Equal Rights Amendment - Map and Text - Links -- Stan Klos Website
Equal Rights Amendment
1. Equality of Rights
under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or 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.
Alice Paul wrote: The Equal Rights Amendment in 1921 and was presented to
Congress each year until 1972. The Equal Rights Amendment was finally approved
by the full Senate 84-8 in 1972 but Senator Sam Ervin and Representative Emanuel
Celler succeeded in setting an time limit of seven years for ratification.
ERA was ratified by thirty-five states but failed formal
ratification as thirty-eight were needed by 1982.
National Organization For
Chronology of ERA 1923-1996
Courtesy of NOW
Three years after women won the right to vote, the
Equal Rights Amendment
(ERA) is introduced in Congress by Senator Curtis and Representative
Anthony, both Republicans. It is authored by Alice Paul, head of the National
Women's Party, who led the suffrage campaign. Anthony is the nephew of
suffragist Susan B. Anthony.
Through the efforts of Alice Paul, the Amendment is introduced into each
session of Congress.
Buried in committee in both Houses of Congress, the ERA awaits a hearing on
the floor. In 1946, it is narrowly defeated by the full
Senate, 38-35. In 1950, the ERA is passed by
the Senate with a rider that nullifies its equal protection aspects.
March 22: The Equal Rights Amendment is approved by the full Senate
without changes — 84-8. Senator Sam Ervin and Representative Emanuel Celler
succeed in setting an arbitrary time limit of seven years for ratification.
The newly founded National Conference for Puerto Rican Women endorses the
ERA, and the League of Women Voters agrees to
support it after years of opposition.
Phyllis Schafly establishes the National Committee to Stop ERA.
The ERA wins a powerful ally when the
AFL-CIO votes to endorse it in 1973.
Pressure from anti-ERA, right-wing groups begins to surface in state
legislatures. Indiana becomes the thirty-fifth state to ratify in 1977. NOW
chapters in unratified states are succeeding in electing pro-ERA candidates. But
instances of "turncoat voting" on the ERA are also surfacing.
At the first congressionally funded National Women's Conference in Houston,
Texas, 2,000 delegates from every state call for ratification of the ERA.
February: NOW publicizes the ERA boycott of unratified states and
gathers even more support for the Amendment. The number of pro-ERA groups grows
to more that 450, representing more than 50 million Americans.
March: NOW seeks an extension of the deadline for ERA ratification
with the argument that the Constitution imposes no time limit for ratification
of amendments. Further, the seven year provision of ERA is not a part of the
text of the amendment, but rather is only in the resolving clause. Congress has
the power to establish and change the time limit.
July 9: Alice Paul, ERA author, dies at age 92
October: Representative Elizabeth Holtzman introduces a bill calling
for an extension of the ERA deadline which had been March 22, 1979.
February: The NOW National Board declares a State of Emergency on the
ERA. It pledges full resources to winning the deadline extension and to ongoing
February-March: Missouri files suit on antitrust grounds against NOW,
claiming it violated the Sherman Antitrust Act by urging groups to boycott
unratified states and hold conventions only in ratified states.
July 9: NOW organizes ERA Extension March of 100,000-plus supporters
in Washington, D.C. This March for Equality is the largest in feminist history.
August 15: After intense lobbying by a united women's rights
coalition, the U.S. House of Representatives approves the ERA deadline
October 6: The U.S. Senate joins the House and approves extension by
a vote of 60-36. A new deadline of June 30, 1982 is set.
January-June: ERA opponents launch all-out attack by attempting to
pass rescission bills in at least a dozen states. Rescission bills are defeated
in 12 states.
February: Federal Judge Elmo Hunter rules in the ERA boycott case
that NOW's activities are protected by the
First Amendment and do not violate antitrust laws. This decision is later
upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals. The Supreme Court in late 1980 declines to
hear the case. The ERA Boycott is legal.
May: Legislators from Idaho, Arizona and Washington state file suit
in federal court challenging the constitutionality of the ERA extension and
seeking to validate a state's power to rescind a prior ratification. The case is
assigned to Judge Marion Callister, who at the time the litigation began (and 6
months after) held a high office (Regional Representative) in the hierarchy of
the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly known as the Mormon
Church. The Church officially and actively opposes the ERA and the ERA extension
and supports rescission.
May: NOW organizes 85,000 people to march in Chicago in support of
Illinois ratifying the ERA.
July: During platform hearings, the Republican Party reverses its 40
year tradition of support for ERA. NOW organizes 12,000 to march in Detroit at
the Republican Convention. The final Republican Platform officially takes no
position on ERA, but candidate Ronald Reagan and newly elected right-wing party
officials actively oppose the amendment.
August: The Democratic Party
reaffirms support for ERA and the ERA boycott. The Platform pledges to withhold
campaign funds and assistance from presidential candidates who do not support
November: Exit polls on election day show that for the first time
ever recorded, men and women vote quite differently in the race. AP/NBC News
reports that men backed Reagan by a 56- 36% edge, but women split their votes
47-45%. Pollsters later indicate that for women, the issue of women's rights and
ERA had a significant impact on their votes. By March 1981, leading pollsters
are claiming "Ronald Reagan has a woman problem" on ERA.
January: Ronald Reagan becomes the first U.S. President opposed to a
constitutional amendment which provides equal rights for women. NOW organizes
"ERA YES Inaugural Watch" where some 40,000 ERA supporters remind the new
President of the overwhelming pro-ERA sentiments in the nation.
April: NOW sends Feminist Missionaries to Utah, the heart of the
opposition to ERA, and the headquarters of the Mormon Church, to take the
message of the ERA directly to the Mormon people, door-to-door.
May: NOW files a $10 million lawsuit against the Attorney General of
Missouri charging that he intentionally injured NOW, the Equal Rights Amendment
campaign and the women's rights movement by suing NOW for its convention boycott
of states which have not ratified ERA.
June: NOW announces Betty Ford as Honorary Chair and Alan Alda as
Co-Chair of NOW's ERA Countdown Campaign activities.
June 30, 1981 NOW sponsors ERA Countdown Rallies in over 180 cities
to draw attention to the ERA deadline of June 30, 1982, and to dramatize the
wide support for the ERA.
October: NOW begins the first nationwide advertising campaign for
ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. The television spots focus on sex
discrimination and are designed to activate the vast majority of people who
support the ERA.
December: On the eve of the opening of crucial legislative sessions
in key unratified states, Judge Callister rules the ERA extension illegal and
rescission legal. This opinion marks the first time in this country's history
that an Act of Congress relating to the amending process was declared
unconstitutional by a federal court. NOW immediately appeals the ruling to the
Supreme Court and asks for an expedited hearing.
January: The Supreme Court, just 17 days after NOW appealed the
Callister ruling, vindicates NOW's position by entering a rarely granted
unanimous stay prohibiting the enforcement of Callister's decision and agreeing
to hear NOW's appeal on the merits of the case at a later date. This action
negates any legal effect of Callister's decision and removes the cloud of
confusion that the ruling had placed over the ratification debate in the states.
June 30: ERA is stopped three states short of ratification. ERA
supporters pledge "We'll Remember in November." An analysis of the ERA vote in
the four key targeted states, Florida, Illinois, North Carolina and Oklahoma,
shows the Republicans deserted ERA and Democratic support was not strong enough
to pass the amendment; the analysis makes clear that the single most obvious
problem was the gender and racial imbalance in the legislatures, with more than
2/3 of the women, all of the African Americans but less than 50% of the white
men in the targeted legislatures casting pro-ERA votes in 1982.
July: ERA is officially reintroduced in the United States Congress.
The U.S. House of Representatives fails to pass the ERA by a vote of 278 for
the ERA and 147 against the ERA, only 6 votes short of the required 2/3 majority
for passage. Fourteen cosponsors voted NO and three cosponsors did not vote.
Only 30% of the Republicans voted YES and 85% of the Democrats voted YES.
The ERA is reintroduced into each session of Congress and held in Committee.
NOW's Recent Work on ERA
At its national convention NOW passes a resolution calling for the formation
of two committees, one an ERA grassroots committee to survey the chapters and
states as to their members' current thinking about the direction the
organization should take concerning the ERA. The second committee (the
legislative history committee) is formed to study the history of the previous
amendment and the impact of state ERAs.
As activists begin to discuss what they want constitutional equality for
women and non-discrimination on the basis of sex to mean, interest grows and at
the annual conference in July 1994, an ERA Strategy Summit is called for the
purpose of developing recommended language for a new ERA. The membership
includes in the resolution that any proposed amendment must include the concepts
of reproductive rights including abortion and non-discrimination on the basis of
January: The ERA
Summit is attended by the national officers and board, the state presidents,
members of the ERA Strategy committee and interested activists to dicuss the
issue and draft language for a new ERA. At the ERA Summit, NOW President,
Patricia Ireland explains that
to achieve true equality a paradigm shift is needed. Under the equal protection
clause of the 14th Amendment, using a male rather than human standard, the
courts have been able to justify discrimination. Our goal of the summit is
defined as the need to construct an amendment and develop a strategy that would
end women's historic subordination to men and guarantee women full
July: NOW members, voting in conference, resolve to proceed with an
expanded constitutional amendment strategy that would eliminate discrimination
based on sex, race, sexual orientation, marital status, ethnicity, national
origin, color or indigence. Members also call for further study of age and
disability as classes to be included in the struggle for constitutional
The national Constitutional Equality Amendment (CEA) Committee continues to
evaluate the working draft of the CEA adopted at the
NOW Conference. The committee produces and distributes educational and
action organizing materials on the proposed amendment. In addition, the
committee plans day-long education and action organizing workshops to be held
throughout the country.
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