The Equal Rights Amendment is a proposed, unratified Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.  "Equality of rights under the law shall not be abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex." Section 1, ERA


Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification


Equal rights under law is an old idea, but the full application of that idea has been resisted.  In the United States, support for acknowledging equal rights based on gender has waxed and waned, and some States have extended equality of sexes while other States and the Federal Government have not.  Efforts to extend legal and civil equality to women by formal Amendment to the US Constitution were particularly strong in the post-Civil War period, and the Progressive Period which saw passage of the 19th Amendment, which guaranteed Women the right to vote, but in both cases, proponents were unable to persuade Congress to act.

In March of 1972, the Senate of the United States, approved the Amendment which had been proposed in 1923, President James Earl Carter signed the proposal, and the proposed Amendment was sent the Amendment to the States for ratification.

The time period proposed for ratification of the Amendment expired in 1979, when only 31 of the 35 States necessary had voted for ratification.  It remains unclear whether ratification could be revived.  Yet, some States did adopt the provisions of the Amendment, and it may be in force in some jurisdictions.

Partisan Support

In the 1940's both major Parties included support for the ERA in their platforms. 

Proposal of the ERA drew considerable conservative opposition, and Conservative organizers, such as Phyllis Schlafly, were able to combine this conservative resistance with reactionary opposition to abortion rights, to make opposition to women's rights one of the defining characteristics of American conservatism. In 1980, The Republican Party withdrew their support for the ERA, and have been increasingly hostile to women's rights ever since.

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