Phyllis Schlafly, a prominent anti-feminist and early leader of the social conservative movement, died Monday at the age of 92 at her home in St. Louis.
Schlafly, an outspoken voice against the liberalism of the 1960's and 1970's, was a towering figure in what emerged as the modern religious right. Her death was confirmed by the Eagle Forum, the Missouri-based advocacy organization she led.
"Her focus from her earliest days until her final ones was protecting the family, which she understood as the building block of life. She recognized America as the greatest political embodiment of those values," the statement read. "From military superiority and defense to immigration and trade; from unborn life to the nuclear family and parenthood, Phyllis Schlafly was a courageous and articulate voice for common sense and traditional values."
Schlafly was most well-known for her work fighting the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970's, emerging as one of the leading female critics of the feminist movement.
Schlafly, until her death, remained in the political arena and recently made the case for electing Donald Trump president. On Monday night the Republican nominee eulogized Schlafly in a statement.
"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," Trump said. "I was honored to spend time with her during this campaign as she waged one more great battle for national sovereignty."
In her final days, Schlafly caused consternation among some conservatives by backing Trump.
She endorsed the billionaire at a rally in her home city of St. Louis, Missouri in March, despite the fact many of her fellow travelers in the movement don't see the Republican candidate as a true ideological conservative, likening him to Ronald Reagan.
"I can remember 1980 when a lot of us didn't think Reagan was an authentic conservative," Schlafly told CNN in an interview in May.
"Reagan turned out to be best president of the century," she said. She backed Trump partly because he was the only candidate talking about illegal immigration, which she said was "the most important issue in the country."
Funeral arrangements are still being finalized, according to the Eagle Forum.
Statement from the Eagle Forum:
“Today, Phyllis Schlafly has gone home to be with her Lord after a long illness. America has lost a great stateswoman, and we at Eagle Forum and among the conservative movement have lost a beloved friend and mentor, who taught and inspired so many to fight the good fight in defense of American values. I have personally lost a dear friend of over forty years.
Known as the “sweetheart of the silent majority,” and the matriarch of the conservative movement, Phyllis Schlafly has been a visionary, a unifier, and a voice of conscience for more than six decades.
Phyllis has been credited with doing the impossible, when she and the army of grassroots volunteers she led and trained defeated the so-called Equal Rights Amendment, which had passed both houses of Congress and seemed destined for certain ratification among the states.
Also previously thought impossible, Phyllis not only brought together people of various faiths that historically worked separately, she brought these people of faith into the political process like never before, creating a crucial voting block of values voters.
Following the defeat of the Equal Rights Amendment, many of the volunteers Phyllis trained became leaders in the organization that was named Eagle Forum. The name was inspired by Psalm 40:31, an encouragement to the battle weary that those who wait upon the Lord will “mount up with wings like eagles.”
Phyllis and her beloved “Eagles” are known for fighting tirelessly and for mobilizing political power for principle, not prestige or profit. For decades under Phyllis’ leadership, Eagle Forum has led the pro-family movement through such diverse and important battles as defending the unborn, defending traditional marriage, defending American workers from unfair trade and immigration policies, defending individual inventors from losing their intellectual property to large corporations, defending women from being drafted into military combat, defending full-time homemakers, defending conservatives and grassroots activists from establishment kingmakers, defending children from politicized public education defending American taxpayers from out-of-control federal spending and defending against threats to American exceptionalism.
There will never be another Phyllis Schlafly. Today is a day to celebrate her amazing legacy and to remember the profound difference she made in the conduct of American public policy. Thank you, Phyllis. We will not grow weary.”