Did you know that the U.S. Constitution doesn’t explicitly say men and women have equal rights?
March is Women’s History Month, and we’re voicing our support for a joint resolution introduced by Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., that would enshrine legal gender equality for women and men in our constitution. We have submitted a statement for the record in support of removing the arbitrary deadline for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) as the 28th Amendment.
The ERA was originally proposed in Congress in 1923, but the chambers did not pass it until 1972. In order to be added to the constitution, it needed three-fourths of the states – or 38 states – to ratify the amendment. By 1977, only 35 states had ratified the ERA, prompting Congress to extend the deadline for an additional three years from the original seven years. The deadline passed and no additional states had voted to ratify the ERA.
In the past few years, Nevada, Illinois, and Virginia have ratified the ERA, putting the threshold at 38 and breathing new life into the fight for gender equality. However, ratification deadlines have lapsed, and five states have rescinded their prior approval. It is a point of debate whether their action to rescind their approval was legally valid.
There is nothing in the U.S. Constitution that sets a time limit for state ratifications, and Congress has previously voted to extend the time for ERA ratification. The current joint resolution, S.J. Res. 4, would remove this arbitrary time limit entirely and ensure that the final ratifying states are counted.
“The Equal Rights Amendment would constitutionally prohibit discrimination on account of sex and create a level playing field for women and girls and in particular women of color and other historically marginalized groups,” said AFGE in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman and ranking member. “AFGE represents hundreds of thousands of government workers across the country who would benefit greatly from the ERA.”
“AFGE urges you to support S.J.Res. 4, to remove the deadline for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment to ensure workers and all people are treated with dignity, fairness, and respect and not discriminated against based on sex.”