This one is lucky. To those new to One People’s Project, normally when a person who had such little regard for human life as Phyllis Schlafly dies, we pay “tribute” to them with a heartfelt “Rot in Hell!” The ONLY reason why we won’t do that this time is because a lot of you are hearing about us for the first time over the past week and a half, and we think we need to let you get to know us a little more before we hit you over the head with how nasty we can be with these people. But we assure you, we are going to miss Schlafly just about as much as we miss scurvy.
The most positive thing one could say about Phyllis Schlafly is that she lived long enough to see much of what she fought against happen anyway.
Indeed, the reason why Schlafly, who died on Labor Day at the age of 92 in St. Louis, opposed the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) in the 1970s was because she believed that it would open the door to gay marriage, abortion, the military draft for women, co-ed bathrooms and the end of labor laws that barred women from dangerous workplaces.
Her efforts were successful in keeping the Amendment from being ratified when in 1982 15 states rejected it and five other states rescinded their ratifications, causing it to fall three states short of passage. She went on to become a standard bearer for far right politics in the name of traditional values through the Eagle Forum, the organization she founded in 1972. Schlafly has remained in the public eye well up to the day of her passing, appearing at the Conservative Political Action Conference in recent years.
Her legacy is even more nefarious than even her “Stop ERA” efforts, however. Schlafly was a long time opponent of civil rights and was an associate of well-known White Supremacist groups such as Willis Carto’s anti-Semitic Liberty Lobby and the Council of Conservative Citizens (C of CC). Schlafly has written several columns that appeared in the Citizen Informer, the C of CC’s publication, and in 1991 the Eagle Forum gave their “Eagle Awards” to St. Louis school board members Thomas S. Bugel and Shirley Walters Kiel, both members of the C of CC. She was an opponent of the Civil Right Movement of the 1960s, regularly attacking civil right leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Roy Wilkins in articles and books at the time, and later in life her Eagle Forum would go on to call for the ban of Muslims from the military, government jobs, and running for office. One of her last columns was a diatribe against President Obama and a call for immigrants to be required to speak English, her response to the news that relief agencies responding to the recent flooding in Baton Rouge, Louisiana were warned not to discriminate against recent immigrants, particularly those who could not speak English. Not surprisingly, she was a supporter of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, an endorsement that earlier this year resulted in an attempt by Eagle Forum board members, including her own daughter, to stage a coup and oust her.
Born on August 15, 1924, Schlafly seemed to herself run afoul of the patriarchy she fought so hard to maintain for others. Raised in a Depression-era family where her mother was the family breadwinner because her father couldn’t find work. Schlafly went to college, eventually obtaining a Master’s Degree in 1945 and a law degree in 1978. She even ran for Congress, losing both times. She went on to write or edit 20 books, publish a monthly newsletter, The Phyllis Schlafly Report, write a syndicated newspaper column, and anchor a radio talk show. She also was a regular lecturer on college campuses.
Schlafly managed to raise a family of six children, one of whom, her son John, eventually coming out as gay after he was reportedly outed by the now-defunct Queer World magazine. Schlafly theorized that the outing was actually an attack on her because of her anti-abortion stances, saying, the story “shows the political alliance between the pro-choice movement and gays.” While her relationship with her oldest son remained intact, with John still working at the anti-gay Eagle Forum to this day and even defending the intentions of his mother and her supporters, that of her daughter Anne Cori is unclear after the attempted coup at the Eagle Forum, and Schlafly recently lost a court battle with her nephew Tom over the name of his product, Schlafly Beer. Fred Schlafly, her husband of 44 years, died in 1993.
In an article titled “The Sad Last Days of Homo-Hate Queen Phyllis Schlafly”, published last month by the LGBT magazine the Advocate, it was noted that while Schlafly spent much of her life championing the conservative position of social issues to the point of making them the center of Republican Party politics, it may also prove to be the undoing of that party in a time when society has moved beyond them. “Schlafly takes great pride in the fact that she pushed the Republican Party to enshrine pro-life tenets and other conservative causes in its platform of the 1980s, though some would argue that hyper-focusing on social issues — as well as nominating Trump — may lead to the Grand Old Party’s demise,” the article read.
Schlafly’s death comes in an election year that may see the first woman elected to be President of the United States – something that Schlafly opposed even for women in her own party.