The Equal Rights Amendment passes in Virginia

For years women have advocated for equal rights, but where in the Constitution does it say women and men are equal? The ERA (Equal Rrights Amendment) was proposed in the 1960s and was designed to guarantee equal rights to U.S. citizens regardless of sex. The amendment seeks to end the legal differences between men and women in matters such as property, divorce, and employment. Alice Paul and Crystal Eastman wrote the first version of the ERA and presented it to Congress in 1923. 

But there was also a push back not just by men, but groups of conservative women such as, Phyllis Schlafly, who thought equal rights would hurt housewives. Others felt as if there was no need for an equal rights amendment because women already had the right to vote. 

Due to recent years, the Me Too movement and fourth-wave feminism has helped revive the interest in getting the ERA ratified. In 2017, Nevada was the first state to ratify the ERA after both expiration dates and in the following year Illinois ratified it as well. 

On January 15, 2020, the Virginia General Assembly passed a ratification resolution in a 59-41 vote in the House and a 28-12 vote in the Senate. On January 27, the Senate voted again with a 27-12 vote, and in the House a 58-40 vote, which brought the ratifications to 38.

Section 1: Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the U.S. or by any state on the account of sex. 

Section 2: The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate leg legislation the provisions of this article.

Section 3: This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification. 

 

Why do you think it took the U.S. this long to be this close into ratifying an equal rights amendment?

Mrs. Emily Cook said, “I think maybe people have just implied the fact that it should be given, but it was probably since the majority hasn’t experienced marginalization.” Mr. Lee Brown said, “Change doesn’t come easy to many people, and I think some people would say the 14th amendment applies to women as well and they use that as an excuse to not make an equal rights amendment.” Mrs. Debra Brewster said, “I think we’ve just been really closed-minded and have not acknowledged that not everyone is like us, there are many more sexual orientations.” Mr. Jason Hayes said, “I think because it’s so broad in nature that once you got certain groups of people on board with one aspect, there was another aspect that other groups didn’t agree with.” Ms. Courtney Sheets said, “I think part of it is because more of the women’s movements in the 1960s and 70s people thought it accomplished a lot so the idea for the amendment died down, but I think the “Me Too” Movement has brought back attention to it.” Connor White (12) said, “I genuinely don’t know because if there’s no underlying clause it doesn’t make sense why it wouldn’t pass sooner in Congress.” Kayin Carson (12) said, “Change is slow, and I don’t agree with it taking this long, but it did at least for this.” Darrah Young (11) said, “Well for one, it hasn’t been brought to the attention of the right people, but also there’s more categories you could say that’s being discriminated against while previously it was just female, but now there are people who identify differently.” 

 

Do you think this will actually change anything socially or economically? 

“That’s hard to say, but it wouldn’t hurt.” Mrs. Cook said, “We all know we should do the right thing, but if we just say that then that’s just saying it, but if it’s the law then there will be consequences by not following it.” Mr. Brown said,”If the 14th amendment isn’t being enforced then the question comes would an additional amendment be enforced, but if nothing else it brings the problem to light.” Mrs. Brewster said, “I hope so, but I’m sure there will still be discrimination because we can’t change everybody.” Mr. Hayes said, “Not at first because I think it’ll be more of a celebratory thing, but as it becomes applicable to businesses and as it grows I think we’ll see big changes.” “I think it could definitely change things economically because a lot of people don’t believe there’s a wage gap between male and female workers and it could back up court cases as well,” Ms. Sheets said. “I don’t think so because it’s just a statement so the people who already oppose it will keep doing that and same for the ones who believe in it,” Connor said. “Probably not because even when it comes to something like the work place, they can always find an excuse to not give someone a job,” Kayin said. “It may change things economically because more people will be able to get jobs, but socially you can’t change people’s opinions just because it’s in the Constitution. 

 

Do you think it’s necessary to have an equal rights amendment added to the Constitution?

“Yes because I feel if we make it a legal matter then people will be more likely to follow it,” said Mrs. Cook. Mr. Brown said,”Yes I do think it’s necessary because even in the workplace you see men’s wages versus women’s wages and that shows there’s a big problem.” “Unfortunately, we do because people don’t know how to be decent,” Mrs. Brewster said. Coach Hayes said, “Not necessarily just because in 2020 I think it’s just everyone acting as a common sense measure, but adding this amendment would be a celebratory means to show the world that we’re united.” “I think it is necessary because even though women are treated better here compared to other places it doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be progress because there’s still discrimination based on sex.” Connor said, “Yeah I think so and some people think it’s not because they think when the Constitution refers to mankind it refers to all people, but I don’t think that’s necessarily true.” “Yeah it definitely should be added to the Constitution because all people are made equal,” Kayin said. Darrah said, “In the private sector it’s definitely going to affect some things, but in the public sector it won’t, and I don’t think it will be enforced as much as needed.”