Equal rights amendment waits

An amendment granting equal rights regardless of sex is still being considered.

Women’s History Month just concluded several days ago, and, as if on cue, a new buzz is circling around the Equal Rights Amendment. A staple of women’s rights groups in the 1970s, the ERA would amend the Constitution to forbid discrimination based on sex. The amendment passed through Congress in 1972, but failed to secure the needed number of states to ratify it in the following decade. While it would be hard to argue that this amendment is absolutely necessary, its language certainly warrants a place in the constitution.

Since its first proposal, opponents have feared that gender “equality” will be distorted. Critics have proposed that the amendment will lead to the creation of unisex bathrooms and open the door for same-sex marriage.

It seems odd that we have the Fourteenth Amendment granting equal rights to slaves, but no amendment explicitly for females. In fact, the same amendment that granted rights to former slaves in the 1860s has been interpreted to give rights to women and other minority groups.

Opponents are readying themselves for another battle. This year the Congress has revived the proposed amendment, and several states are trying to ratify the original amendment (Constitutional scholars disagree on whether it is too late for the original amendment to be ratified).

Adding the equal rights amendment to the Constitution would not change our culture; women have been granted full rights through various court rulings and the interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment.

So it seems somewhat reasonable that opponents worry about adding extraneous language to the Constitution. One of the most significant aspects surrounding the reintroduction of the amendment is its power to incite important dialogues.

Where are we compared to 35 years ago? Are women completely equal? If women are truly equal in our society, then we should have nothing to fear about finally accepting the Equal Rights Amendment.