The Virginia General Assembly passed the ERA on Jan. 15th in an effort to ratify the proposed amendment to the U.S. States Constitution. The last state to ratify the ERA was in 1977. The Equal Rights Amendment was first introduced to Congress in 1923 during the women’s suffrage movement. For nearly 50 years the ERA was left in committee partially due to the fact that ERA advocates were unwilling to compromise for anything except equality in all circumstances without regard to practicality.
In 1971 (when I was 4 years old), during the feminist movement, the House of Representatives passed the ERA on Oct. 12, 1971 and then sent ERA out to the states on March 22, 1972. Thirty states ratified the ERA within 30 months. In the next six years, five more states ratified the ERA and five original states rescinded their previous ratification. Fifteen states never ratified the ERA.
A small group of women founded the Eagle Forum in 1976 to stop the ERA as a pro-family movement. In thousands of debates ERA advocates were unable to show that ERA would benefit women or end any discrimination due to the fact that since 1964 women were already enjoying every constitutional right that men do and had equal employment opportunities. Note that opportunity means just that; it is not a guarantee.
I had to do my homework to find out the history of the ERA because I do not remember the efforts in the 1970s. I thought based on my high-school and college experience in the 1980’s, and my work life since then that the ERA had already occurred based on the fact that I never felt held back or discriminated against in any way — and I still do not. So, I find it interesting that the Virginia Assembly feels the need to resurrect this dinosaur.
In my studies I found out what was actually in the ERA and wondered how many people were in the dark about the ERA as I was. The basic goal of the ERA is total equality of the sexes in every way. Here are some of the negative outcomes of the ERA to women that were argued by opponents:
The ERA would take away the exemption of women from military compulsory enlistment and from military combat. (If Mom and Dad go to war, who is going to care for the children while they are gone or if they perish in war?)
The ERA would take away the traditional benefits for wives, widows and mothers by making unconstitutional laws that impose a husband to support his wife (and children).
The ERA would give enormous new powers to the federal government that now belong to the states (marriage, property laws, divorce and alimony, child custody, etc.).
The ERA would upset many customs and practices for example by forcing the integration of fraternities, sororities, Girl Scouts, mother-daughter and father-son events. No more single sex schools (this would affect three men’s colleges and 34 women’s colleges).
ERA would put abortion rights into the Constitution and make abortion funding a constitutional right.
ERA would require “unisex insurance” which would prohibit insurance companies from charging lower rates to women (due to fewer auto accidents by women and women living longer than men).
It seems that the ERA would not give women more rights than they have now, and is poised to actually take away benefits that women currently have. What is the upside of this for women and how would children be affected? All thoughts to consider.