There’s been a lot of talk in ERA circles about whether or not State Rep. Greg Leding is fully committed to the Equal Rights Amendment after campaigning for it in ’10.  It’s also been said that Leding, at one point, stated that “The ERA needs time to breathe.”  I have no idea whether that’s true or not.

Here’s what I do know though.

As far as his voting record, progressives have never had any problems out of Greg Leding.  Off the top of my head, I can’t think of a bad vote that he cast.  In many ways he was a progressive leader in the last session, tackling wage theft with Wal-Mart, the wage robbers in chief, based just one county over.  He’s owed some serious props for that.  And I do not think for a minute that if the ERA comes up for a vote that Leding would vote against it.

However, that’s not to say there isn’t room for improvement…

It was inexcusable that not a single Democrat stepped up last year for the ERA.  They were all so scared to death after the tea party wave in 2010 that they refused to take any action on it, thinking that not doing so would somehow improve their chances at keeping their majorities in the legislature.  A lot of folks expected Leding to lead on the issue, especially after he campaigned on being an ERA supporter in the Democratic primary against a far more conservative Democrat and since he held the seat of Lindsley Smith, a progressive leader who pushed the ERA in the past.  Bygones could be bygones of course, but ERA advocates have been pushing hard to get Democrats across the state on record in support of the ERA.  There was a HUGE rally in Fayetteville in support of the issue and according to the organizers of the event someone from Leding’s circle asked about getting him a chance to speak but backed off when it was made clear that Leding would have to sign the ERA pledge to do so.  Apparently, Leding has a no pledge pledge.  Several Democrats seem to be taking that route, and some of them I guess are making the argument that it will serve as a contrast with the Republicans signing the irresponsible Norquist pledge and being beholden to him.  Yeah, that’s a load of crap.  While I’m all for avoiding gotcha’ surveys like the Family Council’s and stuff like that, dodging surveys and pledges, especially those that should be no brainers like supporting equal rights for women, just makes you look spineless and like you have something to hide.  I have no sympathy for Democrats that go that route when they inevitably get burned.  People have a right to know where their public servants stand, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with them demanding that promise in writing politicians being as they so often are.

Now again, I don’t think for a moment that Leding would ever vote against the ERA.  Leveling that criticism at Leding is unfair to someone who has such a solid progressive record.  Saying he hasn’t been a leader on the ERA though?  That’s pretty fair, especially when Washington County has all kinds of great Democrats who have stepped up and signed the ERA pledge-David Whitaker, Uvalde Lindsey, Diana Gonzales Worthen, Yssie Hernandez, etc.  Three of those Democrats are in tough races (Lindsey doesn’t have an opponent) and could use some help.  Leding’s seat is safe, being one of the most liberal in the state, and really I don’t think he’s going to need any real help to hold it.  That’s a big reason why Leding’s name missing from the ERA pledges looks so bad-he’s surrounded by folks with more at risk than him who are sticking their necks out for women while he doesn’t.  It’s folks like Whitaker and Worthen that need the help and that’s where those of us looking for leadership on the ERA should invest our efforts and our money.  In the next session, we will be looking to them for leadership, and in fairness to Gred Leding I’m 100% confident that he will gladly follow.