On this day in 1972, Congress first passed the Equal Rights Amendment; but all these years later, it's making headlines again. In this climate where communication between the people and their government is more crucial than ever, many citizens are wondering how to call your state representative or senator about the Equal Rights Amendment. There is a lengthy list of issues we want to discuss with our representatives — and here's yet another that deserves our attention, for a number of reasons.
Finding your state representative is easy, and there are a couple directions you could go in. You can head to House.gov and type in your zip code, and it'll give you your representative. You can then look up their phone number in the Directory of Representatives. Another option is to go to Senate.gov and choose your state, and it'll give you your senators and their contact phone numbers.
After its 1972 inception, the ERA was sent to the state level for ratification by both houses. 38 out of 50 states need to approve an amendment for it to officially become part of the Constitution. The deadline for approval of the ERA was June 30, 1982; however, it was three states short.
Many people believe that our Constitution guarantees equal rights for women; but it doesn't. And if there were ever a time when we need this promise of equality, it's right now. "We think we’re so enlightened and ahead of the curve and, frankly, we’re behind," says Rep. Jackie Speier, a California Democrat. Women in over 130 nations are guaranteed equal rights by their Constitutions, but we're not. People sort of forgot about the ERA in 1982, when not enough states ratified it; but the interest in it has been reinvigorated as of late, largely thanks to events like the Women's March on Washington and the Day Without a Woman strike. We're dealing with politicians in the current administration who think pregnant employees are a burden to their employers, sexual assault and harassment can be justified, women don't belong in leadership positions, and those who choose abortion should be punished. As Ryan Denson put it in the Eagle News, "The war on women is in full force, and Trump is at the reins." The ERA could help remedy these issues and finally put us on a more level ground with men.
Presently, lawmakers in Illinois, Virginia, and Nevada are bringing these issues and the ERA into the spotlight once again and moving to finally ratify the ERA. The actual text of it is relatively short, with Section 1 simply stating, "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex." North Las Vegas State Senator Pat Spearman believes it's high time the state ratifies it, saying that debating the ratification of the ERA "perpetuates the myth of patriarchal superiority. It normalizes misogyny and moderates the collective cognitive difference related to universal equality. I'm surprised the resolution has not already been adopted." Nevada's assembly approved it on Monday, and it's now been sent back to the Senate for the final OK.
Some fear the ERA will give women too much power, and potentially power over men; but that's not quite what the word "equal" means. Our Constitution does not promise rights to women (aside to vote); and in a time when we've got self-driving cars and robots replacing humans, it's probably appropriate to give living, breathing women equal rights.