The Equal Rights Amendment (or ERA) was created to provide equal protection to women under federal law. But did you know the ERA has not been ratified into the U.S. Constitution? It’s true. Congress passed the Equal Rights Amendment in 1972 and sent it to the states to ratify, to which 35 of them did. 45 years later, in 2017 and 2018, Nevada and Illinois became the 36th and 37th states in the union to ratify the Amendment. The U.S. is just one state short of the 38-state requirement for adoption of the ERA.
As the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia stated: “Certainly the Constitution does not require discrimination on the basis of sex. The only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn’t.”
80% of Americans are surprised to hear that the ERA is not official law, and 94% of Americans support ratification of the ERA into the U.S. Constitution — that includes overwhelming majorities of Republicans, Democrats and unaffiliated voters nationwide.
Many Utahns would like to see our state take the unique and historic step of becoming the 38th state and pass the ERA into law. That’s why organizations like Fair Utah have stepped up to create the Utah ERA Coalition to team up with partners like Mormons for ERA, Women Lawyers of Utah, National Association of Women Business Owners and many others to educate lawmakers about why passing a bill to ratify the ERA in Utah matters for protecting women across the nation and supporting women in Utah.
Utah is home to many FIRSTS for women: FIRST woman to cast a U.S. ballot, FIRST female State senator, and home to FIRST suffragettes who helped get the 19th Amendment ratified to grant women the right to vote nationally. Utah’s ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment would honor their memory and efforts for a more just and fair society. Interestingly enough, Utah has had equal rights language built into its state constitution since 1895. What an opportunity for Utah’s constitution to be a model for the rest of the country!
The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of Utah being the first place a woman cast a ballot in the modern nation. By passing a bill to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, Utah would have the opportunity to celebrate 150 years of Utah women in leadership by giving ALL people constitutional protection against sexual discrimination under the law.
But what about…
There are many misconceptions about the ERA and what ratifying it might do. Check out this list of ERA Myths Dispelled. Or this column by Michelle Quist outlining “A conservative case for the Equal Rights Amendment.”
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Would you like to see the ERA ratified? Check out how you can get involved and actions you can take at Fair Utah’s ERA Coalition Website.