The Equal Rights Amendment

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The Equal Rights Amendment Essay

What could be more important than the equality of rights for all American citizens? Women have tried without success for 80 years to be acknowledged as equals in our Constitution through an Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). Currently there is nothing in the United States Constitution that guarantees a woman the same rights as a man. The only equality women have with men is the right to vote. In order to protect women’s rights on the same level as men, I am in favor of an Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution today. There have been many determined women and organizations such as the NASWA and the NWP that have fought long and hard to gain the right to vote. Although it’s been a long battle to get this amendment approved, women today need to keep the fight alive in order to continue to win equality with men on all levels. The Equal Rights Amendment was first introduced to Congress in 1923, shortly after women in the United States were granted the right to vote. The amendment read “Men and Women shall have equal rights throughout the United States and in every place subject to its jurisdiction. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.” This amendment was immediately opposed by organizations and labor unions. The Amendment was continually introduced in Congress for the next twenty years with opposition from most conservatives ensuring its repeated defeat. In the 1930’s the amendment gained sponsorship from the National Association of Women’s Lawyers and the National Federal of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs. By 1940 the Republican Party had placed it on their platform with the Democratic Party following suit in 1944. Alice Paul rewrote the Equal Rights Amendment in 1943 to include the statement “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.” During this time the labor movement was still committed to protecting workplace laws and some conservatives thought equal rights for women would be a threat to the existing power structure. Even with the support of the two parties the ERA never came close to passing. Support for the bill increased during the 1950’s with President Eisenhower stating his support for “equal rights” for women. During the 1960’s women began to demand their right as citizens and persons, and the Equal Rights Amendment became a central issue. Organized labor and a large number of mainstream groups joined in the fight for an Equal Rights Amendment. Politicians began to react to the organized women’s groups in their campaign for votes. The Equal Rights Amendment finally passed and was approved by the U.S. Senate in March of 1972. It was then submitted to the state legislatures for ratification within seven years, but it was not ratified by the required 38 states. Although 30 states did approve the Amendment, within 1 year of the Senate’s approval, conservative religious and political organizations brought ratification to a standstill. These groups feared that the Amendment would deny women’s right to be supported by her husband, privacy rights would be overturned, women would be sent into combat, and abortion rights and homosexual marriages would be upheld. Opposition also surfaced from traditional groups. Some states began to postpone consideration of the amendment, and others proposed or passed rescission bills despite the verbiage in the amendment stating that states did not have the power to retract; only Congress did. As the seven year ratification deadline approached, ERA advocates appealed to Congress for an indefinite extension. Congress bowed to public pressure and granted an extension until 1982. During the 1980’s the political tide turned more conservative and the Republican Party removed ERA support from its platform. Although pro-ERA activities increased with lobbying, petitioning, rallies, fundraisers, White House...
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