What is the ERA?
- ERA is an amendment to the U.S. Constitution first proposed in 1923, soon after the amendment providing for the right of American women to vote was adopted. Strong actions to achieve ratification of the ERA reached their height from 1972-1982, when 35 of the 38 required states had ratified. So, the ERA was not then ratified, but just slept. Until now!!!!!
The text of the Equal Rights Amendment has remained the same since 1943:
“Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.” It means that where sex discrimination is now practiced, it must stop. For the first time in U.S. history, people can pursue their life courses according to their interests and capabilities, unlimited by their sex.
Why is ratifying the ERA important now?
- America is ready: All the “Dreadeds” from the 1970’s arguments (unisex bathrooms, women in combat, abortion, same-sex anything) are all moot. Now our brave servicewomen and men fight overseas for equality there, but return home to be denied. SHAME ON THE U.S! During the previous work to pass the ERA, 61% of citizens polled said they believed the ERA belongs in the U.S. Constitution – and look how much was done with that 61% support! But, now an independent professional survey shows that 88% of American citizens want the ERA in the Constitution. Yet, most believe it’s already there – 72%! (Ref. nationwide survey, Views of the American People on Equal Rights for Male/Female Citizens, Opinion Research Corporation, Princeton, NJ, established in 1939).
U.S. Congressional Resolutions for Constitutional adoption of the ERA now await the completion of the full 38 states’ ratifications. Past state ratifications cannot be rescinded. (Ref.) A three-state strategy has been proposed that is less costly, less time-consuming, quicker, and less risky politically than starting ratifications all over. Ratifications of only three more states out of the 15 still unratified are needed.
- By past precedent (an unrelated 203 year old amendment was recently ratified) the ERA is still legally held timely (“contemporaneous”) and viable, fair, and just by Congressional Research Service, which researches legal issues and other for Congress.
- Bills to ratify the ERA are currently being introduced in the States of Illinois, Missouri, Florida, and others. Still unratified are the States of Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, N. Carolina, Oklahoma, S. Carolina, Utah and Virginia. We only need three of them!
- No nation can afford to put aside more than half its population. America needs every shoulder to the wheel. Women’s power should be unleashed to propel our society and its economy forward.
- Young women expect equality. Older women demand equality as unfinished business. There is a People’s groundswell for the Equal Rights Amendment – The ERA’s TIME HAS COME!
Why do we still need the ERA?
- The majority of American citizens – women – still do not have any incontestable, constitutionally guaranteed rights to self-determination as whole, free persons other than the right to vote.
- Men’s rights can also be negatively impacted by the absence of an ERA. Virginia women are still paid an average of 32% less for the same or comparable jobs even when unpaid family care time is factored in! That injustice affects Social Security and pensions: one in seven elderly women wind up in poverty. Military servicewomen who may be wives and mothers are still being discriminated against and violated, too. Without the ERA, courts are free to discriminate on the basis of sex.
- State statutes and constitutions supposedly assuring women’s legal rights continue to be diluted, unenforced, made worse, or overturned state by state,
- The 14th Amendment often has been ineffective to support women’s Constitutional equality (sect. 2 confers it to be men only). Laws, too, can be thwarted, ignored, weakened, overturned, or made worse. Note that the very successful, established law, Title IX, was nearly overturned recently, as was Affirmative Action, which worked for many years to help equalize the workplace for women and minorities. Laws remain somewhat ephemeral – no matter how long in place!
- In 1874, American women realized that if they wanted the right to vote (eventually won in 1920, fifty years after ALL men) they would have to amend the U.S. Constitution. One hundred years later, (Ref. Craig v Boren) women again realized that if we want Equality guaranteed in writing, we are going to have to amend the Constitution again. The ERA is the only firewall around equality of the sexes. Typically, after years of sex discrimination – large and small, when any woman finally gets enough courage and enough cash to go to court, she is discriminated against AGAIN! Traditionally courts may review her case with less importance, with Intermediate Scrutiny. Strict Scrutiny, higher level, is accorded cases of discrimination based on race, religion or national origin. Because these ARE in the Constitution – sex discrimination is not.
- Every constitution in the world written after World War II includes a statement that men and women are persons of equal stature or similar words (per Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, May 2002, paraphrased interview), but not the United States. Afghan people have something Americans don’t – guaranteed equal rights (January 6, 2004). At least they have it IN WRITING – WE DON’T. What one doesn’t have guaranteed in writing, one just does not HAVE.
Benefits that could derive from an ERA include: Legal first-class citizenship status. Full rights to self-determination as full and whole persons. Equal treatment under the law (men and child custody, draft registration). Equal pay. Studies show that a nation enjoys more social and fiscal stability where equality is the standard. As educational levels go up, divorce rates decline. Most women especially KNOW they are routinely discriminated against. It is demoralizing, un-American.