Tag Archives: Equal Rights Amendment

Way Past Time to Pass the Equal Rights Amendment to the US Constitution

It is disgraceful that the United States still has not passed the Equal Rights Amendment to the US Constitution.  Now in the Trump ERA seems the right time to renew the push to pass the ERA.  It is the right time to mobilize the American people and the energy and outrage at the backward efforts by Trump and the GOP to dismantle many safeguards and efforts of our country  to better the life of our citizens.  It is a question of human dignity and equality to say that All Americans regardless of sex shall be treated equally under the law.

As the New York Times write in an editorial entitled “The Equal Rights Amendment Returns”:

Having a sexist in the Oval Office who curries favor with conservative religious groups is having dire consequences. Health workers in developing nations are preparing for a rise in unsafe abortions due to President Trump’s reinstatement of the global gag rule that prohibits federal funding of groups that provide abortion services or referrals. Here at home, his administration has been hostile not only to abortion access, but even to birth control.

But Mr. Trump’s presidency is also having some effects he probably doesn’t intend. Rage at the election of a man who boasted about grabbing women’s genitals helped set off the #MeToo movement’s reckoning with sexual misconduct. A record number of women are running for office around the country, many of them announcing their candidacies after participating in women’s marches the day after Mr. Trump’s inauguration.

And now, on Mr. Trump’s watch, feminists could reach a goal nearly a century in the making, and that many assumed would never come to pass — ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution. It states: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.”

Congress passed the ERA on March 22, 1972.  Three quarters of the states are needed to ratify a Constitutional Amendment. According to Wikipedia 36 states have voted to ratify the ERA.  Nevada did so in 2017.. Illinois is moving to becomes the 37th, with their Senate voting YES on  April 11, 2018 by a 43 to 12 vote.

As the New York Times article pointed out there are strong arguments to continue the fight to pass the ERA:

Looking at everything the E.R.A. would not do raises the question of why it’s still needed. Here’s why it is: The court decisions that make up the “de facto E.R.A.” can be undone in a way a constitutional amendment cannot. The E.R.A. would add an extra layer of legal protection for women — and men — against discrimination. This could become especially important if Mr. Trump gets to pick additional conservative Supreme Court justices.

There’s also a symbolic and emotional element to this fight that’s not to be discounted. Ruth Bader Ginsburg — who, before becoming a Supreme Court justice, fought many legal battles over gender discrimination and is a longtime supporter of the E.R.A. — summed up this argument in 2014.

“I would like my granddaughters, when they pick up the Constitution, to see that notion — that women and men are persons of equal stature,” she said. “I’d like them to see that is a basic principle of our society.”

Enshrining women’s rights in the Constitution matters. Doing so now, during this presidency, would be particularly fitting.

This is an issue that needs action and is long overdue.  States that have in the past voted in one House but not both include Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Virginia. If Illinois does pass it then only one more state is needed. Maybe Virginia is a strong possibility with their recent change in their Legislature.



Time for Congress and States to Pass the Women’s Equality Amendment

It used to be called the Equal Rights Amendment. Now some are calling it the Women’s Equality Amendment. First passed by Congress in 1971, it fell 3 states short of being added to the US Constitution. Thirty five state legislatures passed it, including Washington State in 1973. Three quarters of the states or 38 are needed for passage.

The 15 states that have not ratified the ERA are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, and Virginia.

Notice the association of states not passing the amendment with our current list of Presidential candidates. John McCain – Arizona, Barack Obama – Illinois and Hillary Clinton who lived in Arkansas when her husband was Governor.

To date some 23 states have added equal rights amendments to their state constitutions. Washington State voters did so in 1972.

Action to pass the equal right amendment is proceeding on several fronts. The Equal Rights Amendment was re-introduced last year in Congress as the Women’s Equality Amendment. The proposed Constitutional Amendment “prohibits denying or abridging equality of rights under the law by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”

The Women’s Equality Amendment has unfortunately languished in committee. It’s been 37 years and its time for the Democrats to use their majority to move the issue forward. As Eleanor Smeal noted in a talk on public radio “We’re the only industrial country in the world right now that has not ratified the United Nations Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Sex Discrimination.”

In the US Senate the Women’s Equality Amendment is S.J. Res 10 and has 24 sponsors including Democratic Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barrack Obama, one of whom will be the Democratic nominee for President. The Republican’s most likely nominee, Senator John McCain is not listed as a sponsor.

Washington State Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray are also sponsors.

The House bill, H.J. Res 40 has 202 sponsors. All of Washington’s Democratic Congressmen (Brian Baird, Rick Larsen, Adam Smith, Jim McDermott, Jay Inslee and Norman Dicks) are sponsors of the House Resolution but Washington State Republicans Dave Reichert, Cathy McMorris Rogers and Doc Hastings are absent as sponsors. If Dave Reichert is defeated by Democrat Darcy Burner this November you will see another co-sponsor for sure.

As EqualRightsAmendment.org notes, the issue is still very much alive even without further Congressional action:

“A three-state strategy for ERA ratification was developed after 1992, when the so-called Madison Amendment to the Constitution was ratified 203 years after its passage by Congress. Acceptance of this ratification period as “sufficiently contemporaneous” led ERA supporters to argue that Congress has the power to
maintain the legal viability of the ERA’s existing 35 state ratifications. The ERA’s time limit is open to change, as Congress demonstrated in extending its original deadline. Precedent holds that rescission votes are not valid. Therefore, Congress could accept state ratifications that occur after 1982 and keep the existing 35 ratifications alive.”

It seems appropriate and timely to ask McCain, Clinton and Obama to use their campaigns to bring this issue to the forefront again and urge action by both the remaining states and Congress to pass the Women’s Equality Amendment. Let’s see some leadership in action. Let’s move America forward.

If McCain isn’t willing to support the amendment, the public has a right to know that. To date he appears not to, by his not signing on as a co-sponsor of S.J. Res 10. But if he is for it, he should let the public know.