One of the first issues of legislation that will face Congress in 2021 is the ERA. Last winter Virginia gained the dubious distinction of being the 38th state to pass the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). Now it will go to our national House of Representatives and Senate.
Just what is ERA? What does it say?
SECTION 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.
SECTION 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
SECTION 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.
How will women’s rights be affected by the ERA? Proponents claim it will strengthen the legal basis for combating violence against women, pay inequality and maternity leave. They say that America has not truly established equality in our society. The laws enacted are not sufficient to protect against sex discrimination. Opponents claim enough laws are on the books to protect women’s rights. ERA will open the door to unlimited abortion because it will be considered a woman’s right.
Attempts to ratify ERA have been on-going. Passed by Congress in 1972, ERA required that three-quarters of the states approve it to become an amendment to the United States Constitution. Congress set a seven-year deadline to 1979 for ratification. State after state approved ERA, until anti-feminists spearheaded by Phyllis Schlafly championed the real rights of women. She predicted that ERA would lead to gender-neutral bathrooms and women being drafted into the military. Those happened without ERA!! ERA would also take away other rights women currently enjoyed such as the right to be in the home as a wife and mother.
Schlafly’s crusade against ERA slowed states’ rush to approve it and 1979 came and went without ratification. Congress extended the deadline to 1982 and when it arrived, just 35 states had passed the amendment. Three more states would have been necessary for ratification, so the ERA was ‘killed’
What are the origins of ERA? After Amendment 19 was ratified in 1920 that gave women the right to vote, the National Woman’s Party promoted the issue of women’s equality. They proposed the ERA. It failed to gain momentum until the second wave of women’s rights were part of the civil rights movement of the 60s. Ultimately failing ratification by just three states’ vote, now the recently formed ERA Coalition believes it will still be ratified.
In 2017, Nevada ratified ERA, followed by Illinois in 2018 and now, Virginia in 2020. The last three states needed for the three-fourths majority have been met, but 39 years too late! Now it will be an issue before the United States Congress when it convenes in 2021. Proponents of ERA claim that the deadline was not part of the amendment itself and the Constitution does not set deadlines for amendment ratification. They claim current legislators can alter the time frame.
This year SCOTUS handed down a decision that broadened the definition of ‘sex’ to include not just biological birth gender, but the chosen identity of an individual. ERA interpreted will give equal rights to everyone claiming any gender. It’s gone way beyond feminism and women’s rights. Foreseeably, law suits will ensue if ERA is ratified.
What are reasons not to ratify ERA? Nine were cited by the Illinois Family Organization:
- The ERA is NOT about equal rights for women.
- It contradicts years of study that confirm men and women are different. ERA will remove all legal distinctions between them. ERA does not mention ‘women.’
- It’s been rejected time and again by past legislators who perceived its dangers.
- Even with time extensions, ERA failed to meet the deadline.
- SCOTUS Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg says ERA will change 800 federal laws including the elimination of social security benefits for wives and widows.
- It will force women into combat.
- It will eliminate child support by relieving fathers of their primary responsibility to support even infant children.
- It invalidates legal privacy protections, so that transgender individuals will use restrooms, locker rooms, and dressing rooms designated for the opposite sex.
- It gives even more power to the Federal Government by stating that Congress has the power to enforce the provisions of ERA. Areas affected include marriage, property laws, divorce and alimony, child custody, adoptions, abortion, sex crimes, private and public schools, prison regulations, and insurance (https://illinoisfamily.org/marriage/nine-reasons-to-reject-equal-rights-amendment/.
Virginia candidates for Congress and the Senate from NOVA have been surveyed about their stand on specific issues. ERA is one of them. Watch this site for the survey comparisons between candidates once their opinions have been tallied. Knowing their stand on issues like ERA can help you decide for whom you will vote.
- ERA Consequences Factsheet written by Robert G. “Delegate Bob” Marshall.
- DO YOU WANT TO KNOW WHERE THE CANDIDATES STAND? contains a list of the questions in our candidate survey questionnaires. The survey of candidates for Congress asks candidates if they would support or oppose: “Eliminate the 1982 deadline to ratify the 1972 “Equal Rights Amendment.””
— Posted by Tom Salmon for Doris, a fellow member of the Prince William and Manassas Family Alliance