While it's encouraging to think about all the progress in equal rights that has been made over the years, America can't forget that it has a long way to go. There have certainly been events in the last century that have provided hope for the future, but it's still an uphill climb. For example, the Equal Rights Amendment was passed 45 years ago. This should be a huge step in gaining equal rights for women, but the problem we face now in 2017 is reconciling the fact that the Equal Rights Amendment was never ratified.
On March 22 of 1972, the 27th Amendment to the Constitution was passed by the House and Senate, then sent to the states for ratification, with a seven-year deadline on the proposing clause. In order for a Constitutional Amendment to become law, it needed to pass ratification in 38 states. As of today, it has only passed in 36.
On Monday, Nevada finally ratified the ERA in the state, despite the deadline having passed decades ago. The state assembly voted 28-14 in favor. By now, the ratification is largely symbolic, but it's an important symbol to recognize the government's efforts to promote equal rights for men and women nationwide.
Nevada On Cusp Of Ratifying Equal Rights Amendment 35 Years After Deadline https://t.co/u8ZNIRNRL6— NPR (@NPR) March 21, 2017
As noted by the Los Angeles Times, two other states, Illinois and Virginia, have taken steps toward passing the amendment. However, both chambers in the states have not passed it, and therefore it has stalled. Interestingly, seven other states in 2017 set resolutions for ratification of the ERA: Utah, Arizona, Missouri, Virginia, Florida, and North Carolina. Unfortunately, these states contain at least one chamber controlled by Republicans, who may not pass the ERA.
It's very sad that there has been so much opposition to an amendment that would hold states legally responsible for providing equality to all genders. While there have been other legislative efforts that do similar things — such as the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, signed by former President Barack Obama — taking the step to ratify this amendment in all states would be a fantastic gesture of assurance that America is willing to treat women equally.
Instead, the tension on gender equality has only risen in recent years, and has culminated in activities of resistance. Events like the Women's March on Washington in January and A Day Without Women in March showed how many women support and are willing to fight for equal rights for all. Even if the ERA unfortunately never makes it into ratification, women will not give up that fight.