Meryl Streep is writing letters to every member of Congress.
The actress playing a suffragette in an upcoming movie is working with the current efforts of today’s feminists to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment into the Constitution.
But, she’s not the only one who needs to fight for the ERA.
First introduced into Congress in 1923, the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was written by suffragist leader Alice Paul. Since that year, and every subsequent year, it has been reintroduced in every session of Congress.
It was finally passed in 1972 with the required two-thirds majority, but only received 35 of the 38 necessary state ratifications.
Section 1. Women shall have equal rights in the United States and every place subject to its jurisdiction. 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. Congress and the several States 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.
So why do we need the ERA?
1. In 2001, an Opinion Research Corporation survey shows 72 percent of US adults believe the Constitution already guaranteed the equal rights of women and men.
This simply is not true. At the moment, the Constitution only protects women and men’s equal right to vote from the Equal Protection Clause in the 14th Amendment.
This, unfortunately, gives no protection in accordance to legal cases of sex discrimination.
2. This legal remedy against sex discrimination for both women and men would create a “clearer and stricter judicial standard for deciding cases of sex discrimination.” In practice, the amendment would classify “sex” under the same scrutiny it currently requires of race.
3. The ratification would shift the burden of proof from victims to offenders in sex discrimination cases. It would require offenders toprove they did not violate the Constitution.
4. Full legal recognition of equality between the sexes would protect possible rollbacks in women’s rights advancements.
Many feminist activists today are merely fighting for what women already have, rather than lessening the gender gap. The Violence Against Women Act almost wasn’t reauthorized in 2013.
That same year, women were paid 78 percent of what men were paid for identical work. That’s not including women of color, who face a larger pay gap.
5. With the current rationale of VAWA, women survivors of violence cannot take their cases to the federal court when taking legal action.
Even in court, women can be put at fault for being raped due to intoxication, “promiscuous” clothing or other reasons that discriminate based on gender.
The amendment would help eradicate the ridiculous reasons some lawyers attempt to use. Once again, there is no excuse for rape; no woman is ever “asking for it.”
6. Equal means equal. An amendment would guarantee women’s rights by the government with no room for debate.
Courts have previously justified firing women simply because they were pregnant and justified unequal pay for identical work. The ERA in the Constitution would prohibit such discrimination on the basis of sex.
7. Even Notorious RBG would choose the ERA because “it means that women are people equal in status before the law.”
She wants the new generation of feminists to support this Amendment and continue actively creating social change.
“One thing that concerns me is that today’s young women don’t seem to care that we have a fundamental instrument of government that makes no express statement about the equal citizenship stature of men and women. They know there are no closed doors anymore, and they may take for granted the rights they have.”
8. Ultimately, the impact would be best seen at the legal level, and hopefully change the tone of such proceedings when handling sex discrimination cases.
This specific language in the Constitution would influence the tone of legal reasoning and likely produce a cumulative positive effect over time.