Phyllis Schlafly, who became a "founding mother" of the modern U.S. conservative movement by battling feminists in the 1970s and working tirelessly to defeat the Equal Rights Amendment, died on Monday at the age of 92, her Eagle Forum group said.
Schlafly, who lived in the St. Louis suburb of Ladue, Missouri, died at her home in the presence of her family, Eagle Forum said in a statement. The cause of death was not given.
She was still a conservative force and popular speaker in her 90s, endorsing Donald Trump for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016 and praising his policy on immigration. She was a delegate to the Republicans' convention in Cleveland.
Schlafly once called feminists "a bunch of bitter women seeking a constitutional cure for their personal problems," Time said, while insisting that "women find their greatest fulfillment at home with their family."
Her political ardor did not fade with age and in 2014, as President Barack Obama pushed for pay equity for women, Schlafly sparked controversy with a column for the Christian Post saying a man's paycheck comes first.
"The pay gap between men and women is not all bad because it helps to promote and sustain marriages," she said. "... The best way to improve economic prospects for women is to improve job prospects for the men in their lives, even if that means increasing the so-called pay gap."
Schlafly promoted traditional family values and once told a reporter that she always listed her occupation as "mother" when filling out applications. But she was hardly a typical stay-at-home housewife/mother.
Shortly after marrying lawyer Fred Schlafly in 1949, she became active in Republican Party politics in Alton, Illinois, and ran unsuccessfully for Congress twice. She would go on to found the Eagle Forum grass-roots conservative group, write a newspaper column and newsletter and author some 20 books.
Her crowning achievement was crusading to prevent the Equal Rights Amendment from being added to the U.S. Constitution and it made Schlafly a leader in the modern American conservative movement.
"Phyllis Schlafly courageously and single-handedly took on the issue of the Equal Rights Amendment when no one else in the country was opposing it," said James C. Dobson, chairman and founder of Focus on the Family. "In so doing, she essentially launched the pro-family, pro-life movement."
Biographer Donald T. Critchlow said defeating the ERA helped usher in a conservative era in American politics and boosted Ronald Reagan to the presidency.
In her decade-long fight against the ERA, Schlafly traveled across the country to speak at rallies and persuade state legislators not to approve the ERA.
Along the way she often debated feminist writer Betty Freidan, who called Schlafly "a traitor to her sex" and once told her: "I'd like to burn you at the stake."