The ERA in the States
The Equal Rights Amendment was passed by Congress on March 22, 1972 and sent to the states for ratification by both houses of their state legislatures. A proposed amendment becomes part of the Constitution when approved by three-fourths (38) of the 50 states.
During the next five years, 35 states approved the amendment. By the Congressionally imposed deadline of June 30, 1982, however, no additional states had voted yes, and the ERA fell three states short of ratification.
The 15 states that have not yet ratified the Equal Rights Amendment are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, and Virginia.
Beginning in 1995, after formulation of the "three-state strategy" for ERA ratification, ERA bills have been introduced in one or more legislative sessions in nine of the unratified states (Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, Oklahoma, and Virginia).
The Illinois House, but not the Senate, passed an ERA ratification bill in 2003. In 2011, 2012, and 2014, the Virginia Senate passed a resolution ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment, but the House of Delegates did not release the companion bill from committee for a full vote on the House floor.
Reports from the Grassroots
ERA advocates in the majority of the 15 unratified states and a number of the 35 ratified states have continued to educate and organize politically to put the Equal Rights Amendment into the Constitution.
Continuing updates are provided here to inform policymakers and the public about political activity that is currently happening with the Equal Rights Amendment at the state level.
Click on the name of a state to to see what's going on there with the ERA.
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Further information: Berta Seitz, Coordinator, Arkansas ERA Coalition (firstname.lastname@example.org)
April 3, 2013
Senate committee fails to pass ERA ratification bill on April 2
SJR 19, a bill ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment, failed to pass out of the Arkansas Senate's Committee on State Agencies and Governmental Affairs on Tuesday, April 2. The committee, which includes 5 Republicans and 3 Democrats, rejected the bill by a voice vote along party lines.
ERA bills were also introduced in the state's 2005 and 2007 legislative sessions and failed to get out of committee by tie votes in both years. Primary sponsors of the 2013 bill are Sen. Joyce Elliott (D-31) and Rep. Warwick Sabin (D-33).
Lindsley Smith, former AR Representative and primary sponsor of the 2007 ERA bill, testified in favor of the bill.
[Further information: Sandy Oestreich, sandyo@PassERA.org]
Equal Rights Amendment resurfaces as issue
April 9, 2013 (myFOXtampabay.com)
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - Women's-rights activists are trying to revive a campaign to add Florida to the list of states that ratified the proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
A proposal (HCR 8001) seeking to make Florida the 36th state to ratify the 1970s-era amendment was reviewed Tuesday by the House Local and Federal Affairs Committee.
The committee didn't vote after hearing from amendment supporters, including one who urged lawmakers to "have the backbone" to vote.
Rep. Lori Berman says women have made great strides toward equality but insists the amendment is needed as a "fundamental legal remedy" against any remaining gender discrimination.
A law professor says a vote might have no binding effect since the ratification deadline long passed. Supporters say Congress or the courts could accept more ratification votes.
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Illinois Senate Passes Resolution to Ratify the Equal Rights Amendment
May 23, 2014
With a 39-11 vote, the Illinois Senate voted – by more than the necessary three-fifths margin of elected senators, as required by state law – to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). If it moves forward in the state House, Illinois will become the 36th state to ratify the ERA.
“Ratification is not just a hugely important symbolic step but a move to establish women’s rights as a bedrock principle in the Constitution,” said Illinois Senator Heather Stearns, who has previously supported proposals for the state to adopt the amendment. “From equal pay to equal access to health care, freedom from gender-based discrimination should be the law of the land and not subject to political whims. Equal rights are not a fad; they’re in the fabric of our nation, and the ERA confirms that.”
“It’s exciting to see that the Illinois Senate has voted to ratify the ERA,” said Feminist Majority President Eleanor Smeal, who led a massive national ERA campaign as President of the National Organization for Women. “The ERA has strong support in Illinois, and women deserve action.”
“The ERA is on the move again. In February, the Virginia Senate voted to ratify, and now the Illinois Senate,” continued Smeal. “The overwhelming support of voters for the ERA and the gender gap in voting is moving the ERA forward.”
Authored by suffragist and National Women’s Party leader Alice Paul, the Equal Rights Amendment directs, “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex” and gives Congress the power to enforce the Amendment through appropriate legislation.
Congress first approved the ERA and sent it to the states for ratification in 1972. Within five years, 35 states had ratified the ERA, but corporate interests and right-wing politicians have blocked the movement from obtaining the three additional states necessary for the ERA to become part of the US Constitution. States that have not ratified the ERA include: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, and Virginia.
Illinois Lawmakers Push State to Ratify Decades-old 'Equal Rights Amendment’
April 15, 2013 (mystateline.com)
SPRINGFIELD -- More than 40 years after it passed Congress and 30 years after the 'Equal Rights Amendment' lapsed after failing to get 38 states needed to ratify it, three state Representatives are introducing a bill to have Illinois ratify it. If passed, Illinois would be the first state since 1982 to pass the Equal Rights Amendment. 35 states did pass the 'ERA', but the act expired in 1983 before getting approval in 2/3rd's or states, meaning even adoption by three more states would not legally ratify it as an amendment to the Constitution.
Supporters believe that after passage by three more states, they could then argue in the courts that that the time limits imposed by and later extended by Congress for passage of the 'Equal Rights Amendment' are not legitimate because time limits are not mandated by the Constitution. Some legal analysts have expressed doubts that the Supreme Court would overturn previous rulings requiring a "sufficiently contemporaneous" time period for an amendment to the Constitution, or overturn a deadline self-imposed by Congress.
Re-passage of a new Equal Rights Amendment by two-thirds of Congress and 38 states is seen as highly unlikely politically.
The 1972 Equal Rights Amendment states the following:
- 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.
It was passed at a time when gender discrimination was rampant, and supporters believed the only way to address it was with a Constitutional Amendment. Opponents argued, however, that women are already covered under the Constitution's 'equal protection clause' and that creating a separate amendment only for women would create more legal problems for women than it solved.
Reps. Lou Lang, Kelly M. Cassidy and Naomi D. Jakobsson disagree. They have introduced the 'Ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment' bill in the Illinois House. They argue the Amendment is needed because, as they wrote in a news release, "women do not have constitutional protection when it pertains to sexual and gender discrimination, fair and equal pay and the guarantee of a fair and balanced trial when a woman is raped-including women in the military."
It goes before the House Judiciary Committee for consideration on Tuesday [Apr. 16].
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[Further information: Marena Groll, email@example.com]
RESOLUTION CALLS FOR ERA RATIFICATION
April 3, 2013
A resolution calling on both houses of Congress to pass legislation aimed at putting the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) into the U.S. Constitution has been gaining political and grassroots support in North Carolina since the beginning of March 2013.
Marena Groll of Sneads Ferry drafted the Onslow Initiative Resolution after attending a Mar. 2 ERA program in Washington, DC, led by the National Women's Political Caucus and co-sponsored by the American Association of University Women and the ERA Task Force of the National Council of Women's Organizations.
"It's exciting to see this kind of enthusiastic response," Groll said. "Many would hardly see us as the county to stage the comeback push for the ERA in North Carolina."
The ERA states "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex."
It was passed by Congress in 1972 but fell three states short of the 38 needed for ratification by a June 30, 1982 deadline. Legal analysis indicates that despite the time limit, the 35 existing ratifications may still be viable if three more state legislatures approve the amendment.
The Onslow resolution promotes national legislation to implement both this "three-state strategy" and the traditional ratification process described in Article V of the Constitution.
Although North Carolina is one of the 15 states that did not ratify the ERA between 1972 and 1982, Groll predicted, "This initiative could well put us on the map as ground zero in the struggle for the simple and long overdue justice of the ERA. As one of the last three states needed, we could make history."
Interest in the Equal Rights Amendment is growing both statewide and nationally as women's participation in the public arena increases dramatically at the same time as efforts intensify to reverse some of women's political and societal advances.
"In hindsight," Groll said, "we see how much our country advances as women advance. Evidence from the 22 states that have had some version of a state ERA for many decades shows that the cultural fears of what women's equality would look like are unfounded."
An April 2012 poll for Daily Kos and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) asked respondents, "Do you think the Constitution should guarantee equal rights for men and women, or not?" The replies were 91% yes, 4% no, and 5% not sure.
While only Democratic and progressive grassroots organizations have endorsed the resolution so far, Groll encourages support for the ERA as a bipartisan issue.
"The Republican Party adopted support of the ERA in its national platform in 1940, four years before the Democratic Party did," she said, "but then dropped it in 1980. We encourage North Carolina Republicans to lead their party's return to its historic support of this guarantee of the right of the individual to be free from sex discrimination under the law."
State and national information about the ERA can be found online at www.era-nc.org/ and www.equalrightsamendment.org.
[Text may be amended as appropriate to apply to other organizations.]
A Resolution calling for passage of the Equal Rights Amendment and removal of the time limit.
Whereas, the U.S. Constitution does not explicitly guarantee that all of the rights it protects are held equally by all citizens without regard to sex and the only right it specifically affirms to be equal for men and women is the right to vote in the 19th Amendment, 1920; and
Whereas, the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause has never been interpreted to guarantee equal rights for women in the same way the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) would as demonstrated by the fact that currently cases of sexual discrimination receive only a heightened level of intermediate scrutiny but should receive the highest level of strict judicial scrutiny, just as racial discrimination does; and
Whereas, the ERA ensures that women will have equal rights under the U.S. Constitution, and the 2012 Democratic National Platform reaffirms women's rights as civil rights as well as its continuing support of the ERA; and
Whereas, the ERA was passed by Congress in 1972 and ratified by 35 of the 38 states necessary to put it into the Constitution, yet was debatably assumed to have expired in 1982; and
Whereas, more recent legal analysis supports the conclusion that the Constitution imposes no time limit for ratification of amendments; Congress can alter time limits in the proposing clauses of amendments; and ratification of the Madison (27th) Amendment 203 years after it was first proposed supports the premise that state ERA ratification votes since 1972 are sufficiently contemporaneous;
Now, Therefore, Be It Resolved, that we call on all members of the U.S. House and Senate to co-sponsor, support, and pass into law joint resolution bills* for both the traditional Article V ratification process of the ERA and also for the "three-state strategy" process that would remove the time limit for ratification of the ERA so that ratification shall be achieved upon the affirmative vote of 38 states, of which 35 have already ratified; and
Be it Further Resolved, that support for either strategy is not mutually exclusive with support for the other; and
Be it Finally Resolved, that the Democratic Party of ________________ County pursue grassroots and legislative strategies for passage of the ERA and support of the Article V and three-state strategies to put the Equal Rights Amendment into the Constitution.
Approved by the ________________ County Democratic Party, this ____ day of ______, 20___.
* The Senate traditional ERA ratification bill, S.J. Res. 10, was introduced March 5 by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ); bill numbers of other ERA joint resolutions in the U.S. House and Senate will be available upon introduction in the near future.
Resolution adopted by:
|3/03/13:||02-02 Precinct, Cabarrus County Democratic Party|
|3/13/13:||Fayetteville National Organization for Women|
|3/14/13:||Northeast B (NeB22) Precinct, Onslow County Democratic Party|
|3/15/13:||Sneads Ferry (SF18) Precinct, Onslow County Democratic Party|
|3/19/13:||Democratic Women of Onslow County|
|3/25/13:||Onslow County Democratic Party Executive Committee|
|3/28/13:||Democratic Women of Cabarrus County|
|Democratic Women of Carteret County|
|4/13/13:||Cabarrus County Democratic Party|
|Carteret County Democratic Party|
|4/18/13:||Johnston County Democratic Party|
|Democratic Women of Pitt County|
|4/20/13:||Cumberland County Democratic Party|
|Onslow County Democratic Party|
|Pitt County Democratic Party|
|5/04/13:||Democratic Women NC Region 8|
|5/09/13:||Democratic Women of Craven County|
|5/11/13:||NC Congressional District 3 Democratic Party|
|5/16/13:||Democratic Women of Buncombe County|
|Johnston County Democratic Party|
|5/20/13:||NC Congressional District 1 Democratic Party|
|NC Congressional District 2 Democratic Party|
|NC Congressional District 4 Democratic Party|
|NC Congressional District 7 Democratic Party|
|NC Congressional District 8 Democratic Party|
|NC Congressional District 10 Democratic Party|
|Johnston County Democratic Party|
|10/21/13:||Democratic Women of Jones County|
|Democratic Women of Person County|
|Democratic Women of Durham County|
|Democratic Women of Tri-County (Cherokee, Clay, Graham)|
|Democratic Women of Edgecombe County|
|Democratic Women of Johnston County|
|Democratic Women of Moore County|
|Democratic Women of Wilkes County|
|Democratic Women of Lenoir County|
|Democratic Women of Nash County|
|Democratic Women of Wayne County|
|Democratic Women of Wilson County|
|10/21/13:||Democratic Women of North Carolina|
|06/07/14:||North Carolina Democratic Party (ERA Resolution Adopted as Amended by NC4ERA)|
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[Further information: Diana Egozcue, VA NOW President, firstname.lastname@example.org]
Virginia Senate passes Equal Rights Amendment
Augusta Free Press
Jan. 26, 2016
The Equal Rights Amendment cleared the floor of the Virginia Senate for the fifth time in six years. SJ 1, sponsored by Senator Scott Surovell (D-Fairfax), passed 21-19 on Tuesday on a near-party-line vote with most Senate Republicans opposed.
Speaking to the bill on the Senate floor, Senator Surovell said, “Virginia is one of 22 states that currently has gender equality in our Constitution. Section 11, Article 1 of the Constitution of Virginia currently says that ‘all people have the right to be free from government discrimination on the basis of religious conviction, race, color, sex, or national origin.’ So equal rights have been codified in our Constitution since 1971. This is something that isn’t new to Virginia. It is a Virginia value.”
After the vote, Senator Mamie Locke (D-Hampton) said, “This is something that we have been fighting to advance for decades. True gender equality is not going to be achieved until we amend the U.S. Constitution, and the only way to amend the U.S. Constitution is to ratify the ERA at the state level. We are moving in the right direction. I implore my colleagues in the House to now take this up and do the right thing.”
Senator Barbara Favola (D-Arlington) said, “Gender equality has been in the Virginia Constitution for 40 years, but the same cannot be said at the federal level. Various sitting Supreme Court Justices have in fact maintained that equal treatment on the basis of gender is not included in the Fourteenth Amendment. This is something that is long overdue in Virginia and nationwide.”
The Virginia Senate has repeatedly moved to ratify the federal Equal Rights Amendment, approving SJ 216 in 2015, SJ 78 in 2014, SJ 130 in 2012 and SJ 537 in 2011. Each of these proposals died in the House.
Contact: Leanne Littrell DiLorenzo
On November 4, 2014, by a nearly 2-1 margin (64%-36%), Oregon voters approved Measure 89, a ballot initiative that adds an equal rights amendment to the state constitution.
The amendment guarantees that “equality of rights under the laws shall not be denied or abridged by the State of Oregon or by any political subdivision in this state on account of sex.” That text mirrors the language of the long-proposed Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the U.S. Constitution.
The amendment remedies the Oregon Supreme Court’s ruling that laws in the state may treat people differently based on gender if justified by specific biological differences.
Leanne Littrell DiLorenzo, chief petitioner for the ballot measure, led a multi-year effort to get the state ERA on the ballot.