By Nancy Black
Has it really taken this long? I remember my mother fighting for equal rights 48 years ago. Her male counterparts at an advertising agency, who did not work as hard as she did, were getting paid more money. Why? Because they were men. And she was a woman. A divorced woman, no less, with four children.
You’d think it wouldn’t have taken four decades to all agree, legally and constitutionally, that women should have equal rights. But it has. And it has been a long, drawn out battle for equality.
It all started way back when in 1923, when a super smart woman with three law degrees, Alice Paul, wrote The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). According to equalrightsamendment.org, the original ERA was known as the “Lucretia Mott Amendment.” It stated: “Men and women shall have equal rights throughout the United States and every place subject to its jurisdiction. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.” Its goal was to end the legal distinction between men and women in regard to divorce, property, employment and other matters.
Paul’s amendment was introduced in Congress the same year. And then again in 1924. And 1925. And in every session of Congress for 50 years going forward.
The Equal Rights Amendment was finally passed by Congress on March 22, 1972 and sent to the states for ratification. But, for it to be added to the actual Constitution, it needed approval by three-fourths (38) of the 50 states. By 1977, only 35 states had approved the amendment.
In January 2020, Virginia became the crucial 38th state to ratify the ERA. Now it’s a done deal, right? Hardly. First, Congress has to eliminate the original deadline set forth in 1972. There are two bills in Congress (H.J. Res 79 and S.J. Res 6) designed to tackle that task. But now supporters of the ERA must fight three states in court who are still trying to block the amendment: Alabama, Louisiana and South Dakota. Those states are actually suing the National Archivist of the United States of America to keep him from adding the amendment to the Constitution.
The governors of those states challenge that the time limit for the ratification is up. “The people had seven years to consider the ERA, and they rejected it. To sneak it into the Constitution through this illegal process would undermine the very basis for our constitutional order,” Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said. According to CNN, “He argued that while Alabama, Louisiana and South Dakota are ‘firmly committed to equality,’ the ERA ‘would not promote true equality, but rather a far-left agenda.’”
Sometimes I think men forget that they came from a woman. Every single one of them. Maybe those same men think they are smarter than their mothers, too. I sure hope my youngest doesn’t have to wait another 48 years for this important piece of legislation to finally be added to our Constitution.
Yes, Virginia! Women should have equal rights. Let’s all show our support for getting it done. Now!