ERA Re-filed!! by Angie King
2 August 2011 355 views No Comment
The language of the Equal Rights Amendment: Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article. This Amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification. They say what’s old is new, and there is a new generation that was not even born when the “old” (actually the second) Equal Rights Amendment was passed by Congress in 1972. (The first was introduced by Alice Paul in 1923.) Nearly forty years have passed since the Congress passed the Equal Rights Amendment (also known as the Women’s Equality Amendment). This historic Constitutional Amendment was intended to ensure equality for women and men in all areas of society. When Congress passed the ERA in 1972, it provided that the measure had to be ratified by the necessary number of states (38) within 7 years. This was later extended to the still tight deadline of 10 years, but unfortunately the ERA was just three states shy of full ratification when the deadline passed in 1982. This is the only Amendment with a time limit. It is noteworthy to point out that the Bill of Rights (the first 10 amendments) had no time limit; indeed, it is still technically pending in states that have not yet acted on it. Recent Supreme Court cases make the ERA even more a priority – the recent Wal-Mart case, effectively barring a class action by the women employees nationwide, all of whom were paid at scales lower than the men for the same jobs; the Lily Ledbetter case, denying a claim for wage discrimination based on sex because the employee didn’t know of the disparity until after 180 days had passed; and countless other examples in our daily lives where we are slipping backwards. Congress should give the states another chance. Thus, a bill to enact the ERA has been filed in this year’s Congress. Our Congressmember, Lois Capps, has signed on as an original cosponsor. In her press release, she says, “In the past several decades, women have made extraordinary strides toward achieving equality – but this progress is not irreversible. Without the ERA, women have often been denied the ability to seek justice when they have experienced discrimination. The Supreme Court decision in the Virginia Military Institute case (Virginia v. United States) helped clarify that gender “classifications may not be used... to create or perpetuate the legal, social, and economic inferiority of women.” However, laws can still perpetuate gender classifications that keep women from achieving their full potential. Passage of the ERA is the Constitutional affirmation of the Supreme Court decision.” Angie King has been advocating for women in SLO County for many years, as the chapter coordinator for the National Organization for Women and until recently, as president of the Women’s Community Center.