Women are not included in the U.S. Constitution except for the right to vote. For every legislative battle, we have to start all over again-and hard-won victories (such as Title IX) may be eroded when the makeup of Congress changes. One of the clearest examples of why we need bedrock constitutional protection is the persistence of gross pay inequities. Over the last several decades, women have averaged only around three-quarters of what men with the same education and the same jobs have earned.
The Equal Rights Amendment, first introduced in Congress in 1923, was approved by the House in 1971 and the Senate in 1972, with a seven-year deadline on ratification. The deadline was later extended to 10 years, but the ERA fell three states short of victory in 1982. Having failed to win 38 states by the deadline, we believed the amendment was dead and the process would have to begin again. _
But in 1992, a major development occurred that resurrected the original ERA. That year, the Madison Amendment concerning congressional pay raises won ratification after 203 years, reported the ERA campaign website (www.eracampaign.net). _The 27th Amendment’s incorporation into the Constitution after such a long delay signals the continuing viability of the ERA, especially as mention of a deadline is not included in the text of the amendment. _ERA supporters have now adopted the “three-state strategy,” an attempt to have three more states ratify the amendment and challenge the deadline. __
Let’s establish a network of individuals throughout the state to lobby our House members and senators regularly about ratifying the ERA and to recruit others to do so. If you are interested, please contact Roberta Madden.