Opponents claim that the ERA ERA: FAQ


Frequently Asked Questions

The proposed Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the United States Constitution is a political and cultural inkblot, onto which many people project their greatest hopes or deepest fears about the changing status of women. Since it was first introduced in Congress in 1923, the ERA has been an issue with both rabid support and fervid opposition. Interpretations of its intent and potential impact have been varied and sometimes contradictory.

The following answers to frequently asked questions about the ERA are provided to encourage evaluation of the amendment on the basis of facts rather than misrepresentations. Further information on the Equal Rights Amendment is in "The Equal Rights Amendment: Unfinished Business for the Constitution," a 17-minute educational DVD available on this website.

Click on a question to see the answer.

(PDF version)

  1. What is the complete text of the Equal Rights Amendment?

  2. Why is an Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution necessary?

  3. What is the political history of the ERA?

  4. Which 15 states did not ratify the ERA by June 30, 1982?

  5. Why are these states being asked to ratify the ERA even though the 1982 deadline has passed?

  6. Can a state withdraw, or rescind, its ratification of a constitutional amendment that is still in the process of being ratified?

  7. Do some states have state ERAs or other guarantees of equal rights on the basis of sex?

  8. Since the 14th Amendment guarantees all citizens equal protection of the laws, why do we still need the ERA?

  9. Why has the ERA sometimes been referred to as the Women's Equality Amendment?

10. Aren't there adequate legal protections against sex discrimination in the Equal Pay Act, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, Titles VII and IX of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, court decisions based on the 14th Amendment's equal protection principle, and other laws and court cases?

11. How has the ERA been related to reproductive rights?

12. How has the ERA been related to discrimination based on sexual orientation and the issue of same-sex marriage?

13. How has the ERA been related to single-sex institutions?

14. How has the ERA been related to women in the military?

15. Would the ERA adversely affect existing benefits and protections that women now receive (e.g., alimony, child custody, Social Security payments, etc.)?

16. Does the ERA shift power from the states to the federal government?

17. What level of public support exists for a constitutional guarantee of equal rights for women and men?