“Equality of rights shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of sex.”

The Equal Rights Amendment

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In the aftermath of the largest march on the planet, this year Nevada is poised to be the first state in 35 years to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. This is yuge!

The ERA is a key goal in the principles outlined by the national Women’s March leadership, and that goal is beginning to see the light of day.

But we still have a long road ahead. So today, on International Women’s Day, also known as “A Day Without A Woman,” ERA Minnesota and WomensMarchMN are teaming up to bring a critical mass of folks to the state Capitol to demand equality.

Wage discrimination, domestic violence, international women’s rights, rape and sexual assault, female poverty, pregnancy discrimination, female incarceration and the law all tie together to thwart women’s progress. An Equal Rights Amendment embedded in our Constitution will address all these issues.

ERA Minnesota (ERAMN), an organization of thousands of folks all across the state, has put forth legislation to memorialize Congress to remove the deadline on the federal ERA, thereby allowing three more states to ratify it in order to reach the 38-state threshold that will embed the ERA into our U.S. Constitution. In addition, we have bills in both chambers to embed an equal rights amendment into our state Constitution allowing protection against discrimination on the basis of sex.

Our chief authors have requested hearings for the Minnesota bills, but thus far the hearing requests have been ignored by the Republican-owned House and Senate.

What’s to fear about simple equality? Removing the artificial deadline on the ERA, known as the “three-state strategy,” will provide a clear path to eliminating discrimination on the basis of gender in our Constitution and allow equal access to justice for both women and men. Ninety-five percent of Americans believe we should have equal rights.

Our biggest challenge is that 72 percent of citizens still think the ERA passed last century or that somehow we have laws that protect us from discrimination on the basis of sex. We don’t. What we have are piecemeal laws that fall short of full equality. The U.S. Constitution governs all the courts in the land; without an ERA, our patchwork laws do not fully protect us.

The ERA is bipartisan. Written by a Republican, it was supported by every Republican president and their wives until 1980 and was passed through both houses of Congress in 1972; then it was sent out to the states for ratification. It needed 38 states to be added to the constitution, but an artificial deadline was slapped on it and in the 10 years allotted it garnered only 35 states before the deadline took effect.

Removing this artificial deadline on the Equal Rights Amendment requires a simple majority in Congress.

Now there is legislation at the federal and state level to remove the June 30, 1982, ERA deadline, thereby permitting three more states to ratify it in their legislatures to reach the 38-state threshold. ERAMN’s state legislation includes SF229/ HF356, a resolution memorializing Congress to remove the deadline on the ERA; and SF224/HF189 and SF101/ HF313, seeking a constitutional amendment providing gender equality under the law.

On International Women’s Day on March 8, aka “A Day Without A Woman,” ERAMN and #WomensMarchMN will be at the Capitol in numbers too great to ignore.

Our goal: Keep calm and demand equality.

 

Betty Folliard, a former state representative, is president of ERA Minnesota.