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The Equal Rights Amendment
Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.
Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.
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The Equal Rights Amendment:
Unfinished Business for the Constitution
The proposed Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) states that the rights guaranteed by the Constitution apply equally to all persons regardless of their sex. After the 19th Amendment affirming women’s right to vote was ratified in 1920, suffragist leader Alice Paul introduced the ERA in 1923 as the next step in bringing "equal justice under law" to all citizens.
In 1972, the ERA was finally passed by Congress and sent to the states for ratification. The original seven-year time limit was extended by Congress to June 30, 1982, but at that deadline, the ERA had been ratified by only 35 states, three states short of the 38 required to put it into the Constitution. The ERA has been introduced into every Congress since the deadline, and beginning in 1994, ERA advocates have been pursuing two different routes to ratification:
- the traditional process described in Article V of the Constitution (passage by a two-thirds majority in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, followed by ratification by three-quarters of the states), and
- the innovative “three-state strategy” (ratification in three more of the 15 state legislatures that did not ratify the ERA in 1972-82, based on legal analysis that when three more states vote yes, this process could withstand legal challenge and accomplish ratification of the ERA).
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"The Equal Rights Amendment:
Unfinished Business for the Constitution" (video)
This 17-minute educational video (5-minute excerpt below) traces the changing status of women's rights in the United States from the writing of the Constitution to the 72-year struggle for woman suffrage to the ongoing campaign for the ERA. Purchase the DVD with a discussion guide for $10 or download the video for $7 (pay via PayPal or credit/debit card, click "Return to Alice Paul Institute, Inc." to complete the download). Email Alice Paul Institute with questions.