“There is only one group, as you well know, against whom laws can still be passed patently depriving American citizens of their civil and human rights and that is women.” —President Jimmy Carter
President Carter spoke those words in 1980, and they are still true in 2022. Still true even though 38 states have now ratified it. Even though the House has passed House Joint Resolution 17 to remove the time limit for ratification. Even though the Senate version: Senate Joint Resolution 1, has 51 co-sponsors (including two Republicans and the Filibuster Twins Manchin and Sinema). Even though SJR1 has been in the Senate for consideration since last Women’s History Month. Equality of rights under the law can still be abridged on account of sex.
A year seems like a long time, but the ERA’s journey really began at Seneca Falls in 1848. The suffragists that met there knew that the vote, while necessary, was never going to be sufficient to give women full citizenship. According to the Alice Paul Institute website the original ERA was written by Alice Stokes Paul only three years after the 19th Amendment gave women the vote nationwide. The mother of the ERA died in 1977, never seeing ratification—just as Susan B. Anthony and Lucretia Mott died before ever casting a legal vote.
This is a cross-generational relay race. We must never give up. Absent the Amendment, any gains that women make can and will be erased by a shift in the political winds. For more information see: www.equalrightsamendment.org.