In 2021, women and men are already legally equal. Amending the Constitution to require that they always be treated the same will backfire on women and girls.
Washington, D.C.—Independent Women’s Voice (IWV) opposes recent efforts to revive the nearly 50-year-old Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), which would alter the U.S. Constitution to require that men and women be treated, not just equally (as the law currently requires), but the same in all circumstances.
The ERA was first introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1971. In 1972, after passing both chambers of Congress, it was sent to the States for ratification within seven years. When the deadline expired in 1979, the ERA died having failed to garner the approval of 38 states as required by Article V of the Constitution.
H.J. Res. 17, sponsored by Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA), seeks retroactively to “remove” the deadline placed on the original ERA ratification process. H.J. Res. 28, sponsored by Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) and Congressman Tom Reed (R-NY), would restart the amendment ratification process from the beginning.
IWV opposes both of these measures.
When the House first approved the ERA in 1971, it was not unlawful for the government to discriminate on the basis of sex. But in 2021, American women enjoy full legal equality with men. Men and women share all of the same basic constitutional rights, including the right to free expression, the right to worship, the right to bear arms, the right to due process, and the right to be free of unfair government discrimination and to receive the equal protection of the law. Numerous federal and state laws today also prohibit both private and public sex discrimination.
Adding the ERA to the Constitution today is not only unnecessary, but dangerous. Adopting the ERA now would do more than require legal equality, it would require that the government treat males and females the same—regardless of circumstances or actual differences. It would, thereby, eliminate the ability of the law to recognize biological sex differences, even in circumstances when failing to acknowledge those differences would limit opportunities for women and girls, or even place them in harm’s way.
This would be a disaster for the women and girls of America.
“There are hundreds, if not thousands, of laws that currently recognize the differences between the sexes, allowing women and girls to protect their privacy, sex-segregated spaces, and opportunities,” said Inez Stepman, senior policy analyst at IWV. “The ERA could force the integration of men into women’s shelters, into women’s sports teams at public universities, or even into bathrooms and locker rooms in public schools. It could force women to be drafted into combat alongside men, and it could eviscerate programs aimed at providing opportunities for women and girls, including STEM grants and athletic scholarships. The ERA hijacks the meaning of true equality and replaces it with a rigid, sex-blind regime that will be a catastrophe for women.”
Jennifer C. Braceras, director of Independent Women’s Law Center, added, “The ERA is dead and cannot be resurrected by an Act of Congress. Retroactively changing the deadline for ratification, without giving the states a fresh chance to debate and weigh in on the matter, violates Article V, which requires relatively contemporaneous approval by two thirds of the States before an amendment becomes part of our governing charter. H.J. Res. 17 illegitimately short-circuits the constitutionally-mandated ratification process and would deprive the American people of their right to fully consider the ramifications of altering the highest law of the land.”
For more information, contact Meghan Agostinelli at [email protected].
Independent Women’s Voice fights for women by expanding support for policy solutions that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance freedom, opportunities, and well-being.
Independent Women’s Law Center advocates for equal opportunity, individual liberty, and respect for the American constitutional order.