Virginia becoming the 38th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment was a great achievement for everyone, but there is another hurdle in the way. In 1982 the United States Congress added a timeline for the states ratification that has come and gone.
Women around the country were encouraged when, on February 6, 2020, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation (H.J.Res 79) to remove that timeline. That legislation (S.J.Res 6) was introduced to the Senate where it now sits. Our action now is to get that resolution to move forward. There is no timeline for Equality!
Women continue to face discrimination on the basis of sex even while there has been significant progress throughout the years. However women battle systematic discrimination in the form of unequal pay, workplace harassment, and domestic violence, to name a few. In fact, a study by the National Partnership for Women and Families analyzed the pay gap in individual states and found that Utah continues to have one of the largest gender gaps in the country.
A constitutional amendment would guarantee a much stronger mandate for equality than state legislation or any type of legal precedent. The values enshrined in our Constitution are unshakeable and having the ERA be a part of it, would ensure that any future challenges to equal rights will be struck down.
Did you know that Utah has an Equal Rights Amendment? “The rights of citizens of the State of Utah to vote and hold office shall not be denied or abridged on account of sex. Both male and female citizens of this State shall enjoy equally all civil, political and religious rights and privileges.” Article IV Section 1 page 16.
The U.S. amendment would read as follows: Section 1. 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 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
It is painfully clear that almost 100 years has passed and there are still barriers to the upward journey of half the human race.
We still have hope. The momentum and desire for the ERA has grown in the past few years and is now greater than ever. In 2017, Nevada ratified the amendment, and in 2018 Illinois followed suit. In 2020 Virginia became the 38th state to ratify, giving the amendment the three-fourths of state support needed to be enshrined in the Constitution.
The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld that Congress can determine whether an amendment has been ratified within a reasonable time. Equality does not need to wait for the right timing and Sens. Mike Lee and Mitt Romney should vote to pass S.J. Res 6.
The resolution has bipartisan support. Ninety-four percent of the American public support the ERA and in conservative Utah, it has 70% support.
The Equal Rights Amendment is long overdue. Remove the ratification deadline and show the nation that equality has no time limit.
Please contact Sens. Mike Lee and Mitt Romney and ask them to support the removal of the timeline. You can find more about the ERA and the senators’ contact information on our website www.lwvutah.org.
Co-President of the League of Women Voters Utah