the Real Hero,” Salt Lake Tribune, Dec. 13, 1979. Buchanan was the founder of the American Conservative magazine and a syndicated columnist, formerly an advisor to US presidents Nixon, Ford, and Reagan.]] (6)                                                


  • During 1979: In 1978, when proponents of ERA knew they could not achieve thirty-eight state ratifications by 1979, they succeeded in gaining an extension of time. In the Congressional hearings on 15 August Senator Orrin Hatch squared off against a D.C. area housewife, Sonia Johnson, who had been born and raised in Logan, Utah, and was an active Mormon. Her feisty testimony in support of ERA caught media attention and Sonia became a lightening rod for Mormon and other religious supporters of equality. (1)                                      
Image result for era and mormons
Mormons for ERA via: https://exhibits.lib.utah.edu/s/aileen-h-clyde-20th-century-women-s-legacy-archive/page/sonia-johnson


  • 1980: An anti-ERA pamphlet is inserted in the March issue of the church magazine, the Ensign. Mormon organizations including the Exponent ii and Dialogue began to distance themselves from Sonia.
  • 1980: Beverly Campbell, the woman “called” by her leaders in Virginia to oppose the ERA and church RS president Barbara Smith go on the Phil Donahue show to argue against Sonia. (21)
  • 1980: A pamphlet prepared by the Relief Society,”Why Mormon Women Oppose the ERA,” for instance and “The Equal Rights Dilemma” published with funding by the church, but not publicly identifying as such public communications and reissued in Missouri with the Citizens Council logo.
    Eagle Forum and Stop ERA literature is also distributed in ward lobbies and at meetings. (11)
  • Jan 17, 1980-Thursday:  [Leonard J. Arrington] Yesterday during my day home I listened to the morning rebroadcast of the Donahue show which had been done originally on December 23 [1979]. [[The Phil Donahue Show was a syndicated television talk show. For Johnson’s appear- ance, see Bradley, Pedestals and Podiums, 382-83.]] Following that one-hour show, with Sonia Johnson as the sole guest, was the Church’s half-hour response in which Beverly Campbell [[Beverly B. Campbell (1931-2017) was chair of the Virginia LDS Citizens Coalition and LDS spokesperson in the state. She was previously director of the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation when it helped to create the Special Olympics. Her interview following the]] of Virginia LDS Citizens Against ERA responded to questions put by a reporter.                             

            There were several false impressions conveyed by Sonia Johnson and Donahue in the show; first of all, Donahue said that they had invited the Church to make a response-and the Church had refused to do so. This was wrong on two counts; actually they invited [Relief Society president] Barbara Smith to be on the program and Barbara Smith already had appointments which she could not break, and she was not able to appear, and so she asked that Beverly Campbell represent her. But Sonia absolutely refused to appear on the program with Beverly Campbell. So it proved to be a one-woman show with no Church response. The local [Salt Lake City] Channel 4 station, however, offered the Church “in accordance with the fairness doctrine” to present a response, and that is how the Beverly Campbell interview came to be made.                                                               

            Sonia herself also made a big point of the judge in Idaho [[Marion J. Callister (1921-97) had been on the US District Court since 1976. In his religious practice, he had been a bishop, stake president, and regional representative, making him, as the Associated Press wrote (Dec. 14, 1979), “a member of the hierarchy of the Mormon Church.” His law degree was from the University of Utah.]] who will rule on the validity of extending the ERA deadline. She said that he was a Regional Representative”equivalent of an archbishop”-being prejudiced on this matter against ERA because of his Church commitments. Actually, the judge was released from his Regional Representative position the previous October and so was not that “very high Church official” which Sonia insisted he was. Of course Sonia might have had no way of knowing this, but she might have done her homework and checked with the judge himself on it.                                                       

            I was not favorably impressed with Sonia and her presentation. Her statements critical of the Church were pretty strong, and she seemed to be playing to the audience, most of whom were obviously militant feminists, and applauded her frequently. Sonia seemed to be enjoying holding the Church and its officials up to ridicule. It is difficult for me to believe, on the basis of her performance, that she regrets for one minute her excommunication from the Church. It was pretty obvious that she was wanting it, and was doing everything she could to be sure that they would excommunicate her. I can understand now why the bishop finally gave up laboring with her and decided to go through with it.     

            Beverly Campbell talked very fast and said a great deal in the half hour she had. What she said seemed to be both reasonable and accurate, and also honest and forthright. [[“I try to be sympathetic with women’s goals and movements,” Arrington subse- quently wrote, “but I must say that I was turned off by Sonia’s hour. She stretched and]] Donahue show is preserved as “KTVX interview with Beverly Campbell, 10:30 a.m., Jan. 16, 1980,” Church History Library. (8)                                                           


  • Feb 1, 1980: (Feb.) LDS church magazines, the Ensign and the New Era, insert the pamphlet ‘The Church and the Proposed Equal Rights Amendment: A Moral Issue,’ which includes previous statements against the ERA and also a new set of arguments against it. This same month, the Exponent II publishes the results of a survey showing that 66 percent of this feminist periodical’s readers define themselves as “very active” in the LDS church. (2)
  • Feb 4, 1980-Monday: [Leonard J. Arrington]     Last night Grace and I watched TV from 8:00 p.m. to 11:15. At 8 o’clock was the Voyage of Charles Darwin-a beautifully done show. At 9:00 was Masterpiece Theatre-The Duchess of Duke Street. [[The Duchess of Duke Street, a BBC drama series, showed a London woman advanc- ing from cook to owner of a hotel.]] At 10:00 was the news, followed at 10:15 by [local talk show] Take Two, which featured an interview between [journalist] Pat Greenlaw and Sonia Johnson. Sonia was out here to deliver two or three talks. Listeners could phone in questions. Of the eight or nine questions which they had time to handle, all but one were from men. The woman’s question was worded in such a way that it was obvious she was anti-ERA and anti- [against] Mormons for ERA.                    

            Sonia clearly was trying to be more humble and sincere and sympathetic toward the Utah climate than when she appeared on the Donahue show in December. She handled herself well and became flustered during only one moment.                                   

            The station had invited a representative of the LDS Church to appear with her on the program, and they had appointed a woman to do so (name unannounced). But Sonia had refused to appear with that person. When Pat asked her why she refused to appear with the LDS person she said she refused to appear with anybody who was not a policy-making authority, meaning presumably a member of the First Presidency or Quorum of the Twelve. She did not want to give the impression, she said, that women were against women. She would appear only if a man were present! One of the listeners telephoned in to ask if that wasn’t sexist. In her comments and responses she specifically mentioned “[Gordon B.] Hinckley, [Boyd K.] Packer, [Neal A.] Maxwell.” Apparently, according to her information those are the people who are directing the Mormon efforts against ERA.                            

            Sonia said she was continuing to visit in states where Mormons were conducting campaigns against ERA in the legislature and trying to make clear to the legislatures that these are not representative citizens but Mormons told to lobby by the Church.       

            Sonia said she still had a testimony of the gospel and still believed she was a Mormon, although excommunicated. When asked if President [Spencer W.] Kimball announced that his opposition to ERA was based on revelation would she then accept his view, she fumbled around a while and said she couldn’t imagine this happening and she would have to think very hard before she would give up her intense belief in ERA as the instrument for bringing about equality. She was asked about women being drafted and she said she thought it would happen with or without ERA.                                                   

            Yesterday morning on a talk show on Channel 19 in Denver appeared some persons to discuss the [Leanne] Boyd [[Arrington mistakenly wrote “Jean” but meant Leanne M. Boyd, the twenty-seven- year-old resident of Lakewood, Colorado, who requested her name to be removed from church records in December 1979, stating Sonia Johnson’s excommunication as the reason. See “ERA Comment, Criticism,” Milwaukee Sentinel, Dec. 17, 1979.]] affair-[Leanne] Boyd had sent a letter to the Church resigning because of the excommunication of Sonia. Appearing on the program also was the head of the RLDS Church and another local minister; I think Presbyterian. (8)                                                       


  • Feb 11, 1980: PEOPLE magazine article “Sonia Johnson’s Excommunication by the Mormons Cut ‘Big String’ that Held Her Marriage Together.”                                                        


  • Feb 20, 1980-Wednesday: 

    [Leonard J. Arrington]     I asked Mary [Bradford] some questions about Sonia Johnson, and here are some things I learned. Sonia, Mary says, is a very good example of a very orthodox Mormon; that is, in terms of beliefs and doctrines. She is a straight arrow. She has never been plagued by doubts. From this standpoint she is a very sincere, believing, confiding, practicing Latter-day Saint. After the ERA business came out, as one who believed that Mormonism had given women an elevated status, she thought ERA was quite consistent with the gospel. She accepted it on the basis that it was in line with gospel principles and Church practices. Some of the women in Sonia’s ward had gotten together for “awareness” meetings. Most of these women who were regular attenders”activists”-were women who had had trouble with their husbands. They were divorcees or separated. The principal ones, Mary said, were Teddy Wood, Maida Withers, [[Maida Rust Withers (1936-) was a choreographer who was born in Kanab, Utah; graduated from BYU and the University of Utah; and studied contemporary dance in Ger- many. She founded the Dance Construction Company in Washington, DC, in 1974, and saw it progress to having annual performances at the Kennedy Center and internationally, continuing for forty years. She was a civil rights supporter and soon-to-be environmentalist.]] and Sonia. Teddy Wood, Mary said, was bitter and angry; neither Maida nor Sonia were. This little group, presumably the one to which Margaret Woodworth spoke several months ago, [[See diary, Dec. 20, 1979.]] were very upset when they discovered that certain elements in the Church were conducting an intensive campaign against ERA.                                                                                       

         This group interpreted that as beyond the proper limits of Church activity and felt that if these Church “right wingers” could carry out a campaign against the amendment, they (the Mormons for ERA) could seek to counteract them. They did organize “Mormons for ERA.” After long discussion they decided that Sonia should be their front-person. They decided this because she was the one person in the group who was not divorced, she had a reputation for being a straight arrow and orthodox in her doctrines and beliefs, and she was a sincere, intelligent, and dedicated person. Most of the members of this group now feel that it may have been a mistake to have chosen Sonia to be their spokesperson. They had not counted upon her excommunication. The excommunication would not have hurt the others as much as it hurt Sonia, and of course Sonia subsequently had the divorce from her husband-something they had not expected. Mary said that some of the things that were done by Mormons for ERA were the ideas of Teddy Wood. For example, the ideas of running the airplane over conference in October trailing the banner Mormons for ERA was strictly Teddy Wood’s idea. Mary says that this thing went farther than any of them expected-especially farther than Sonia expected. Mary says that she does not believe Sonia is on an ego trip and that she has [not] reveled in the wide publicity and place in the national news which she has come to have. Mary said this whole business, as far as Sonia is concerned, started with her questioning by [Utah] Senator [Orrin] Hatch. [[Hatch invited Johnson to address the US Senate Subcommittee on Constitutional Rights in August 1978. See Bradley, Pedestals and Podiums, 335-36.]] If that episode had not occurred, none of the rest that followed would have; but Hatch sort of dared her and she was courageous enough to take the dare. Mary says Sonia has ego, but not nearly as much as people have supposed. Mary says that while Sonia has been excommunicated by her bishop, the other sisters, Teddy Wood, Maidia Withers, etc., have spoken up in their wards and have not particularly had any trouble with their bishops. Mary thinks that Sonia could have lived in a dozen wards in the area and never have been brought to trial. Mary does not suppose that Bishop [Jeffrey] Willis was put up to this; he was simply a person who perhaps showed an excess of zeal in doing what he thought was the right thing. Mary said she would not be surprised if the stake president decided to suggest a new trial or to overrule the bishop’s judgment. Mary says that Sonia has repented of the extreme things she said in her Montana talk and in the paper she gave to the American Psychological Association. But she of course has not repented of her opposition to                                                                       

         ERA. Sonia is delighted with one development. She has gotten the Church to openly state that one may speak up for ERA without jeopardizing membership in the Church. It is just the extreme of her speaking against President [Spencer W.] Kimball and urging people not to accept the missionaries that got her into trouble. Mary thinks that Sonia’s mother’s support of her is undoubtedly due to her knowledge that Sonia is basically an orthodox girl. Mary says that she finds these angry LDS women who favor ERA to be made up almost exclusively of women who had highly orthodox, stern fathers and who had husbands who were not considerate. Sonia’s husband had carried her here and there to various places in the world in connection with his work, and she thought that her family was of the size that another move would not be good for them. So when he told her they were going to Africa for eight months, she refused to take the family and go with him. Mary thinks during that stage he found another woman and that was the basis of their divorce. I didn’t get a chance to ask Mary how she explained that temporary reconciliation of Sonia and her husband during the weeks of the trial and preparation for the trial. I have been surprised, this week, to be visited by two persons who wanted to “set me straight” on some issues. (8)  



  • Feb 25, 1980-Monday: [Leonard J. Arrington] I just learned from a more dependable and informed source more about the preparation of the ERA pamphlet in the March issue[s] of the New Era and Ensign. [[The pamphlet, The Church and the Proposed Equal Rights Amendment: A Moral Issue, was inserted in the March 1980 issues.]] The question of what to do about the Sonia Johnson affair had been discussed among the Twelve. That this had been going on was mentioned in the First Quorum of Seventies meeting. Elder [M. Russell] Ballard, in trying to think of something that the Church magazines could do for the Church, conceived the idea of including this pamphlet in the two issues. He convened a meeting of Jay Todd and Brian Kelly, at which he instructed them to prepare such a pamphlet and to put it in the March issue. “But the March issue is due to go to press in two weeks!” “Yes, but we can still make it. You have a week to prepare a first draft and then we can have a week to refine it in the final form and send it to the printer.”                                                      

            Those involved in the preparation of the pamphlet were Jay and Brian, Vivian Paulsen of the New Era, and Elizabeth Shaw of the Ensign. They held conversations with Barbara Smith, with Elaine Cannon, with Rex Lee, and Beverly Campbell, and possibly others. The original idea was to have the pamphlet be a kind of supplement to articles by Barbara Smith and Elaine Cannon. But as they probably anticipated, those two articles were not good and so the pamphlet really took the place of those two articles.                    

            The first draft went through Jay and Brian and Elder Ballard. The seventh draft went to Elder [Gordon B.] Hinckley. His judgment was that it needed to be a little more pointed, or emotional, or propagandizing in nature, and they ended up with the ninth draft being published. On the other hand, those who prepared it would have much preferred the seventh draft. It was more matter-of-fact, more factual; on the other hand, it could have been far more defensive and forensic than the draft finally approved.                

            Thursday night I picked up Davis [Bitton] and Maureen Beecher and drove to Provo to hear the [Charles] Redd Lecture of Eugene England. It proved to be the most scary driving I’ve done in several years. Very heavy snowfall and rainfall nearly all the way so that visibility was very poor. I was so nervous when we returned home Thursday night I couldn’t go to sleep for a couple of hours. But we had nice conversation going and coming, and that made it much easier. Moreover, the lecture by Eugene England [[England, “The Dawning of a Brighter Day,” in Alexander and Embry, After 150 Years, 95-146.]] was superb-well worth going for, even under those driving conditions.                               

            Maureen said that the insert on ERA in the March New Era and Ensign was done over a weekend on a hurried-up basis by staff members of the Ensign. Brother [M. Russell] Ballard told them to do it. Presumably he had instructions from Elder [Gordon B.] Hinckley. Lavina Fielding Anderson was not involved. Presumably it was Jay Todd, Janet Brigham, [[Janet Brigham (1950-), assistant editor at the Ensign, had degrees in journalism and communications from BYU. She would go back to BYU to study psychology and earn a PhD in 1988. In 2014 she became Senior Research Scientist at a private research facility in Eugene.]] and one or two others. Maureen emphasized the hurried nature of it.                  

            I asked Maureen on a confidential basis how she felt personally on the issue of ERA. She of course defends the Church in a public capacity and tries to put the best face on the Church posture, but as for her private opinion, Maureen said she thought it would be helpful for ERA to pass. It is a symbolic thing to a large number of “angry women,” including a few angry LDS women. Maureen said that things have now developed to the point that it will not make any difference legally whether or not ERA passes. What would be accomplished by ERA has already been accomplished in other ways. What would represent a problem for ERA will be a problem anyway. So Maureen thinks it will not make any difference one way or the other to the status of women that it would be a psychological matter to help quiet the vociferous minority. (8)                                                                                                                                            

  • Mar 10, 1980-Monday: [Leonard Arrington] I asked Maureen [Beecher] this afternoon if she was aware that Sonia Johnson had met with Elder [Gordon B.] Hinckley when she was here a couple of weeks ago. Maureen said yes, and said that she had been filled in on that meeting. Here is the way she described it. One of the NBC [TV] people had asked Elder Hinckley why he wasn’t willing to meet with Sonia Johnson. He said, We’d be delighted to meet with her. That word was passed on to Sonia by the NBC person and so when she came she wanted to take Elder Hinckley up on the offer. She worked through Jan Tyler, and Jan was able to get things so that a meeting could be held. Present in the meeting were Elder Hinckley and Elder [Neal A.] Maxwell, and Jan and Sonia. Maureen understands that Jan had very little to say and that Elder Maxwell had very little to say. It was essentially a confrontation between Elder Hinckley and Sonia. Sonia had insisted with Jan that they refer to them as Gordon and Neal rather than as Elder Hinckley and Elder Maxwell, and that they be called Jan and Sonia instead of Sister Tyler and Sister Johnson. Sonia had prepared a list of six things to bring up with them, but the confrontation was so intense and so unfriendly that she didn’t get more than two covered. Just which two we’re not aware, nor what the six were. Elder Hinckley in his part had insisted that he would grant the interview only on condition that the subjects discussed not be made available to the press. But of course there was nothing wrong with them telling their friends, which is how we have the account of it. Jan reported that Elder Hinckley was not in the mood to listen. He took it as his task to “give counsel.” Sonia for her part was not seeking counsel but trying to persuade Elder Hinckley and Elder Maxwell to give consideration to various points. It was, as stated above, a confrontation and not a friendly exchange. He was not sympathetic with Sonia’s concerns or the problems of women, and for her part Sonia was not in a mood to tearfully express repentance. Jan said it was the most excruciating experience she had ever had in her life. She thought absolutely nothing in terms of policy would come as the result of the meeting. It was excruciating to Jan partly because of the cruel way that Elder Hinckley treated Sonia, and partly because of his complete unwillingness to listen to the expression of problems and concerns and frustrations. (8)                                                    


  • Jun 28, 1980: Sonia Johnson’s appeal to President Spencer W. Kimball to overturn her Dec 5th excommunication is denied. Johnson charging that she was not invited to the high council court to defend herself and that her bishop, Jeffrey Willis, divulged testimony from the bishop’s court to Beverly Campbell of McLean, Virginia, who has been traveling the country for the Church defending its position on Sonia’s excommunication and the ERA.. Church officials did not give Mrs. Johnson a copy of the letter from the First Presidency denying the appeal but read parts of it to her.
  • During 1980s; Despite the popularity of Governor Rampton, and the emergence of new figures in the party, Utah Democrats suffered during the 1970s and 1980s because of splits over such issues as the Equal Rights Amendment and the stands taken by the national Democratic party which seemed far too liberal for many Utah Democrats. Additionally, the national Democratic party, in the face of strong Republican activity, had largely written off Utah as a potential area of support for presidential campaigns. (12)              
    Mormons for ERA via studsterkel media


  • During 1980: The Ensign published the article “The Church and the Proposed Equal Rights Amendment: A Moral Issue” outlining the church’s arguments against the Equal Rights Amendment. These included the possibility it could give “constitutional protection to immoral same-sex-lesbian and homosexual-marriages”, thus, “giving legal sanction to the rearing of children” in a “homosexual home”. [[“The Church and the Proposed Equal Rights Amendment: A Moral Issue”. Ensign. March 1980. Retrieved 16 November 2016.]] (9)                                


  • During January 1981: In January 1981 a Nevada legislature in which Mormons figured prominently rejected the ERA thirty seconds after it was introduced. (1)
  • 1981: Sonia published her book and begins attending a Unitarian church with her children. She still claimed ties to Mormonism, but the majority of Mormons rejected her for what they saw as increasingly radical behavior. There was little accounting for the causes that radicalized her and very little sympathy for Sonia. This seemed to alienate her more.
  • Apr 2, 1981-Thursday: 

    [Leonard J. Arrington] … We noted the change in the sustaining of officers in which they sustained the new Seventy, Elder Abrea, and then simply asked us to sustain all other general authorities as previously constituted. That was a surprise. After Elder [Marion G.] Romney put that motion to the group, there was a delayed “No” shouted by one or two or three women in the rear, with something else being said like “No-because they are against ERA [Equal Rights Amendment].” Elder Romney either did not hear this or deliberately chose to ignore it. No attention was paid to it nor did the television switch to that part of the tabernacle nor was any mention made of it in the Conference news story in the Deseret News.                                                                                 

            The News story did carry information about the fifty or sixty women who marched from the State Capitol to Temple Square and marched once around the grounds. They carried placards “Down with the Church That Opposes ERA.” The TV news also had a shot of the airplane carrying a banner over the center of Salt Lake City with some inscription like “Mormons for ERA.” There were no altercations in connection with the picketing. People seemed to be astonished or oblivious or with the attitude “Here we go again.” (13)          


  • Jul 24, 1981: Representatives of the National Organization of Women march in Salt Lake City’s Pioneer Day parade as part of their “mission” to Utah in support of the Equal Rights Amendment. the Los Angeles Times reports that “some spectators heckled, threw fruit and spat on ERA missionaries.” (2)

  • Jun 6, 1982: Women protesting the Mormon Church policy against ERA and their work against it chain themselves to an LDS meeting house in San Diego, CA.
  •  Jun 10, 1982: Despite an extension of time until 10 June 1982, proponents of ERA could not achieve the necessary thirty-eight state ratifications. National polls consistently showed the majority of Americans in favor of the amendment. However, opponents — who ranged from the John Birch Society and Phyllis Shafley’s STOP ERA, to conservatives throughout the political spectrum of Protestant-Catholic-Mormon-Jews — combined successfully to defeat the amendment. (1)
  • Jun 30, 1982: The Equal Rights Amendment is defeated. As of 1996 no church publication acknowledges the Mormon role in its defeat. (2)
  • During 1982: NOW (National Organizations for Women) sent teams of missionaries to Utah for the summer of 198l to knock on doors of Mormons asking them to support the ERA. (1)
  • During 1984: In 1984 the Citizen’s party nominated Sonia Johnson, a native of Logan, who gained public attention for her support of the Equal Rights Amendment and her subsequent excommunication from the LDS Church. Two other Utahns, Lawrence Topham and Earl Jeppson, were unsuccessful candidates on separate occasions for the American party nomination. (19)
  • Apr 27, 1991: A Church News feature article about Pulitzer Prize winner Laurel Thatcher Ulrich. However, BYU’s administration cancels the invitation for her to speak on campus due to her support of the Equal Rights Amendment and other feminist causes twenty years ago. (2)
  • Feb 19, 1994: The First Presidency issues a statement encouraging church members to actively work against the legalization of same-gender marriages. This inaugurates a national campaign, similar to the centrally directed anti-ERA activities. (2)
  • Aug 30, 2008: mormonsfor8.com goes up connecting donor names to LDS membership. Mormons accounted for not quite 2% of California’s population, yet are credited with raising more than half of the $32+ million donations to protect marriage. Similar to the “grass roots” response to Virginia’s battle over extending the ratification deadline for the ERA: Mormons made up 0.5% of the state’s population, yet accounted for 85% of the anti-ERA letters to state legislators. (20)
  • Sept 2012: Mormon Feminist Chelsea Shields speaks in Washington DC to promote the ERA. Other Mormon women including Maggie Olson Stack, Kate Kelly and Aimee Evans Hickman attend the rally as well.

  • 2016: Mormon Feminists  and board members of Mormons for ERA, Kate Kelly and Mark Barnes go on public radio in Utah to discuss the history of the ERA and ask for it to be considered again. (29)
  • 2016: [Kelly Whited Jones] “…mention the efforts of the Utah ERA Coalition, of which UWU, Fair Utah, League of Women Voters, NAWBO, American Association of University Women, Women’s State Legislative Council, Equality Utah, The Policy Project, UCAN, YWCA, Women Lawyers of Utah and many others, are partnering and working this year for ratification. Here’s my take on UWU… Utah Women Unite was a huge catalyst in this effort. I was at an inaugural brunch meeting at Joanna Smith’s home and I have never seen anything so inspiring as women walking up to a massive board and adding their names — volunteering for 30+ positions from Education to Policy, to Outreach, Events, and particularly for the ERA. Joanna Smith, Kate Kelly, and Chelsea Shields got this group going, Mark Barnes was a great legal ally, and so many others were part of the early efforts (I will forget some names, so feel free to add in…) Rebecca Cengiz-Robbins, Chelsea Shields, Noor Hassan, Sarajane Fife, Hillary McDaniel, Elinda McKenna, Psarah Johnson, Ma Black, Kathryn-Jones-Porter, Lavinia Taumoepeau-Latu, Dawn Nunn, Genevra Prothero, Catherine Arik, Kat Kellermeyer, Kat Martinez, Chelsea Robarge-Fife, Julia Murphy, Nicole Maestas, Chelsi Barnard, Jordan Strumph, Donna Kelly, Kalyn Denny, and so many others joined in to make a difference. Many of you joined in this effort over the last few years as well — bringing friends with you. UWU organized the largest women’s March in Utah Herstory. We hosted Equal Means Equal showings at libraries and front rooms. We attended hearings to support women’s issues, and spent International Day of the Woman, unwilling to be ignored, in our legislators offices. We wrote emails, texted daily action items, hosted card parties, put together publications, buttons, banners, did educational outreach to our growing membership, showed up, and fought hard to get ERA back into the legislature. We convinced Sen. Dabakis to introduce the ERA two years in a row – though the issue didn’t make it out of rules committee either year. We put together an ERA March and Craftivism Event for St. Patrick’s Day and marched next to a yarn-covered Volkswagen Bug in the parade, singing “Hey ho, Ho Hey, Ratify the ERA.” Members of our group consulted with lawmakers last year as well, helping with education, legalities, wording, etc on HJR 21, proposed by Rep. Karen Kwan (D) and Sen. Vickers (R). We were honored to consult on this first-step legislation. The group has evolved and changed over time, we made mistakes, learned, struggled, made great friends, made history, made noise, and never stopped dreaming that this could happen — in Utah. Our Coalition efforts today are due in large part to these early efforts — women who stood up and spoke up, and are still doing so. That’s my recollection, based on my involvement, and all the while we know that we stand on the shoulders of so many other Utah women, men, and Women’s Groups who have been fighting much, much longer.

    It would be a huge omission to leave out the efforts of The Utah ERA Coalition. In six short months, this coalition has forged relationships and worked to get the latest bill with Karen Kwan. Our executive committee includes Amy Rich, Robin Hough, Emily Bell McCormick, Christine Clark, myself, Charlotte Richter, Judy Thimakis, Susan Radtke, Mindy Young, Christine Cardamon, Teri Jewell, — all working tirelessly this year to get this done. I believe our efforts have forced the LDS Church to speak out, when they stayed silent the last three years. I believe it’s because they realize it could find purchase and is likely to happen — if not here, in Virginia. To speak now means they get to retain their moral “high ground,” but what a missed opportunity for meaningful change.” (32)

Steve Griffin | The Salt Lake Tribune Sen. Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Lake City, reintroduces resolution to ratify the Equal Rights Amendments during a press conference at the State Capitol in Salt Lake City Monday February 6, 2017. (via Salt Lake Tribune)
  • 2017: Ordain Women founder Kate Kelly convinced Senator Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Lake City, to reintroduce and revive efforts to ratify the proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. (30)
  • 2017: Arizona ERA task force is organized with Mormon women. Here they are pictured wearing ERA NOW shirts designed by a Mormon Feminist company, Fourth Wave.
(L-R)Paula Cullison,Akanksha Mishra, Kathryn Mitchell, Rivko Knox, Dianne Post, Anne Pyron, Rebecca McHood, Anissa Hendrix Rasheta, Meg Hendrix
  • October 2018: Kate Kelly publishes an article in Teen Vogue making the case for the ERA. (31)
  •  February 2019:   LDS church spokesperson Eric Hawkins declined to comment when asked about the church’s official position of the ERA. Mormons for ERA activist Sara Vranes said, ““We’ll take no news as good news… …Maybe they don’t feel like the ERA is a threat anymore.”  (22)
Mormon Feminists Rebecca McHood and Kate Kelly meet in DC for the House Judiciary Committee meeting to drop the deadline in April 2019. (Also pictured is actress Alyssa Milano) via: https://twitter.com/mormonsforera/status/1123234478153818112
  • August 2019: Mormon Feminist and founder of Ordain Women, Kate Kelly publishes an oped in the Salt Lake Tribune. She argues, “The ERA is just another way of stating the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” We can amend the U.S. Constitution to match Utah’s own and affirm gender equality as an American value once and for all. Let’s beat out the other states, make Utah the 38th and final ratification needed, and again take our place on the right side of history.” (28)
  • Aug 14, 2019: Anissa Rasheta of Mormons For ERA goes on the Salt Lake Tribune’s, Mormon Land podcast to discuss new efforts to ratify the ERA. (23)
  • Image result for era and mormons
    Anissa Rasheta advocates as part of Mormons for ERA in Arizona. Photo Credit: Salt Lake Tribune: https://www.sltrib.com/resizer/PQMw7BH27rX2tZHCBwvWwMYEiYo=/0x600/smart/filters:quality(86)/arc-anglerfish-arc2-prod-sltrib.s3.amazonaws.com/public/HF3DFYFFU5EVDLAL3UJTIRBK4E.jpg


  • December 2019: LDS church-owned newspaper publishes and editorial entitled: In our opinion: Why Utah should not pass the current version of the Equal Rights Amendment, with the byline of: The Beehive State must continue to rally for equality and genuine women’s rights.The editorial argues that, “…there are far-reaching unintended consequences that could ultimately harm women. It could, for example, change family law — including child custody rights in divorce — impact abortion law and potentially draft women into military service during times of war.The second is a procedural problem for a proposed amendment that was not ratified when it was introduced in the 1970s. Serious doubt remains whether the expired amendment can be picked up more than 40 years later and whether recent state votes in favor of it, in addition to the states that have since rescinded their votes, are valid.” (25)                                                                                               
  • December 3, 2019: LDS church spokesperson Doug Andersen says, “The church’s position on this issue has been consistent for more than 40 years.” (24)
  • December 4, 2019: Mormon feminist Michelle Quist publishes an editorial in the Salt Lake Tribune titled, Michelle Quist: LDS Church and its newspaper dredge up tired old arguments against the ERA.   Quist counters arguments in the Deseret News editorial by arguing that, The Equality Act is legislation pending before Congress that would replace the word “sex” in federal legislation with “sex (including sexual orientation and gender identity).”

First, the Equality Act is independent from the ERA, and if it passes, it will do so with or without the ERA. Second, the current battle over the definition of the word sex and whether it includes sexual orientation and gender identity is already happening at the Supreme Court level. The Court will decide the issue; the ERA has nothing to do with it.”


  1. Utah History Encyclopedia: Equal Rights Amemdment, http://www.uen.org/utah_history_encyclopedia/       (via Clair Barrus)
  2.  Mormon Hierarchy – Extensions of Power by D. Michael Quinn, [New Mormon History database ( http://bit.ly/NMHdatabase )]   (via Clair Barrus)
  3. Utah History Encyclopedia: Utah Republican Party, http://www.uen.org/utah_history_encyclopedia/ (via Clair Barrus)
  4.  See the history of the CTR shield here: http://www.ldsliving.com/Where-Did-the-CTR-Ring-Come-From/s/72974?fbclid=IwAR08Gims8Jt_6XJcD-, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Choose_the_right?fbclid=IwAR3lueoeGHdBICIkFeL6BFxXd9Crwr96KzEq2wr1MRa-glPxciIOhAey91w#CTR_ringS_QRCAnMwO9buuhRxO1zHkT6z9UiZ0617ba5YAT_U, and FROM HOUSEWIVES TO PROTESTERS: THE STORY OF MORMONS FOR THE
    EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT,  Kelli N. Morrill, Utah State University, 2018. https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=8163&context=etd&fbclid=IwAR3QgsgeS0Z-6d0E5DS8QPdhc7qYyqAyRaTGXxRhqoYO-EMXC6orf0aW_rM (via Joanna Smith)
  5. Chronology, in Confessions of a Mormon historian : the diaries of Leonard J. Arrington, 1971-1997, Gary James Bergera, editor, chronology by Joseph Geisner, and Lavina Fielding Anderson    (via Clair Barrus)
  6. Confessions of a Mormon historian : the diaries of Leonard J. Arrington, 1971-1997, Gary James Bergera, editor, Signature Books, 2018 (via Clair Barrus)
  7. “The ERA Is a Moral Issue”: The Mormon Church, LDS Women, and the Defeat of the Equal Rights Amendment, Neil J. Young, American Quarterly, 2007, https://muse.jhu.edu/article/221668
  8. Relief Society General President Opposes ERA, Barbara Smith, February 1974. https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/1975/02/news-of-the-church/relief-society-general-president-opposes-era?lang=eng&fbclid=IwAR28SJpG8vVWysw4xgl71bEIlc6SxuKqfnpImkWokB3AnaHGtqYuCCYnqfk
  9.  Chronology of Mormon History, http://followtheprophets.com/chronology-of-mormon-history/ (via Clair Barrus)
  10. Mormon Women’s History Timeline, http://www1.chapman.edu/~remy/MoFem/mormonwomen.html (via Clair Barrus)
  11. Mormonism and the Equal Rights Amendment, O. KENDALL WHITE, JR. Journal of Church and State, Vol. 31, No. 2 (SPRING 1989), pp. 249-267, https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/23916795
  12. The Equal Rights Amendment, by Elder Boyd K. Packer, of the Council of the Twelve, March 1977, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/1977/03/the-equal-rights-amendment?lang=eng&fbclid=IwAR0ICAk2yXPKYYnWApCtyiy0Kn6UanDfhbBDCU_A3P2XSd0PMASEE96Daek
  13. Mormons For ERA, Utah State University, http://exhibits.usu.edu/exhibits/show/mormonsforera/conclusion?fbclid=IwAR1PSeeex1_HvMVq8GpLf9WRjPKidnc0EGV5L-nwDoA95PmPiWIjEE0Zq8Y
  14. Church Politics and Sonia Johnson: A Central Conundrum, Linda Sillitoe, February 1980, https://www.sunstonemagazine.com/pdf/019-35-43.pdf?fbclid=IwAR2YzM7dM8JB6rGzI1BKUAq9dr_wbFkuIv44-2kE_VvuDeuByrIqh7smFLM
  15. Wikipedia, “Homosexuality and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” “Timeline of publications and speeches,” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homosexuality_and_The_Church_of_Jesus_Christ_of_Latter-day_Saints#Timeline_of_important_publications_and_speeches  (via Clair Barrus)
  16. Chronology of the Equal Rights Amendment, 1923-1996, https://now.org/resource/chronology-of-the-equal-rights-amendment-1923-1996/?fbclid=IwAR2wbRKAko96hPRlIAlJDTnRl_yFG87JwFUq2QMarYA9YnTmE05vAsA3Oi0
  17. On This Day in Mormon History, http://onthisdayinmormonhistory.blogspot.com (via Clair Barrus)
  18. Anderson, Lavina Fielding, “The LDS Intellectual Community and Church Leadership: A Contemporary Chronology,” Dialogue, Vol.26, No.1 (via Clair Barrus)
  19. Utah History Encyclopedia: Third Parties in Utah, http://www.uen.org/utah_history_encyclopedia/     
  20. Mormons for Marriage: A Prop 8 Timeline, http://mormonsformarriage.com/?page_id=68  (via Clair Barrus)
  21. Donahue transcript. February 18, 1980. WGN-TV, Chicago, Ill. Appearances. Mr. Phil Donahue, Ms. Barbara Smith, Ms. Beverly Campbell. https://www.worldcat.org/title/donahue-transcript-february-18-1980-wgn-tv-chicago-ill-appearances-mr-phil-donahue-ms-barbara-smith-ms-beverly-campbell/oclc/367503990
  22. From no to neutral? LDS Church may have changed its stance on the Equal Rights Amendment, Kathy Stephenson, Salt Lake Tribune, February 15, 2019. https://www.sltrib.com/religion/2019/02/15/where-does-lds-church/
  23. ‘Mormon Land’: The ERA is back and female members are pushing for it, with their church no longer fighting against it, Salt Lake Tribune, August 14, 2019. https://www.sltrib.com/religion/2019/08/14/mormon-land-era-is-back/
  24. LDS Church announces it still opposes Equal Rights Amendment as supporters rally at Capitol, Becky Jacobs, Salt Lake Tribune, December 3, 2019. https://www.sltrib.com/news/2019/12/03/lds-church-announces-it/
  25. In our opinion: Why Utah should not pass the current version of the Equal Rights Amendment, The Deseret News Editorial Board, December 2, 2019, https://www.deseret.com/opinion/2019/12/2/20992355/equal-rights-amendment-era-womens-rights
  26. Michelle Quist: LDS Church and its newspaper dredge up tired old arguments against the ERA, Michelle Quist, Salt Lake Tribune, December 4, 2019. https://www.sltrib.com/opinion/commentary/2019/12/04/michelle-quist-lds-church/
  27. Keepitching.org (via Ardis Parshall)
  28. Kate Kelly: Utah, let’s ratify the ERA, Kate Kelly, Salt Lake Tribune, August 2018. https://www.sltrib.com/opinion/commentary/2019/08/26/kate-kelly-utah-lets/?fbclid=IwAR3s4tbQtDPSXZsfseB_jOO3pkD_-Q0kzUWqh7XyuBBXM8MxfTTJVXsavu8
  29. https://www.upr.org/post/when-equal-rights-amendment-came-utah?fbclid=IwAR0e584N0MDpqvBB97VrcR0qW4EoelM173BtZs8q7Fia7uYnaSwS81vHoqU
  30. Flashback to the ’70s: ERA again pushed in Utah Legislature, Lee Davidson, Salt Lake Tribune, February 7, 2017. https://archive.sltrib.com/article.php?id=4907036&itype=CMSID&fbclid=IwAR3SOXN72i9yr4GbBUCb7oxF8kFYJ93CbySKtBoO8oJ2mHc9dKRt9c5s0t4
  31. Why the United States Constitution Needs An Equal Rights Amendment
    The ERA represents the unfinished business of the previous waves of feminism, by Kate Kelly, October 29,2018. https://www.teenvogue.com/story/the-united-states-constitution-needs-an-equal-rights-amendment?fbclid=IwAR1VL9bATayQfttHlgcly4la5xFEQMWweEdYhmV7Uqpc-M7u9h7BvDcUx8g
  32. (2019, December 12). Private facebook message between Kelly Whited Jones and Lindsay Hansen Park. [Facebook private message]. Share with permission. (via Kelly Whited Jones)

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