Senate Democrats Bemoan Another ERA Failure

ERA Failure
Participant to the Women's March event holds a "Pass the Equal Rights Amendment" sign | Image by Sundry Photography/Shutterstock

Senate Democrats are expressing their frustration after a vote introduced by the Senate Majority Leader to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment failed 51-47 last week.

The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was first introduced to Congress in 1923 but did not pass until 1972.

The Constitutional amendment, which requires three-quarters of all fifty states to be adopted, only reached 35 states in 1982, the amendment’s ratification deadline.

The deadline was previously 1978 before Congress extended it to 1982.

Since 1982, three additional states have ratified the amendment, providing requisite support for it to be added to the Constitution.

Senate Democrats hoped to extend that deadline again, automatically triggering ratification by removing the deadline.

Senate Republicans, with the exception of Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Susan Collins (R-ME), voted in unison to deny the measure the sixty votes needed for ratification.

The amendment’s language, passed by Congress in 1972, is a straightforward statement of gender equality broken into three sections.

“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.”

Despite the simplicity of the language, conservatives have long considered it to be a legal trojan horse.

The late activist Phyllis Schlafly, founder of the conservative volunteer organization Eagle Forum, fought its ratification in the 1970s.

Schlafly viewed the amendment as a feminist assault on human nature.

“Feminism is doomed to failure because it is based on an attempt to repeal and restructure human nature,” said Schlafly at the time.

Emma Waters, a research associate in the Richard and Helen DeVos Center for Life, Religion and Family at The Heritage Foundation, continues to warn about the unintended legal consequences of the ERA.

“The ERA is a Trojan horse for each generations’ Expansive, Radical Agenda. Under the guise of women’s rights, its broad language opens the door for abortion on demand, LGBTQ rights, and laws that no longer protect women from the selective service draft, pregnancy discrimination, and more,” Waters told The Dallas Express.

Congressional Democrats, however, argue the amendment is an overdue protection of equal gender rights.

Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) said Republicans are trying to twist the intent of the amendment: “It’s a shame that Republicans blocked the Equal Rights Amendment from becoming law today. They can twist it however they wish, but it’s fact: Republicans voted against explicitly including women’s equality in our Constitution.”

Senator and former presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) said the amendment’s failure marked a new era for feminism in the Senate: “This is not the end, this is the beginning of a new generation pushing for their equal rights.”

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