Gender inequality is so severe in the past that a proposal to add the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the United States constitution has to be made. It was introduced in Congress in 1923, but was only approved by 35 States 50 years later. But because 38 States has to approve the amendment to make it a law, its addition to the constitution remains a hot, controversial issue to this day.
Why are some states opposed to the Equal Rights Amendment when the population is a mix of male and female? Perhaps they are not in favor of the amendment’s context.
“Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”
It was designed to ensure equal rights for women. It also specifies that only the Congress will have the power to impose the provisions of the ERA, and two years after its ratification, the amendment will take effect.
The Equal Rights Amendment was written by Alice Paul in 1923, just years after women were granted the right to vote by the 19th amendment. She was the founder of the National Woman’s Party and a suffragist leader. Since its introduction until 1972, the ERA was brought up in almost every session, but falls short by 3 states so it can be put into the Constitution. What would it mean if the Equal Rights Amendment becomes a law? What are its pros and cons?
List of Pros of Equal Rights Amendment
1. Abolition of gender discriminating laws
Once the ERA becomes part of the Constitution, all federal laws and family court laws that discriminate on account of sex would be completely abolished. Gender favoritism would become illegal as well as any prejudice shown based on gender. Although it won’t stop people from holding specific views, it will minimize gender discrimination. It would also be easy to take legal action against anyone who violates the law.
2. Equal rights are made for all
The US Constitution does not guarantee that citizens’ rights are protected and equally held by everyone. But with the addition of the ERA, everyone will now have legal civil, human, and diplomatic rights from any and all types of prejudice.
It would also clarify the legal standard for court rulings on cases related to gender discrimination, which is currently absent. At present, nearly everything women receive has to go through the courts where officials have an opportunity to use ‘protective laws’ to place women in their rightful place in society, effectively ending further arguments. But when the ERA is passed, all forms of gender discrimination will no longer be tolerated and legal rulings will have a set standard.
3. Women’s rights will have legal basis
The ERA will effectively put an end to the discussion or debate regarding gender equality. Men and women will be finally recognized as equals, sparing women from the need to fight for their standing in the society and to have level footing with men. Women will be able to get credit or run a business without asking for her husband’s consent. She will be able to take advantage of medical care, travel, vocational training and a wider range of associations.
List of Cons of Equal Rights Amendment
1. Problems with the language used
The language used on the Equal Rights Amendment is considered tricky that may lead to the lack of gender equality and confusion. It also leaves plenty of room for interpretation, which is why those who oppose the amendment say that it will take away some rights for women, while adding others.
For instance, in states where there are laws that require husbands to support their wives and families, the ERA will cause problems. But, as it is, unless they are divorced or separated, the court can’t do anything if the husband chooses not to support his wife.
Opposition also claims that the benefits women enjoy today under the Social Security, Sexual assault and Protective Labor laws will be taken away because of the ERA. But proponents say that it would be extended to include men instead.
2. Can cause problems with the Constitution
When the ERA was first introduced, a major concern is how it can influence the way laws will be made, what with it being confusing. When added to the constitution, it can cause more problems, especially with whatever laws that will be made following it.
3. Raise concerns over implementation
Section two of the ERA specifies that only the Congress will have the power to enforce the provisions outlined in the amendment, which did not sit well with the states concerned. This is because it gives the federal government more power, while taking away the rights of every state.
Supporters of the amendment, however, pointed out that the states still have the right to enforce the provisions of the article, the same way that they did with the 13th, 14th and many other amendments. They will also have two years to make changes to any laws that are in conflict of the provisions or those that show sexual discrimination.
4. Expose women to risks
One of the protective labor laws that proponents point out as particularly discriminating is the rule that forbids women from “working in and around mines except in an office in a clerical capacity”. Considering that mines provide jobs with better pay, barring women from these employment opportunities is an example of gender inequality. Those who support the ERA believe that such jobs are not detrimental to the health and physical well being of women and should be opened to her. If time comes that women can work in mines, they will be exposed to plenty of risks that the men have experienced all throughout their careers. Would a high pay be compensation enough for the repercussions?
It is true that adding the Equal Rights Amendment in the Constitution will cause major changes with the laws, but what amendment didn’t? Before you decide to oppose or support the ERA, it is vital that you understand the context and the full extent of its provisions.