We were thrilled to see coverage of the significance of the Equal Rights Amendment, and of continuing efforts to enshrine gender equality in the Minnesota Constitution ("Minnesota Equal Rights Amendment supporters hopeful heading into 2023 session," Dec. 3). In the months to come, we will be working with our partners in Minnesota to make equality for all a reality.
However, the article reports: "Despite a 1972 vote in the U.S. House and Senate to pass the Equal Rights Amendment, not enough states voted to ratify it by the deadline in 1982." That does not tell the full story.
The federal ERA is very much alive. In fact, by rights the ERA is the 28th Amendment to our Constitution. It is imperative for Americans to understand this because the ERA is the most powerful tool available to guarantee equality for all, save our democracy and protect reproductive rights for all Americans, as state ERAs have done in New Mexico, Connecticut and, most recently, Utah. And we have this tool at our fingertips.
The federal ERA has met all constitutional amendment requirements. Following ratifications by Nevada in 2017, Illinois in 2018, and Virginia in 2020, the federal ERA received the required number of state ratifications, 38 total. Hundreds of constitutional scholars, including Harvard Prof. Laurence Tribe and former U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., now president of the American Constitution Society, have determined that the "deadline" is invalid.
The Trump administration, however, blocked publication of the ERA as our 28th Amendment, despite being required by law to do so, in large part because the ERA would protect reproductive rights. Consequently, the three most recent states to ratify sued to require publication. Twenty-two other states, including Minnesota, joined in, acknowledging that all constitutional requirements have been met and urging immediate publication of a revised Constitution containing the 28th Amendment.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and other U.S. senators and representatives also have urged the Biden administration to publish the ERA. To date, that has not happened. Shockingly, the Biden administration is fighting in court against the ERA, making the same arguments as the Trump administration.
Publication of the ERA may not be the last word on the validity of the amendment, as the opposition is intense. Nonetheless, publication is critical as it will provide a presumption of validity and shift the burden of proof to the opponents of equality for all and reproductive rights. That's exactly where it should be – on the parties trying to take away fundamental rights for more than half of Americans.
One thing is certain. The Biden administration must publish the ERA. The ERA has never been needed more — in both the U.S. and Minnesota Constitutions. And we will continue to fight to make that happen, because equality for all is a fundamental human right that is not negotiable.
Nicole Vorrasi Bates is executive director, Shattering Glass, in Washington D.C. Kamala Lopez is president, Equal Means Equal, in Los Angeles, Ca. Jeff Farmer is director of organizing, Equal Means Equal, in Golden Valley, Minn.