As the 2024 Minnesota legislative session lurched to a close, howls of rage filled the Senate chamber.

"Traitors," Republican lawmakers shouted across the aisle. They yelled, they booed, they melted down like toddlers at Build-A-Bear. And those were the guys who got their way — on one issue at least.

The clock had run out on the Equal Rights Amendment. Again.

The end of an ERA. The start of the next.

Before the dust settled in St. Paul, organizers were planning to try, try again to place the ERA on the ballot for Minnesotans to decide for themselves.

Shall the state Constitution be amended to guarantee equal rights? Do Minnesotans have a right to expect their state to protect them from discrimination based on their race, disability, sex or sexual orientation? Do Minnesotans have a constitutional right to make their own decisions about their own pregnancies, gender identity or gender expression?

The House said yes. The polls said yes. The Senate said yes last year to a similar version of the bill that didn't spell out reproductive rights.

"We're on the right side of history," said Betty Folliard, founder of ERA Minnesota. "We won't take no for an answer. And we will prevail."

The National Archives once dubbed the ERA America's "most popular never-ratified Amendment." Alice Paul, a leader of the suffrage movement, wrote the first draft in 1923, just three years after women won the right to vote: "Men and women shall have equal rights throughout the United States and every place subject to its jurisdiction."

The last time the archivists counted, about a decade ago, the ERA had been reintroduced in Congress 1,100 times. One out of every 10 proposed amendments to the Constitution has been about an Equal Rights Amendment.

It came close after the second world war. Alice Paul lived long enough to see the ERA pass Congress and sweep triumphantly through a swath of state legislatures — including Minnesota, which ratified the amendment in 1973. She did not live long enough to watch it fall three states short of the 38 it needed for ratification before an arbitrary time limit set by Congress expired.

University of Minnesota law professor Jill Hasday could fill a book with the myths, misconceptions and misogyny deployed against the ERA over the years. Or at least an entire chapter of her book, "We the Men: How Forgetting Women's Struggles for Equality Perpetuates Inequality," coming in 2025 from Oxford University Press.

"One of the arguments people who are against the ERA will say is, 'We already have sex equality, we don't need this," she said. "At the same time they say that though, they'll talk about all the terrible things that the ERA will allow — especially abortion."

Over the past 101 years, the ERA has enjoyed the support of presidents and lawmakers. It's been a plank in the Republican and Democratic party platforms. But there were always those who balked and fought and dragged their heels just enough to ensure it never happened. There were always supporters afraid to bring race, sexual orientation, gender identity or abortion into the ERA, fearful that controversy would cost votes and we'd never get a 28th Amendment.

"The fact that there is such strong opposition, year after year, tells you why we need it," said Megan Peterson, executive director of Gender Justice and part of the dogged coalition that helped push the ERA so close to the finish line this year.

"Even from some of our own folks, we sometimes hear, 'Do we even need this? Don't we already have these rights?'" she said. "Look, if we already had these rights, people would not be willing to filibuster to the end of time and bring down the institution of the state Legislature to stop it from happening. Clearly, there's something we don't currently have, that they don't want us to have."

Minnesotans have introduced equal rights amendments to the state Constitution almost every legislative session since 1973 — which was as far back as the heroic researchers at the Legislative Reference Library could dig without actually digging through boxes of paper documents.

Most states have equal rights provisions in their own constitutions. Nevada voters added an equal rights amendment to the state constitution in 2022. The ERA will be on the ballot in New York this November.

For those without a constitutional guarantee, the past few years — as the Supreme Court overturned Roe and conservative lawmakers legislated against pronouns and targeted trans kids — have been a harsh reminder.

The rights you take for granted today could vanish in the next election if you don't spell them out somewhere.