The ERA failed to secure the ratification of the required 35 states by the 1982 deadline. Out of the 27 ratified Constitutional Amendments, only four had time limits imposed, with the most recent amendment taking 203 years before becoming law.
“‘Equality and Justice for All’ hangs above our Supreme Court and yet it does not pertain to any woman under the U.S. Constitution—queer or straight; that is, until the Equal Rights Amendment is ratified in the final three states needed,” explained Carolyn Cook of United 4 Equality. “The ERA will establish lesbians [and all women] as full citizens of the United States whose civil rights can no longer be breached by state or federal legislatures. With regard to female salaries, safety, and service in the 112th Congress alone, the Paycheck Fairness Act was defeated [and] the Violence Against Women Act had not been re-authorized.”
ERA proponents plan for two bills to be introduced in Washington, D.C., in March to eliminate the time limit retroactively, which would allow three more states to ratify to secure equal rights in the constitution for women.
In 2012, then Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin introduced her bill in the U.S. House of Representatives with Ben Cardin, D-Md., introducing his in the Senate. These bills must be re-introduced in 2013. At the time of writing, Cardin will be introducing them in the Senate. However, the House still needs a champion to introduce its bill now that Baldwin is a senator.
“Although Maryland ratified the ERA, Maryland must provide support to assure that Congress will eliminate the time limit, making way for three more states to ratify the ERA,” explained Baltimore NOW ERA Task Force Chair Marlene Adrian. Adrian urged Marylanders to thank Senator Cardin for his sponsorship and Senator Barbara Mikulski plus House Representative Elijah Cummings for their previous co-sponsorship. She asked that all constituents passionate about passing these pieces of legislation call their representatives in Congress and request support for the three state strategy.
The states that still have yet to ratify are: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, N. Carolina, Oklahoma, S. Carolina, Utah, and Virginia.
“The LGBTQ community uniquely understands the harmful effects of gender bias,” said Cook. “To ignore, underestimate, or retreat from this amendment to permanently protect all persons against discrimination on the basis of one’s sex is to squander progress, prosperity, and global peace.”
The text of the original ERA 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.”
“All the recent attacks by legislators, - Congressmen, and corporations on women’s reproductive and other rights would not have a legal standing if we passed the ERA,” said Adrian.