March is Women's History Month, when we celebrate the incredible women who have left lasting impressions on this country.
For example, we honor Alice Paul, renowned suffragist and architect of the final campaign for the 19th Amendment, which guaranteed women's right to vote in 1920, after decades of strife, including civil disobedience, imprisonment, and hunger strikes. Paul also authored the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) in 1923, which was finally passed in both houses of the U.S. Congress on March 22, 1972, and sent to the states for ratification with a 1982 deadline, by which the ERA was three states short of the number needed for ratification because of misrepresentations about its intent and impact. Missouri is one of the states that failed to ratify. Alice Paul died in 1977.
The ERA would provide a fundamental legal remedy against sex discrimination for both women and men. Without the ERA, the U.S. Constitution does not explicitly guarantee that rights are held equally without regard to sex. The first, and still the only, right specifically affirmed as equal for women and men is the right to vote.
The entire text of the ERA reads:
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.
ERA advocates are pursuing two different routes to ratification: the traditional process outlined in Article V of the U.S. Constitution, requiring passage by a two-thirds majority in the Senate and the House of Representatives, followed by ratification by legislatures in 38 of the 50 states; and ratification in three or more of the 15 state legislatures that did not ratify the ERA prior to 1982.
As your way of paying tribute to Women's History Month, please contact your legislators, both federal and state, and urge them to sign on as co-sponsors of the ERA and help achieve its passage. Missouri's U.S. senators are Claire McCaskill and Roy Blunt. You can find your U.S. representative by entering your zip code at house.gov/representatives/find, and your state senator and representative by entering your address at senate.mo.gov and house.mo.gov
Additional information about the ERA is available at equalrightsamendment.org
Without the ERA, the idea that we live in a democracy is a fallacy.