From 1920 until today: Gender equality is not yet in the Constitution

 Washington, .- It has been 96 years since it was proposed in 1923 but the amendment that guarantees equal rights between men and women is not yet part of the Constitution, because despite the fact that Congress approved it in 1972, it still needs the good of one more state, apart from the 37 that have done it.

After lawmakers endorsed the Equal Rights Amendment almost 50 years ago, the failure of the next step prevented the world’s oldest modern constitution from explicitly recognizing gender equality:
It has not yet been ratified by the 38 states necessary for it to be included in the Magna Carta.

The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) protects legal equality between the sexes and prohibits discrimination based on sex.

It was written in 1923 by Alice Paul and Crystal Eastman, two feminist activists who led the campaign for American women’s suffrage in 1920.
Its content is clear: “Equal rights before the law can not be denied or restricted by the United States or by any state for reasons of sex.”

The Congress did not accept it and fell into oblivion, until the momentum of the Second Feminist Wave (1960-1980) revived its interest. Then, Martha Griffiths, activist and Democratic representative of Michigan, presented her again before the House of Representatives, where she won a vote in 1971.

The following year the Senate also approved the amendment and sent it to state congresses with the requirement that it be ratified by 38 states before 1982 to be included in the Constitution.

In fact, 22 states ratified it that same year; the first was Hawaii and the last California. Then more were added but only 35 arrived on time.

In the mid-1970s a conservative movement against feminism eroded support for this proposal with the argument that it would destroy the traditional family and strip women of “privileges” such as the benefits derived from being a “dependent wife” in Social Security, have separate bathrooms, or be exempt from mandatory military recruitment.

One of the main opponents to this measure was the conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly, who organized the campaign “STOP ERA”, whose emblem was that slogan inscribed in a stop sign.
In Illinois, for example, activists against the amendment used the “traditional” symbols of the American housewife and brought home-made foods such as bread, jams and apple pies to their representatives.

Not explicitly The only right to equality specified in the Constitution is that of the vote. The 19th Amendment, passed in 1920, stipulates that the right of citizens to vote “shall not be denied or impaired by the United States, or by any state, for reasons of sex.”
The 14th amendment also states that “no US state

any person within its jurisdiction may deny equal rights protection “but does not mention anything about sex or gender and some legislators insist that it does not go so far as to avoid unequal treatment on the grounds of sex, particularly in cases of violence against women, sexual harassment and wage inequality.

After several decades, some state congresses have begun to ratify the amendment even though it is already late. In 2017 Nevada did and in 2018 Illinois followed the initiative, being the 37th of the 38 required.

Last January, Virginia was on the verge of becoming the last territory to complete the 38 required, but finally did not gather the necessary votes in the state congress.

This week Arkansas also took the step to become the last state to ratify the norm, but it also failed.
Even so, in case any of the next attempts to ratify the amendment is successful, now it would be to see what happens with the time imposed to do so before 1982.

That requirement could be revoked or annulled, an effort that the current Congress, with more women legislators than ever, would be more willing to do for an amendment that is still claimed almost a century later.


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