Wednesday, May 27, 2020
Carrie Baker, Ms., Reports of the ERA's Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated
This is the final installment in a six-part series examining the half-century fight to add women to the U.S. Constitution—and a game plan on where we go from here.
Get caught up:
- Part 1: “We Want In!,”
- Part 2: A Long History of Obstruction, Delay and Trickery
- Part 3: A Patchwork of Laws, Statutes and Court Rulings
- Part 4: From Addressing the Wage Gap to Combatting Violence Against Women, We Still Need an Equal Rights Amendment
- Part 5: Where We Go From Here
But today, despite resistance from Republicans in Congress and from the Trump administration, public support for the ERA is currently sky-high: The American Bar Association’s (ABA) 2020 Survey of Civic Literacy showed that a wide majority of respondents—83 percent—believe the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) should be ratified and incorporated into the U.S. Constitution. Only 8 percent opposed.
“That’s a powerful statement about what the public believes in,” said ABA president Judy Perry Martinez, for it “tells us is that Americans believe in equal rights for women and they know that until those words are in our Constitution, those equal rights will not in fact be believed and achieved by all.”
But, just like in the initial push for the ERA in the 1970s, opposition from business interests, especially the insurance industry, are ERA enemy number one.
“‘Women’s equality’ is not just words,” Smeal says. “It means real things, especially in the area of money. It means you have to stop discriminating against women in employment and in annuities, life insurance and health insurance. It involves billions and billions of dollars.”
Of course, earlier this year, under the leadership of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the House of Representatives voted to remove the arbitrary time line for the ERA with a bipartisan 232–183 vote.
“With this resolution, we take a giant step toward equality for women, progress for families and a stronger America—because we know when women succeed, America succeeds,” Pelosi said at a press conference ahead of the vote.
Meaning this fall, all eyes will be on the Senate.