Phyllis Schlafly, a longtime conservative activist best known for her work in defeating the Equal Rights Amendment in the ’70s, died Monday afternoon. She was 92.
The organization she founded, Eagle Forum, said in a statement on its website that she died surrounded by her family in her St. Louis home.
Schlafly first rose to prominence with the release of her novel, “A Choice, Not an Echo,” in 1964. The book, which chronicled the history of the Republican National Convention, would go on to sell three million copies and become an oft-quoted text for those on the far right. It was distributed heavily in support of Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater’s GOP presidential campaign, and is credited for helping him land the nomination.
Schlafly was politically active for decades after releasing her book, fighting against the Equal Rights Amendment that would have outlawed gender discrimination, calling the movement STOP ERA. STOP ERA transformed into Eagle Forum, the ultra-conservative organization still running with 80,000 members over several states.
One of her main arguments against the ERA — along with her beliefs that it would lead to gay marriage, and make it more difficult for women to obtain custody in divorce cases — was that it eliminated the men-only draft requirement, and feared it would lead to women joining combat. Her protests used symbols of the stereotypical American housewife, such as homemade bread and jams.
Schlafly, however, was hardly the stay-at-home mom she held as an ideal, as her critics often pointed out. She worked overnight through college during World War II, obtaining a Master’s degree in government from Radcliffe, as well as a J.D. from Washington University Law School. She attended every RNC since her first in 1952, and had two unsuccessful bids for Congress.
Her organization Eagle Forum, founded in St. Louis, says on its website that it opposes “the feminist goals of stereotyping men as a constant danger to women,” and that it “exposes the radical feminists.” Among its principles are strong border security, lower taxes and supporting “establishing English as our official language.”
In her later life, Schlafly voiced her support for GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump. “Our greatest presidents have all been men and they’ve been very good for our country,” she said.
In a statement on her death, Trump said, “Phyllis Schlafly is a conservative icon who led millions to action, reshaped the conservative movement, and fearlessly battled globalism and the ‘kingmakers’ on behalf of America’s workers and families. I was honored to spend time with her during this campaign as she waged one more great battle for national sovereignty. I was able to speak with her by phone only a few weeks ago, and she sounded as resilient as ever. Our deepest prayers go out to her family and all her loved ones. She was a patriot, a champion for women, and a symbol of strength. She fought every day right to the end for America First. Her legacy will live on in the movement she led and the millions she inspired.”
Schlafly’s husband, Fred, died in 1993. She is survived by six children, along with 16 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.