My 23 year old daughter and her friends seem ambivalent about the importance of ratifying 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.”) ("ERA")
The enigma, from my perspective, is what is holding these young women back from being passionate about getting Constitutional law to unequivocally state that women are equal with men? (Some States have state ERA laws but courts have been inconsistent in applying them because there is not a Federal law framework.)
The answer arrived in a discussion about the military. It was clear that neither my daughter nor any of her friends wanted to give the government the power to draft them. Understandably they linked ratification of the ERA with drafting ability. The truth is that Congress today has the power to draft women and barriers to their participation in combat are falling.
2016 women made up 14.6% of our active duty military, 19.5% of the Reserves, 15.5% of the National Guard and there are two million women veterans*. The truth is our women in the military face discrimination in promotions, pay, housing, spousal benefits, medical care and job assignments.
The reporting of rape up the chain of command instead of reporting to a neutral source keeps women physically dominated. Both military and civil courts allow discrimination against women in the trial process. Not having the ERA becomes a liability for all women as more and more women go to war for the United States with an entrenched system that normalizes the denial of their full equality under the law.
96% of US adults believe that women and men should have equal rights under the law.** As this picture came into focus my daughter and her friends began to understand the importance of putting pressure on the politicians to take them seriously and ratify the ERA. They are all working in their communities to have their voices heard and changes made for the betterment of both women and men.
In 1972, the ERA passed in both chambers of Congress and was sent to the 50 states for ratification. 35 states ratified the ERA, three states short of the 38 needed before the 1982 deadline. March 22, 2017 Nevada became the 36th State to ratify the ERA.
Of the remaining 14 unratified states, two more states must ratify for the ERA to meet the 38-state requirement specified in the US Constitution.
The 14 states failing to ratify the ERA include: Arizona, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah and Virginia.
Please check if you are living in a state that has not yet ratified. Residents in the unratified states need to demand that their legislators put the ERA front and center of the legislative agendas!!
In addition everyone needs to contact their lawmakers on Capitol Hill and speak up for urgent action on removing the unjust ratification deadline. (H. J. Res. 53 & S.J. Res. 5)
It is time for the United States to empower all of its citizens as equals with the right to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.
(*Statistic Brain - http://bit.ly/2nU7GWe)
(**ERA Task Force http://bit.ly/2nB8e1h)
Visit ERAAction.org for an overview and updates on ERA legislation.
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