The Equal Rights Amendment Gets New Life 45 Years after Passed by Congress
On March 22, 1972, the U.S. Congress passed the Equal Rights Amendment to specifically protect citizens based on gender, which then moved to the states for ratification. After a ten-year deadline, which many argue was arbitrarily imposed and irrelevant, the ratification process was still three states short. (It takes 3/4 of the states to ratify a constitutional amendment.) Nevertheless, advocates for the amendment continued to push for state’s to ratify it even after the deadline passed.
Now, 35 years later, Nevada is set to ratify the ERA. (For more info see this story from NPR.) That means the multi-decade “3-state strategy” for the ERA has now become a 2-state strategy, with Illinois and Virginia the most likely states in play. How is it that it is now 2017 and more than 1/4 of the states still can’t bring themselves to say that women deserve equal rights under the law?
Many who oppose the amendment argue that women are already protected by other legal provisions. While it is true that the 14th amendment is sometimes used to address gender discrimination, the ERA would require a higher level of court review for those cases. And while there are federal laws protecting gender equality, they are at the whim of Congress. Moreover, those that argue that the ERA would invigorate other politically-charged social issues can look to the states that have adopted an equal rights amendment for proof that the sky will not fall. In other words, I don’t buy any of these arguments.
Women have fought and sacrificed throughout U.S. history to have their country recognize that they are equal under the eyes of the law to men. While great progress has definitely been made, the fact that our Constitution still doesn’t address gender equality is proof that the battle has not yet been won.
If you are looking for a way to get involved and help this amendment finally pass, check out this great article from Bustle, “How To Fight For The Equal Rights Amendment, Because 2017 Is Our Year.” And, you can dig deeper into the Amendment itself at The Alice Paul Institute’s Equal Rights Amendment site.
Keep up the good fight!