The Equal Rights Amendment: It’s About Time

NOTE: This is a guest blog post from Maggie Arden, Blogger and Social Media Director at Fem2.0.

The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was first written in 1923 by Alice Paul. It took 49 years to be passed out of Congress. However it failed to be ratified by the required 38 states to become a part of the United States constitution. Right now, three-fourths of Americans believe the ERA is part of the constitution. Some ask then, is it necessary to actually ratify at this point?

Yes, it is.

The ERA states:

Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.

In each new Congress the ERA is introduced. In January Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) introduced a bill in their respective houses in Congress. Menendez explained that since it has not been ratified the courts might not guarantee protection for women under the law. Given who is in power at any time, the 14th amendment could be interpreted as only applying to half the population. In January, Feminist Majority president Eleanor Smeal said, “We’ve got to make sure it’s explicit in the constitution.”

With continued examples of gender- based discrimination coming to courthouses around the country every year, stating in no uncertain terms in the constitution will have an impact on our national conscience. In June Rep. Maloney said, “The Equal Rights Amendment is still needed because the only way for women to achieve permanent equality in the U.S. is to write it into the constitution.”

While we struggle to see this come to fruition, America strongly urged Iraq and Afghanistan to include women in their constitutions. It is hypocritical of us to help other countries rebuild their governments and neglect the same issues at home.

The latest introduction of the ERA has two approaches. The first would start the clock to ratify back at zero. This means passing the ERA through Congress all over again, and seeking ratification from three — fourths of the states, meaning 38 states.

The second approach is called the “three state strategy.” With 35 states having already ratified the amendment by 1982, this would mean it would just take three more states to ratify. Once that happens, the ERA would become a constitutional amendment.

How is this possible? In 1789 the Madison amendment regarding Congressional pay raises was passed. The three-fourths goal was reached in 1992. Some in Congress believe the 203 years it took the Madison amendment to pass means the 35 existing ratifications of the ERA are still viable. What this really means is once three of the remaining states pass the ERA in their legislature, we amend the constitution.

In case you’re wondering the states yet to ratify are: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah and Virginia.

Find out more about what is happening with the ERA.

Learn if your legislator is a co-sponsor. If not, please contact them about co-sponsoring.

Back in June Sen. Menendez said, “It is a disgrace that American women are still not constitutionally guaranteed equal rights under the law.” He is right. We can do something about it. Instead of seeing the amendment introduced again with each new Congress, we can help see it pass once and for all.

This post originally ran on Fem 2.0 here.

Photo By NOW via Flickr

61 comments

K s Goh
KS Goh5 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Adrienne Brietzke

At a time when so many men - and women - are pushing for more and more oppression of those of the female gender - more control by others and limitations on abortions, birth control, etc. this would be a great 'push back' issue to undertake! I was astounded when it didn't pass the last time! I think we have too many politicians who'd actually take away our right to vote, rather than support this needed "leveling of the playing field." However, so long as these neanderthals - and the moronic women who support them - outnumber us, it's a steep, uphill battle. But then, the last time it was tried, we didn't have the Internet, Facebook or Twitter. We've been managing some fairly effective petition campaigns thru those communications methods, perhaps they'd help sweep in the ratification. I'd love to see that happen.

Yvonne Fast
Yvonne F.5 years ago

It's amazing that we still have to fight this cause! it's after all the 21st century!

Aki F.
Aki Fujii5 years ago

If the creator had made the female of the specie larger than the male things would've progressed/evolved a lot differently. THE STRONGER WILL NEVER UNDERSTAND THE PLIGHT OF THE WEAKER. It's like asking a white person what they would feel like if this white person were black. Ask the rich what it's like to go hungry. Blacks and other minorities are still treated with prejudice, people of the LGBT community are still persecuted against, domestic violence will continue, and some men will continue to prey upon children...female and male and on other adults in society. Attitudes take a longer time to change...if ever.... than the passing of legislation.

Check out the animal kingdom. When it comes down to basics...."Might is right" and will always be so...whether backed up by intelligence or not. The amendment needs to be passed to ensure that the weak are protected. Either that or genetically alter females so that they are the same in physical stature of that of males or genetically alter males so that they are of the same general strength as females. Voila!

Ellie Damann
.5 years ago

thanks

Martha Eberle
Martha Eberle5 years ago

Out of the states mentioned, still needing to ratify, surely we can get Illinois! Now, more than ever! Women still earn 3/4 of what men earn for the same job. If for no other reason than that, we should pass the E.R.A.!

My young daughters and I road the Freedom Train to Illinois, to try to get that state to ratify. That was ~40 years ago! It's time.

Hartson Doak
Hartson Doak5 years ago

ERA? You got the vote in 28. Isn't that good enough.? What more do you want? Equal pay? Equal opportunity? Come on isn't that asking too much. You are only women you know. You are only half of society. The first educators of the next generations. The ones who bring balance and love to a hateful male dominated society. Women are the equals to men in all things, Except love and compassion. Women are superior to men in these capacities.

Bruce S.
Bruce S.5 years ago

It DOESN'T belong as a "constitutional amendment" anymore than a DOMA type amendment would be.

Lilithe Magdalene

Yes.

Marty Piotruszewicz Rajan
Marty rajandran5 years ago

On the positive side: yes, of course, it is about time. On the other hand, you know it is really decades since this was rejected by American women......and to be frank, have they changed their thinking these past decades. We feel we are the No 1 country in the world.....so sad to say, no this is not true, especially for women. Where is home care for nursing and pregnant women (check out Europe), free day care for working mothers (check Europe), free or low cost health care for women and children...check out most countries, including third world countries in the world. Sorry, we are just not as good as we think. But, yes, ERA should pass, but just wonder if there are jobs for anyone: men or women in the USA....or as Newt says, lets put the kids to work!!!!