What is the Equal Rights Amendment? To put it simply, it is the natural extension of equal rights based on sex, similar to the extension of equal rights based on race. Doesn't sound very controversial, I mean women today are allowed to own property, have careers, participate in government, vote, etc. Why then would we need the Equal Rights Amendment? A not so long time ago, we were not allowed to vote, were excluded from participating in government, even today glass ceilings exist for women in society. We make up a little over half the population, but have never held either the office of President or Vice-President. It has only been in the last 30 years, women have been confirmed to the Supreme Court, and it wasn't until 2007 before a woman was voted in as Speaker of the House of Representatives.
When a man runs for political office, no one considers how his gender will affect his ability to represent the people; however, a woman is scrutinized for a myriad of reasons, unrelated to her ability to do the job, but directly related to the fact she is a woman. Recently in Iowa, an all-male Supreme Court ruling stated, a dentist acted legally when he fired an assistant he found irresistibly attractive. So apparently, through no fault of your own, if your boss can't control themselves you can be legally fired. It is for situations like this, which are really happening all across the country, the Equal Rights Amendment was originally proposed.
Many women today take for granted the way women are treated in our society today. I am engaged to a woman who doesn't vote, and I remind her frequently how we didn't have that right for 144 years; furthermore, it took 30 years for the Amendment to be Ratified after it was first introduced. This shows our society has a long and sordid history of discriminating against women. Unfortunately, the only way we will secure rights is by fighting for them.
Currently, a White House petition is available asking President Obama to Support and Advance the Equal Rights Amendment, originally introduced in 1972. The Amendment fell 3 states shy of ratification by 1982, when the deadline expired; however, legal experts have determined this deadline could be further extended to allow for additional ratification's. This approach has been termed, the three-state strategy.
The three-state strategy is a legal argument, stating the earlier 35 state ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment remain valid, and only 3 more states are needed for ratification, without congress resubmitting the Amendment to state lawmakers. Rescission's of earlier Ratification's were found to be unconstitutional. The deadline expiration is not without it's own precedent. Previously expired deadlines have been extended by congress on prior Amendments, as an example The Twenty-Seventh Amendment took more than 202 years to ratify.
The hope with this petition has been for President Obama to lobby congress and the states to extend the deadline or remove it, and to advocate for Ratification. Given the Election of 2012, the support women voters gave to the Obama Campaign, as well as the Presidents own record on woman's issues, with his support it is possible the Equal Rights Amendment will be successful. Maybe one day, in the distant future if the human race has not destroyed itself, issues such as equal rights will be a non-issue as humanity will assume that is the way it has always been. Until then, the only way we will secure equality is by fighting for it, every single day!