By Dr. Christine C. Ganis, AAUW Program Chair
The Sandhills Branch of the American Association of University Women offered a free public workshop, “To Form a More Perfect Union: Now is the Time for the Equal Rights Amendment“ on November 14 at the Southern Pines Civic Club.
Workshop presenters were Roberta Madden, from Black Mountain, and Nancy Glowacki, from Henderson, co-founders of RATIFY ERA – NC, who described the ERA as “bedrock protection” which would provide for basic human rights not to be eroded by changing administrations or political climates in each state over time.
The Equal Rights Amendment simply states, “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.” The ERA was passed by Congress in 1972 and sent to the states for ratification. Approval by the legislatures of 38 states (three quarters of the 50 states) is required to make an amendment part of the Constitution. In the next five years, 35 states approved the measure, three states short of the congressionally imposed deadline of 1982.
However, in 1992, proponents came up with a “three state strategy,” arguing that Congress can alter time limits for ratification, just as they can establish arbitrary expiration dates. For instance, precedent allowed for a congressional pay raise 203 years after Congress began the ratification process on that issue. Legal analysis supports the premise that if three more states ratify, the existing 35 state ratifications achieved already remain valid. Once one more state, such as North Carolina, ratifies the ERA, that state would become the new “ground zero” for a test case in the Supreme Court
As women’s participation in the public arena increases both statewide and nationally, and regardless of party affiliation, women are intensifying their efforts for inclusion. Due to the enthusiasm over the topic, with its overarching significance, a local coalition of interested groups is being considered. Contact Alice Shaughnessy, AAUW President, at email@example.com or Dr. Christine Ganis, AAUW Program Chair, at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested.