Conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly died this week. Her life and legacy have heavily influenced politics and social issues in Utah.
Schlafly’s fierce opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment resulted in her founding the Eagle Forum, a national conservative group which advocates for traditional family values.
Gayle Ruzicka is president of the Utah Eagle Forum. She spent more than 30 years working with Schlafly to promote conservative issues. Ruzicka says Schlafly had been a dear friend and mentor to her since before she became president of the Utah Eagle Forum in 1991.
“She was an amazing woman and I will miss her like my own mother,” Ruzicka says. “She is truly family and it was an absolute privilege to have her be part of my life.”
Ruzicka says she will continue to lead the Utah chapter of the Eagle Forum in representing pro-life and traditional family values, “and we will in fact become stronger as we uphold her legacy and make sure we do things the way she would have them done.”
Schlafly was also known for advocating that women be homemakers while men worked to provide financially for the family.
“It’s a shame,” says Susie Porter, director of the Gender Studies Program at the University of Utah, “that people twist the idea of women’s right to remain at home as somehow counter or not in the same universe as also protecting women’s rights within the workforce. It’s a false dichotomy.”
Porter says Schlafly will always be an important historical figure who came out of a time when women’s roles in the home and workforce were shifting.
“Instead of seeing Schlafly on one side and feminists on the other side, it’s important to understand what Schlafly was defending—what she believed was best for women and families,” says Porter.
Phyllis Schlafly died on Monday after battling cancer. She was 92 years old.