#TimesUp: Extend the ERA deadline and pass it!

On Tuesday night, I attended a screening of the movie “Equal Means Equal,” a documentary about the failure of the United States Constitution to address and guarantee equality for women. The screening was sponsored by MoCo Women.

The US Constitution became effective on March 4, 1789 and yet, as “Equal Means Equal” reminds us, this seminal document has no provision guaranteeing gender equality.

How many of us realized that in January 2017, when thousands of women marched in Washington and cities around the world? Soon thereafter, US Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland joined with other Senate Democrats to reintroduce the Equal Rights Amendment.

“Many Americans would be shocked to find out that the US Constitution still lacks a provision ensuring gender equality,” the Maryland Democrat said in a statement at that time. “Think about that: in 2017, women lack the same constitutional protections as men. This is clearly wrong and needs permanent correction.”

The 28th amendment would guarantee that “equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”

Congress originally approved the amendment in 1972 and set a seven-year deadline for ratification.

In an early battle of the modern-day culture wars, opponents argued that the amendment would upset traditional gender roles and subject women to the military draft.

Thirty-five states, including Maryland, ratified the amendment, but that was still three states short of the 38 required for passage. Attempts in recent years to revive the ERA – by reintroducing it or extending the deadline – have been unsuccessful.

“America was built on the promise of equal rights,” Cardin said. “It’s long past time for us to recognize the equality of women in the foundational document of our nation.”

Maryland added language similar to the Equal Rights Amendment to the Declaration of Rights in the state constitution in 1972: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be abridged or denied because of sex.”

In this age of #MeToo and #TimesUp, I submit that TIME IS UP on denying the women of the United States of America their equal rights. This lack of protection affects us in so many ways – too many to mention here.  Both women and men need to work with our Congressional and state representatives, the National Organization for Women (NOW), and other groups to finally bring about the passage of the ERA!