Equality/Women’s Rights

USA Could Be Just 3 States Away from ERA

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Celebrations of Women's Equality Day are getting a little empty without passage of an ERA, says Bernadette Cahill. With a bit of help from Obama we could be just three states away. Join United 4 Equality and help pass HJ Resolution 47!

(WOMENSENEWS)--Nearly a century ago, women campaigning for the vote stood in the freezing snow, the blazing sun and the pelting rain outside the White House silently holding banners asking, "Mr. President, How Long Must Women Wait for Liberty?"

Now, as Women's Equality Day rolls around yet again tomorrow--celebrating 91 years of U.S. women's right to vote--the message of those banners needs resurrecting, but with a modern twist.

They should read: "Mr. President, How Long Must Women Wait for Equality?"

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If President Barack Obama would get behind House Joint Resolution 47, his answer to us all could be: "Not long at all."

Rep. Tammy Baldwin, a Wisconsin Democrat, chose the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day to introduce the resolution last March. It seeks to remove the deadline from the original 1972 bill on the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) that passed both houses of Congress and was ratified by 35 states before the deadline expired in 1982.

The deadline was not part of the original ERA and by 1982 it had already been extended by three years.

HJ Resolution 47 would require passage by a simple majority of both houses.

After that, ERA ratification would need only three more states.

Those votes could come from any of these holdouts: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah and Virginia.

The ERA states: Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of sex. In 2011, it's hard to think what lawmakers in these states should find controversial about that.

Carolyn Cook is founder and CEO of United 4 Equality, the Washington group that devised the HJ Resolution 47 strategy of removing the deadline. Cook and her colleagues worked on it for three years and they aim to have the final three states ratified by 2015.

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Justice Scalia's words may have harmed women's advancement; you can be sure that many men were listening to him. Let us hope that USA women are not left with 19th century mens' ideas about women. One thing about American women, they fight on, regardless of setbacks.