SHOULD THE "ERA" FINALLY BE RATIFIED?

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SHOULD THE

In recognition of Women’s History Month – let’s consider the following question:  Is there still a need for the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA)?

On March 22, 1972, the Equal Rights Amendment was passed by the US Senate and sent to the states for ratification. It was first proposed by the National Woman’s political party in 1923 to provide legal equality of the sexes and prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex. More than four decades later with the revival of feminism in the late 1960s. it was officially introduced into Congress. Under the leadership of U.S. Representative Bella Abzug of New York and feminists Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem, the ERA won the requisite two-thirds vote from the House of Representatives in October 197. Passes the Senate in March 1972 and then on to the states.  But, this is where the momentum stalled.

Hawaii was the first state to ratify what would have been the 27th Amendment, followed by some 30 other states within a year. However, during the mid-1970s, a conservative backlash against feminism eroded support for the Equal Rights Amendment, which ultimately failed to achieve ratification by a required 38, or three-fourths, of the states.  Because of the rejection of the Equal Rights Amendment, sexual equality, with the notable exception of when it pertains to the right to vote, is not protected by the US Constitution. 

Then, finally, in January 2020, Virginia became the 38th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), as required by the US Constitution.  This technically pushes the ERA across that threshold, yet, there are still hurdles in the ERA’s path. The ratification deadlines that Congress set after it approved the amendment in 1972 have lapsed, and five states have acted to rescind their prior approval.

Now, back to the original question: Is there still a need for the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA)?  Before you form an answer, examine the following.

  • One in four women have experienced violence by a partner/spouse at some point in her lifetime.
  • Women of all races earn, on average, earn only 82 cents for every $1 earned by men of all races.
  • Women are underrepresented in government even though women make up nearly 51 percent of the U.S. population. Yet, only 25 percent of the Senate and 23 percent of the House is comprised of women.
  • About one-in-five employed women in the U.S. (22%) say they have been sexually harassed at work.
  • About 42% of women say they have experienced some form of gender discrimination in the work place.
  • As soon as girls enter school, their abilities are underestimated and undervalued. This has led to women being underrepresented in many science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) K-12 education courses and college majors.
  • Auto insurers usually charge fixed semi-annual premiums that cost women more on average per mile than men for insuring their cars.
  • Life insurers charge women more for annuities that on retirement pay identical benefits to both women and men.

 There are a myriad of data and points to be made regarding gender inequality. All raise important questions and issues about the rebirth of the ERA.  It’s up to Congress, the Courts, and the American people to resolve them. So, what do you think?



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