“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 1 of the Equal Rights Amendment
It is absurd that we still have not been granted a constitutional amendment granting equal rights on the basis of sex and gender. One could argue that we have achieved equal rights via many laws throughout the years, but when women are still struggling for equal pay, reproductive rights, and countless other issues, clearly these laws are not strong enough.
So why hasn’t the Equal Rights Amendment passed? Is it really that hard to visualize equal rights?
Originally introduced to Congress in 1923, the amendment was drafted by suffragist Alice Paul, who was instrumental in getting the, admittedly white and middle-to-upper class, woman’s right to vote in 1920. And to this day, it has still not been ratified by enough states to be made into a constitutional amendment, despite being reintroduced to every Congress since 1982 when it reached its state ratification deadline with only 35 of the 38 states needed.
In the 70’s when the amendment was finally passed – and depending on two thirds of the states’ ratification – conservative activism, particularly by infamous anti-feminist Phyllis Schlafly, turned the nation away from passing an amendment granting equal rights to all sexes. Schlafly and other conservatives at the time argued that the passing of the Equal Rights Amendment would give same-sex partners the right to marry, have abortions funded by taxes, lead to unisex bathrooms, and more. While these are things modern day Americans already have or want, these concepts were horrifying to traditionalist conservatives, and still are.
The same brand of conservative fear of women’s advancement and rights is what holds the ERA back today. This Tea Party rhetoric of keeping women in their place, and “the gays taking over the world” needs to stop. It not only takes away from the real issues at hand, like wage inequality, immigration, or student debt, but it also takes away actual rights from actual people. It is 2015.
The ERA may seem like beating a dead horse to some, but a constitutional amendment unabashedly granting equal rights could be the support needed to fix many of our problems relating to gender inequality since the U.S. Constitution is considered the supreme law of the land. A constitutional amendment granting equal rights on the basis of sex could possibly be an end to all the lawsuits and legal battles women face when trying to fight for their rights, and a possible step towards full gender equality. Women deserve rights. People of color deserve rights. The disabled deserve rights. LGBT+ people deserve rights. Veterans deserve rights. The elderly deserve rights. As human beings, we deserve our constitutional rights in the United States of America.
You can find out more information on the official website of Equal Rights Amendment.org