Equal Rights Amendment
Congresswoman Maloney is the leader in Congress of the effort to pass an Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution. Among these rights is the right to equal pay for equal work, an issue which Congresswoman Maloney has lead the fight on during her time in Congress.
Many people today take for granted that equal rights between men and women are enshrined in the U.S. Constitution – and are shocked when they learn that they are not. To this day, the right to vote is the only right guaranteed to women in the constitution, even though women make up more than 50% of the population.
The ERA passed Congress in 1972, and was sent to the states for ratification. Unfortunately, by the time the deadline passed in 1982, the ERA was just three states shy of the thirty-eight necessary.
Women have made incredible progress in the past thirty-five years, but unfortunately judicial attitudes can shift, and Congress can repeal existing laws with a simple majority vote. In recent years, there have been efforts to roll back women’s rights in education, health, employment, and even domestic violence. As the great suffragist and author of the ERA Alice Paul said: “We shall not be safe until the principle of equal rights is written into the framework of our government.”
The ERA is a constitutional amendment which would prohibit denying or abridging equal rights under law by the United States or any state on account of sex. This critical amendment would guarantee the equal rights of men and women by:
- Make sex a suspect category subject to strict judicial scrutiny, clarifying the legal status of sex discrimination for the courts. This would prohibit sexual discrimination in the same way we have prohibited discrimination on the basis of race, religion, and national origin.
- Guaranteeing equal footing for women in the legal systems of all 50 states.
- Ensuring that government programs and federal resources benefit men and women equally.
Why we need the ERA:
- An ERA will give all citizens the opportunity to reach their full potential. Women and men must have equal rights for a democracy to thrive.
- An ERA will put women on equal footing in the legal systems of all 50 states, particularly in areas where women have historically been treated as second-class citizens, including in cases of public education, divorce, child custody, domestic violence, and sexual assault.
- Women are still not receiving equal pay for equal work. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, women on average earn only 78 cents for every dollar earned by a man.
- Passing an ERA will put the full weight of the U.S. Constitution behind employment laws relating to the prevention of sex discrimination in hiring, firing, promotions, and benefits – especially in the public sector.
- An ERA will eliminate sex discrimination in the armed services and ensure that government programs, such as Social Security, do not have a disparate negative impact on women.
- Pregnancy discrimination continues to be prevalent in the workforce. An ERA can protect women from being harmed by a policy simply because she is a woman.
- The 14th amendment is not enough. Only an ERA would provide for gender equity and offer an “overriding guarantee” of equal protection for women.
- Women’s progress can be all too easily rolled back. Laws can be repealed and judicial attitudes can shift. Supreme Court Justice Scalia has even said that the Constitution does not protect against discrimination on the basis of gender.
- An ERA will ensure that the rights of American women and girls will not be diminished by any Congress or any political trend, but instead be preserved as basic rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.
- An ERA would help promote equal pay for women in the country.
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Photo Credit Phi Nguyen