Country should support Equal Rights Amendment

Virginia 38th state to ratify ERA

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Country should support Equal Rights Amendment

Samantha Klepfer

The Equal Rights Amendment was introduced to Congress by Alice Paul in 1923, according to the Washington Post. Almost a hundred years later, the debate over the ratification of the amendment still rages. The fact that equal rights are still hotly debated in 2020 is disappointing, to say the least.

Virginia began its legislative process Jan. 8 to decide whether or not to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), and a decision was made a week later to officially ratify it. This vote means the ERA is now officially ratified by 38 states, the number required to add the amendment to the Constitution. 

However, there are a few complications. First, five states have rescinded their ratification of the ERA since they voted on it in the mid-90s. Those states include South Dakota, Tennessee, Kentucky, Idaho, and Nebraska, according to the Washington Post. This rescindment is controversial because, as many proponents of the ERA argue, it isn’t exactly allowed to rescind ratification.

The second issue with the amendment is that the deadline proposed by Congress to ratify it was in 1982. The Office of Legal Aid has declared the movement to ratify the ERA as expired, meaning Virginia’s vote wouldn’t matter.

Minnesota is one of the 37 states who have ratified the amendment, according to the ERA’s website. As the 25th state to ratify the federal amendment, Minnesota also voted on an ERA within the state government March 7, 2019. The bill has to be heard by the Minnesota Senate before November 2020 in order to be included in the Nov. 3 ballot.

There are also three states who have sued the National Archivist – the person who would officially add the amendment to the Constitution – saying the amendment cannot legally be added, according to NPR

Virginia’s ratification after all of this may seem worthless but, in fact, it isn’t. Though there may be a greater process to actually get the ERA into the Constitution, just the simple act of ratifying it says that Virginia believes in equal rights for Americans, no matter their sex. This is a huge step in making women feel as though they are cared for and important to the Virginian government.

The three states that have since rescinded their ratification have said essentially the opposite; that, though thought they cared about women’s rights, they’ve since decided they do not. 

What is most frustrating about the entire situation is that the ERA is three sentences long. It is a very simple amendment. According to the ERA’s website, the amendment states:

“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.”

These statements are extremely simple and basic. One of them doesn’t even have anything to do with the content of the ERA, just the date it will take effect. Our country is having trouble agreeing on two sentences. 

This is an absurd amendment to be so worked up over. The fact that the United States can’t agree on the simple constitutional acknowledgment of the equality of women to men is ridiculous. There are some arguments that the amendment could open the door to further abortion freedoms, something our country is torn over. This likely would not happen, however, considering the current conservative makeup of the courts, specifically the Supreme Court and the amount of interpretation the amendment allows for. 

I urge everyone to support this bill on the national or state level, as Minnesota will have a choice of supporting or renouncing this amendment when Congress decides whether or not to accept it or extend the deadline. Equal rights for women is such a simple, basic accomplishment that would cause little to no harm and great benefits.

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