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The Equal Rights Amendment
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.
Simple Justice – Long Overdue
The Equal Rights Amendment is not yet in the U.S. Constitution.
The ERA, affirming the equal application of the Constitution to all persons regardless of their sex, was written in 1923 by Alice Paul, suffragist leader and founder of the National Woman's Party. After women’s right to vote was guaranteed by the 19th Amendment in 1920, she proposed the ERA as the next step in confirming "equal justice under law" for all citizens.
The ERA was introduced into every Congress between 1923 and 1972, when it was passed and sent to the states for ratification. The original seven-year time limit in the ERA's proposing clause was extended by Congress to June 30, 1982, but at that deadline, the ERA had been ratified by 35 states, three states short of the 38 required to put it into the Constitution.
The ERA has been introduced into every Congress since 1982. Beginning in 1994 with introduction of the first three-state strategy bill in Congress, ERA advocates have been pursuing two different routes to ratification:
- the traditional process outlined in Article V of the Constitution, requiring passage by a two-thirds majority in the Senate and the House of Representatives, followed by ratification by legislatures in three-quarters (38) of the 50 states, and
- ratification in three more of the 15 state legislatures that did not ratify the ERA during the 1972-82 ratification campaign, based on legal analysis that when three more states vote yes, this non-traditional process could withstand legal challenge and put the ERA into the Constitution.
The Equal Rights Amendment: Unfinished Business for the Constitution
This 17-minute educational DVD (5-minute excerpt below) traces the expansion of women's rights in the United States from the writing of the Constitution to the 72-year struggle for woman suffrage to the ongoing campaign for the ERA. (purchase)
Academics, legal and political practitioners, and activists convened on Nov. 15-16, 2013, at Roger Williams University, Bristol, RI, for "The Equal Rights Amendment in the 21st Century," a national conference on the ERA. Program highlights that can be viewed online include a Friday keynote presentation by "third-wave" feminists Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards, co-authors of Manifesta, and a Saturday roundtable including Terry O'Neill, President of the National Organization for Women, and Ellie Smeal, Founder and President of the Feminist Majority.