Actually they don’t. If you, like me and 75 percent of Americans, believed that they do, know now that you are mistaken. I didn’t know this myself until I ran across a short piece in The Humanist magazine titled HJ Resolution 47 and the ERA.
As Bernadette Cahill notes, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was logically correct when he wrote that “the Fourteenth Amendment—the equal protection clause—does not include discrimination against women.”
Cahill goes on to explain that:
The move to pass an Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was first launched in 1923 by Alice Paul. Congress passed the ERA in 1972 with the requirement that the measure be ratified by thirty-eight states within seven years. The deadline was later extended to ten years, and by 1982, thirty-five states had ratified. The deadline came and went, and while legislation to pass the ERA has been repeatedly reintroduced in Congress ever since, the United States still doesn’t recognize equal rights for women in its Constitution.
This situation is a national failure. While it creates disabilities for both sexes, women still bear the greater burden. It denies them a key tool to fight unequal pay; they face penalties equally under the law, such as capital punishment, yet they don’t enjoy equal rights; it’s also an international disgrace, making a mockery of the United States’ image as a beacon for human rights, even as our ambassadors have promoted equal rights for women in the constitutions of Iraq and Afghanistan.
I was both surprised and embarrassed by my ignorance of this fact but I wasn’t shocked to learn that my beloved Alabama was one of the several states whose legislatures have not yet ratified the ERA which also include Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, and Virginia.
What HJ Resolution 47 (devised by the group United 4 Equality) will do is remove the deadline for ratification of the ERA and clarify that upon ratification by three more states, the Equal Rights Amendment would be added to the U.S. Constitution.
By removing the deadline from the 1972 bill, the thirty-five ratifications would stand, paving the way for faster ratification of this long-awaited improvement to our fundamental law. It also provides the possibility for women who fought for the ERA in the 1970s to witness the achievement of equal rights for the sexes during their lifetime.
Section one of 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.
I encourage you all to contact your representatives and urge them to vote for this resolution and If you live in one of these states that have yet to ratify the ERA, please voice your concern and displeasure at their lack of action on this important Amendment.