In 1923, suffragettes and women’s rights activists drafted the Equal Rights Amendment. It was introduced into every session of Congress thereafter until 1973 when it passed in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Immediately thereafter, 22 states ratified the amendment. However, the Constitution requires 38 states vote to ratify a new amendment to the Constitution. In 2017, Nevada became the 36th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. Earlier this week, Illinois became the 37th. That leaves the Equal Rights Amendment one vote shy of making its way into the Constitution of the United States.
55 years after being passed by Congress, the ERA is one step closer to becoming the law.
What is the Equal Rights Amendment?
The Equal Rights Amendment stipulates that all rights granted under the Constitution and all subsequent laws must apply equally regardless of sex.
- Equality of rights under the law cannot be abridged by either the federal or state government based on sex.
- Congress has the power to enforce by legislation the provisions of this article.
- The amendment takes effect two years after its passage.
If you are not entirely sure what that means or how that is different from the way in which things already work, then you are not alone. But it is also worth understanding.
For instance, the First Amendment is a prohibition on what the government can do. It prohibits the government from exercising prior restraint against the free exercise of speech and the press. In fact, each one of the Bill of Rights is similar in this regard. They all limit the authority and aegis of government and grant individuals the right to due process under the law.
The ERA is very much the same in that regard. It prohibits any federal or state agency from passing a law that abridges the rights of citizens based on their gender.
Many believe that it could mean a massive overhaul to the way workplace sex discrimination lawsuits are handled and that it could potentially force employers into a kind of de facto compliance with regulations that, by and large, already exist.
Why is There Opposition to the ERA?
Many believe that the amendment is redundant. There are already laws at the federal and state level that expressly prohibit gender discrimination in the workplace. That, alone, of course, is not a good reason for opposing a measure, is it?
Elise Bouc, who was the chairwoman for the Stop ERA initiative in Illinois said the amendment was “poorly written and vague.” She noted that the Supreme Court has ruled favorably for women under the 14th Amendment.
The other argument against the amendment is the insight that perhaps it would not be in women’s best interests to be equal to men under the law. That, in fact, being equal to men under the law might have incredibly dire consequences for women.
In the 1970s, Phyllis Schlafly believed that it could force women into military combat and cause them to lose alimony and child support payments. She believed that the language of the ERA forced them into an absolute sameness with men. On top of that, it could lead to other “dire” consequences like same-sex marriage and unisex bathrooms. Of course, the amendment would figure prominently for abortion rights.
Nonetheless, the amendment is one state away from passing.
If you have been denied a raise or a promotion based on gender or sex discrimination contact HKM Employment Law of Las Vegas and we can begin preparing your case.