Activists have begun rallying once more for the Equal Rights Amendment, thought dead after its 1982 ratification deadline was passed.
The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was first proposed in 1923, stating in its first section “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 ERA also empowered Congress to enforce the first clause, and set a date of two years after the ratification for it to be fully emplaced in law and enforced.
It stagnated in proposal for decades, with initial success in being passed by the Senate for proposal stymied by an added clause. The rider, added by Senator Carl Hayden, stated “The provisions of this article shall not be construed to impair any rights, benefits, or exemptions now or hereafter conferred by law upon persons of the female sex.”
This change was viewed as supporting inequality by the National Women’s party, one of its primary supporters. As such, they withdrew their support until and unless it was removed, leading to the amendment failing.
It was proposed to the states for ratification in 1972 after passing Congress, and failed to achieve the required number of ratifications by its initial deadline of 1979 and the extended deadline of 1982.
However, supporters for the amendment have begun to rally for it once more, with Nevada ratifying the amendment on March 21, despite the deadline.
“It was in the resolving clause,” Nevada Senator Pat Spearman stated, “but it wasn’t a part of the amendment that was proposed by Congress. That’s why the time limit is irrelevant.”
Supporters have proposed that the deadline could be extended once more, given the initial extension, even if the clause was taken into account.
Detractors have spoken out, stating the amendment is pointless at this stage, with the protections it would grant already given by other laws passed since its initial proposal. Further, Republican lobbyists have proposed that it would give more support to pro-abortion laws and policies, and thus would do only harm.
According to Lake Country Right For Life, “The ERA is not about women’s rights. It’s about creating a genderless society, that removes “sex” as a legal characteristic. ERA will legalize all gay rights, including same-sex marriage.”
Robin Titus, of the the Nevada State Assembly, stated, “[I am] deeply disturbed by the theatrics.”
Groups such as the National Organization for Women see Nevada’s ratification as a major stepping stone, and are focusing on getting the last two states needed for ratification to pass the amendment.
“It’s very exciting. Over the past five years, Illinois and Virginia have come close.” NOW President Terry O’Neil has said, “I think there is clear interest in this.”
While Congress has not moved to extend the deadline of the ratification, the amendment’s supporters are still adamant, stating the amendment is greatly needed in today’s society.
One source cited was the Global Gender Gap report by the World Economic Forum, an international non-profit organization, which ranked the United States as 45th in the world in gender equality.
By its metric, there is a 30 percent gap between women and men on average in economic power and civil rights, something which ERA supporters feel could be legally addressed by the amendment.
Senator Spearman said to the press, “This bill is about quality, period.”