By Bernadette Cahill (originally appearing in the High Country Press, March 14, 2012)
Full ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), which would guarantee equality under the law on account of sex in the U.S. Constitution, will move another step closer on Thursday, March 22 when Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.) introduces in the Senate a resolution to remove the ratification deadline – and North Carolina’s senators could help make it happen if they sign on as sponsors.
Senator Cardin wrote last week to all his colleagues, including Senators Kay Hagan and Richard Burr of North Carolina, inviting them to become original co-sponsors of the measure.
Senator Kay Hagan said Wednesday, “I look forward to reviewing Senator Cardin’s legislation. I have always been a strong supporter of women’s rights; and as a mother of two daughters and North Carolina’s only woman Senator, I will continue to fight for the fair, equal and just treatment of women everywhere.”
High Country Press is awaiting a response regarding Senator Burr’s intentions.
Already, Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), chairman of the senate judiciary committee, is joining Senator Cardin as an original co-sponsor. Senators Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) have also signed on as original co-sponsors.
Full ratification of the ERA depends on both houses of the U.S. Congress approving a resolution that would remove the deadline from the original ERA resolution. That deadline put the ERA into limbo in 1982 with only 35 states having ratified. Ratification of 38 states is required for an amendment to become part of the Constitution.
Removal of the deadline would also remove current objections at state level to ratification of the ERA, whose original resolution included a deadline of seven years, later extended to ten. March 22 is the 40th anniversary of passage by the Senate of the joint resolution to extend the ERA ratification original timeline. Fifteen states have not yet ratified, including North Carolina.
Senator Cardin’s resolution is the companion to H.J. Resolution 47 of Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) to remove the deadline from the original 1972 ERA resolution. Rep. Baldwin introduced her measure in the House in March, 2011.
United4Equality of Washington, D.C. devised the deadline-removal strategy and numerous women’s groups have endorsed it.
Roberta Madden and Nancy Glowacki of the Black Mountain-based Equal Rights Amendment North Carolina Citizens Task Force are lobbying Senators Hagan and Burr to sign on to the measure as original co-sponsors and they call on all North Carolinians who care about equal rights on account of sex to join them in their efforts.
Senator Hagan’s Washington phone number is 202-224-6342. Senator Burr’s number is 202-224-3154.
For the Equal Rights Amendment North Carolina Citizens Task Force click to www.era-nc.org.