Linda Savey of Arlington stood with about 1,000 demonstrators on the Virginia state capitol grounds today and ticked off on her fingers -- and her palms -- the reasons why she is against passage of the Equal Rights Amendment.
She had her arguments written in blue ink all over her hands.
"America has and can do well without the ERA," said Saxey, reading from a smudged message on her right palm.
A Mormon, the mother of two and a former teacher, Saxey next consulted her five fingers for the points she wanted to make to back up this central theme.
"I can make a speech on each finger," she boasted.
Having left her medical student husband at home to baby-sit, Saxey had journeyed to Richmond for an anti-ERA rally aimed at urging the General Assembly to kill the controversial constitutional amendment banning sex discrimination.
Since the legislature has done just that for the past seven years, the women, men and children who gathered here today found themselves asking the lawmakers to "keep up the good work."
"The push for the ERA comes from national forces and not from Virginia," said Geline Williams, a member of the Virginia Steering Committee to Stop the ERA. She and other speakers complained that the estimated 5,000 to 8,000 pro-ERA marchers who converged on the State Capitol last Sunday were "outsiders" from New York, Massachusetts and other liberal states.
"They weren't the REAL Virginians," said Del. Clinton Miller (R-Shenandoah), one of 12 ERA opponents on the House committee that repeatedly has killed the measure.
The demonstrators carried signs and balloons and gathered around a red flat-bed truck that was used as a stage. It was parked outside the office of Lt. Gov. Charles S. Robb, who supports passage of the amendment.
Fundamentalist minister Jerry Falwell of Lynchburg was not there, but his Liberty Baptist College band was on hand. Its members were among several student groups who had the day off from school in order to attend the event.
"Women shouldn't be controlled by men," argued Brian Farnham, a seventh-grader from Bethlehem Baptist Christian Academy in Fairfax. "Our teachers say the ERA is wrong."
Farnham said the school's entire seventh through 12th grade classes had been bused in for the rally.
State Sen. Eva Scott (R-Amelia), a longtime ERA foe who this year became the first woman ever elected to the Virginia Senate, warned that passage of the ERA would subject women to possible combat duty and threaten the stability of the family.
"This amendment offers no benefit for women," she said.
After the rally, those in the crowd were urged to keep the anti-ERA pressure on by visiting and writing their state legislators.
Nationally, the Equal Rights Amendment is three states shy of the 38 states it needs to ratify the measure before it becomes law.