What is The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) & Where Do Things Stand Now?
The ERA is an amendment to the United States Constitution that would guarantee women the same rights under law as men. Currently, 80% of Americans believe women already have these rights, but that’s incorrect.
The only right women currently have written into the Constitution is the right to vote. That’s it.
The first version of the ERA was written all the way back in 1923. It picked up significant steam in the 60s, eventually passing in the House in 1971 and in the Senate in 1972, thus moving to state legislatures for ratification. And that’s where it’s been stuck ever since.
Here’s how: Thirty-five state legislatures ratified the ERA within the first 5 years, but by then, a strong and well organized opposition had taken hold. Because the ERA had a deadline, the final tally fell three states short of the necessary 38 needed to make an amendment into law.
Fast forward to March 2017, when seemingly out of the blue, Nevada ratified the ERA on the 45th anniversary of the day Congress sent it to the states. Nevada’s ratification is also significant, because thanks to the 2016 election, its state legislature was over 40% women. Women in power matter.
One year later, in May 2018, Illinois became the 37th state to ratify, and in February 2020, Virginia became the 38th, thus satisfying the state count needed for an amendment to become law.
Today, it’s back in play, and the ERA is the closest it has ever been to becoming the law of the land. It just needs a push.
But there are administrative and legislative hurdles that need to be cleared before we are successful. And there is action happening now on both fronts to get that done.
At the national level, enlightened congresswomen and men have filed legislation to remove the deadline blocking ratification that was set back in the 70s. In March 2021, the House passed its version of that legislation. It’s now up to the Senate.
There are also a few lawsuits working their way through diﬀerent jurisdictions that will need to be settled. Hundreds of organizations and associations have signed on to amicus briefs to show support for the ERA in each of those suits.
And right here in South Carolina, resolutions have been filed in both chambers of the state legislature for state ratification of the ERA. While South Carolina is no longer needed to fulfill the necessary state count, the conversation of equality must be had.
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