cause. As an Interior Department memo put it; “This is notnto be considered a partisan issue,” but part of an antidiscriminationneffort “which Federal employers are nownobliged to support.” During the climactic year of 1978,nPresident Carter himself traveled with his wife to Illinois,nSchlafly’s home state, in the week before the schedulednvote, to implore the state legislature to pass the Amendment.nBut for the 13th straight time, the legislature refused.nBy the official deadline for ratificahon in 1979, the tallynrevealed a net loss of one state since Schlafly’s effort begannto gain momentum in 1977.nBut the proponents would not give up. In a blatantlynillegal action, in defiance of the Constitution and thenpowers of the states. Congress extended the ratificationnperiod by an additional 39 months and prohibited allnrescisions during that time. In November 1979, before thenCongressional vote, 36 women’s magazines from Ms. to thenLadies Home Journal—with a combined circulahon of 60nmillion and varying views on almost everything—chimednin lockstep with articles for ERA. Then the Carter Administrationnlavished yet more money and mobilized the Federalngovernment anew in yet another massive drive for passage.nBut once again the opposition held firm; by the end of thenextension no further states had passed the Amendment andnit was at last allowed to die.nBy this hme, the mood was beginning to turn. In 1980 anRepublican platform, for the first time, actually came outnagainst the Amendment, despite a frenzy of protest. ThenRepublican candidate Ronald Reagan continued to opposenit. But Reagan was never a leader in stopping ERA. Even innradio messages criticizing the proposed law, he would spendnmost of his time asserting his fervent support for “equalnrights.” Then, amazingly, he would turn over the microphonento his daughter Maureen and give her equal time tonspeak in behalf of the Amendment. No national politicalnleader had any substantial impact on the outcome.nThere was only one significant leader of the anti-ERAneffort, and that was enough—for it was Phyllis Schlafly.nShe won, in part, because she is one of the country’s bestnspeakers and debaters and its best pamphleteer since TomnPaine. She won because of her indefatigable energy andnwillpower, mobilizing women in state after state where thenAmendment was contested. But most of all she wonnbecause she understood what was finally at stake in feminism.nShe was defending both the sexual and legal constitutionsnof the United States from their most serious attack ofnthis century.nEssentially, the ERA would have granted to the Federalnbench, long dominated below the Supreme Court level bynthe some 400 liberal appointees of the Carter Administration,nnearly carte blanche to redefine the relations betweennthe sexes in America. Voluminous testimony before SenatornOrrin Hatch’s subcommittee of the Judiciary Committeenshowed that, among many other significant eflFects, thenAmendment would probably have: (1) eliminated all rightsnof wives and mothers to be supported by their husbands,nexcept to the extent husbands could claim an equal right; (2)neliminated all laws in any way restricting the rights of thengay liberation movement publically to teach, proselytize, ornpractice their sexual ideology; (3) forced sexual integrationnof all schools, clubs, colleges, athletic teams, and facilities;n(4) forced the drafting of women and the sexual integrationnof all military units; (5) threatened the tax exemption ofnmost religious schools; and (6) compelled the use ofngovernment funds for abortions.nEven more extreme interpretations are perfectiy possiblenin the courts. Indeed, some skeptics point out that feministsnare now gaining from judges much of what they lost in thenlegislatures, that liberals are now attaining the ERA’s goalsnthrough judicial interpretations of the 14th Amendmentnand through novel extensions of the Civil Rights Act. Thisnis true to a great extent. But the ERA battie was always anstruggle not only to stop a specific law, but also to halt thenmomentum of the sexual revolution. The battie will nevernbe over. But Phyllis Schlafly, though still unique, no longernstands alone. Her example has created a new feminine idealnand a new constituency of the country’s conservativenwomen who know what is actually at stake in the smarmynrhetoric of feminism and should be able to repeat theirnvictories.nThe sexual revolutionaries had the support of “publicnopinion” as registered by the polls and of political opinionnas asserted by politicians. But Schlafly tapped the support ofnprivate opinions: the real personal convictions of the mennand women who voted again and again in referenda and innelections and finally even in legislatures against the sexualnrevolution. As repeated surveys by Stanley Rothman and S.nRobert Lichter have shown, private opinion diverges widelynfrom establishment opinion on every major sexual question,nfrom special gay rights to adultery.nIn this sense, the defeat of the ERA was merely a symbolnof a larger infrastructure of opinion that upholds our familynlife and our democratic processes. ERA was only one ofnmany issues on which deeply ingrained conservative viewsnprevafled in recent years against all the fevered movementsnand fashions of the time.nDespite some public opinion polls and Supreme Courtndecisions to the contrary, voters have repeatedly rejectednliberalization of abortion laws. Except in cases of rape,nincest, or risk to the mother’s life, substantial majoritiesncontinue to oppose abortion. Yet the feminist demand forn”control over our own bodies” seems eminently justifiablento virtually every media authority. The tragic results ofncovert abortion mills, coat-hanger surgery, and Mexicann”vacations” are well-known. Unlike most poll questions,nmoreover, on which most respondents know littie andncould care less about the topic, abortion is a matter onnwhich significant public opinion actually exists, an issue onnwhich people have, relatively strong and considered beliefs.nSince the informed elites have influence far beyond theirnnumbers, the tenacity of public opposition suggests anresistance profound enough to demand explanation.nWhat is it about these so-called social issues—embracingnmatters as varied as gun control, abortion, and busing—nthat leads substantial majorities of voters to violate, andnvote against, the considered views of perhaps 90 percent ofnthe American intelligentsia. The answer is that all thesenissues directiy impinge on that sensitive psychologicalnterrain, involving sexuality, children, and the family,nwhich underlies the sexual constitution of the society.nUnlike many intellectuals whose lives are devoted to legalnand scientific abstraction, most of the people still instinc-nnnJUN£ 1986111n