By Elisabeth Gehl
Despite the gains women have made, women need a Constitutional guarantee to equality to prevent the many victories women have won over the past several decades being erased through Congressional legislative action. The Equal Rights Amendment was first unveiled in Seneca Falls, N.Y., in 1923 at the 75th anniversary of the 1848 Women’s Rights Convention. Congress passed the amendment in 1972, but it died a decade later because it failed to win ratification by three-fourths of the states within a pre-set time limit.
Since that time, federal lawmakers have attempted to revive the ERA by introducing bills that would amend the Constitution and require three-fourths of the states to approve the amendment, or through the introduction of a “three-state strategy” for ERA ratification.
A “three-state strategy” for ERA ratification was developed after the 27th (“Madison”) Amendment, originally passed by Congress in 1789, was added to the Constitution in 1992. Many ERA supporters contend that since a 203-year ratification period was accepted, the ERA’s ratification remains “sufficiently contemporaneous” as required. In extending the original deadline, Congress demonstrated that the ERA’s time limit is open to change and could therefore amend or repeal the time limit and affirm state ratifications which occurred after 1982, thereby keeping alive the 35 ratifications from 1972-1982.
This month Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) is keeping the “three-state strategy” effort moving forward by re-introducing a bill that would require only three more states to complete the ERA ratification process. Senator Ben Cardin’s office is sending out a Dear Colleague letter to recruit original co-sponsors of this legislation, and his office has asked that women’s organizations provide their endorsement of the legislation. BPW Foundation has added its name as a supporter of the “three-state strategy” bill, and will continue our strong support of seeing ERA ratification completed in this Congress. Let your Senator know that you want them to sign on as co-sponsors.