The ABA has long fought for gender equality, but the ever-allusive Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) has consistently been out of reach. The proposed constitutional amendment would assure that gender equality is recognized as a fundamental, irrevocable right protected by the highest law of the land. The key section of the amendment states, “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of sex.”
A constitutional amendment must pass both the House and Senate by a two-thirds majority vote and be ratified by three-fourths, or 38 of the 50 states, before it becomes part of the Constitution. In addition to these requirements, Congress included a seven-year deadline for ratification in the 1972 authorizing resolution transmitting it to the states. Congress later extended that deadline to 1982. Even with the extension, however, only 35 states ratified the amendment on time. As a result, efforts to advance the ERA all but halted until this past decade, when state legislatures once again started considering ratification legislation.