90th Anniversary of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA)

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

You would never know it today by the religious zealots who have hijacked the GOP, but not that long ago the Republican Party had a very active Republican Women for Choice organization, and women for the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), which included First Lady Betty Ford. The ERA came up short of passage in 1982, under the deadline established by Congress.


First Ladies Rosalynn Carter and Betty Ford at a rally for ERA, 11/19/1977.

People have forgotten what was at stake in the fight over the ERA. Justice Antonin Scalia has a long history of expressing skepticism toward the
Constitution’s shield against laws that discriminate against women. He he has repeatedly claimed that the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of “equal protection of the laws” does not prevent gender discrimination:

“Certainly the Constitution does not require discrimination on the basis
of sex. The only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn’t. Nobody
ever thought that that’s what it meant. Nobody ever voted for that. If
the current society wants to outlaw discrimination by sex, hey we have
things called legislatures, and they enact things called laws.”

Justice Scalia is correct. The 14th Amendment was intended to eliminate the vestiges of slavery and racial discrimination in America (freed slaves and Chinese immigrants in California were the focus of the congressional debate). Equal rights for women was not debated by Congress.

Because there is no express prohibition of discrimination on the basis of gender in the Constitution, this is what allows radical Tea-Publican state legislatures to render women second-class citizens to their fetus during pregnancy (at the same time, these religious zealots pursue a "personhood amendment" intended to give full constitutional rights to the fetus from the moment of conception).

If there was an express prohibition of discrimination on the basis of gender in the Constitution, the constitutional standard of review for these statutes would be the "strict scrutiny" standard of review — the state would have to demonstrate a compelling state interest. This could be a game changer. Women would be entitled to constitutional "equal protection" and "due process." Religious zealots like Phyllis Schlafly and her Eagle Forum, which worked to prevent passage of the ERA, fully understood this result.

July 21, 2013 marks the 90th Anniversary of the Equal Rights
Amendment’s (ERA) introduction. The Progressive Democrats of America have a strategy to pass the ERA. PDA Supports the Equal Rights Amendment:

July 21, 2013 marks the 90th Anniversary of the Equal Rights
Amendment’s (ERA) introduction by American women’s rights hero and ERA
author, Dr. Alice Paul. The non-partisan amendment was
introduced in both chambers of Congress by Republicans in December, 1923
and finally passed—49 years later—and was sent out to the states for
ratification in 1972.

After nearly a century, Dr. Paul’s vision of full Constitutional
equality for U.S. women is yet to be fulfilled because the ERA has been
stalled since 1982, 3 states short of the 38 required to ratify a
Constitutional Amendment. This unjust delay is largely due to an
arbitrary deadline that was placed on ERA ratification. Nevertheless,
Joint Resolutions—SJRES15 and HJRES43—to remove the ERA’s ratification
deadline, allowing time to gain the support of 3 of the 15 un-ratified
states, was introduced on May 9, 2013 and is gaining momentum in

As we all know, the war on women is raging in every corner of the
United States. From Capitol Hill to State Houses in every direction of
our country—attacks are being launched to roll back rights won for women
decades ago. That’s why more than ever, ERA ratification is
necessary—to ensure right’s under the law for all citizens are enshrined
in the Constitution.

In April, PDA launched the ERA 3 State Strategy Team (our newest).
This team has successfully used social media to engage both
organizations and individuals to support their legislation; there are
currently 78 House supporters and 29 Senate supporters. Additionally,
they have developed an interactive map to track the progress of the ERA
legislation; this map connects the Twitter accounts of the Senators and
Reps. The teams latest technology innovation is to build a Thunderclap
which will automatically send a message to Facebook and Twitter accounts
on July 22nd; Currently the Thunderclap will reach more than175,000

Please join PDA’s Thunderclap action
to send a clear, collective message to Congress: “Remove the deadline
to ratify the stalled ERA by co-sponsoring Joint Resolutions—SJRES15 and
HJRES43. 90 years is long enough for American women to wait to be
recognized as full citizens in the U.S. Constitution.”

On Monday, July 22, 2013 at 9pm EST the ERA team will have their monthly Issue Team call. Click here to join the call.

There is no reason why a companion ERA Amendment could not be added to the Arizona Constitution as well, which would afford women the same constitutional protections. The legislature can refer the amendment to the voters, or a citizens initiative can put the measure on the ballot. I would encourage our Democratic Caucus in the state legislature to pursue this state constitutional amendment. It is long past time to finish the long civil rights struggle to grant women equal rights under the Constitution.

One response to “90th Anniversary of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA)

  1. crmod1@yahoo.com

    Hello can you help me gain information on what really happened in 1983 as ERA was trying to get the final pass federally? I know the basic timeline but where can I go to find deep information of the legislative struggle inthe 1970s to 1983. Thanks…any connection with MLK Day and loss of passage of ERA since they happened in the same year?


    Cristie crmod1@yahoo.comi