Women are still being excluded from the American Constitution – Opinion Editorial

Evelyn Skyberg Greer, Editor

A 2016 poll done by the ERA Coalition/Fund for Women’s Equality showed that 80% of Americans believe that men and women are guaranteed equal rights in the U.S. Constitution.

They’re wrong. Women and other marginalized genders are not guaranteed any rights in the United states constitution. The ratification and integration of the Equal Rights Amendment into the constitution would solve this pressing issue. 

What is the Equal Rights Amendment? 

Women are still not included in the American Constitution.                  Graphic by Evelyn Skyberg Greer

The ERA is simply an amendment to the constitution that states that the rights under the law will not be denied on account of sex. The proposed wording of the amendment looks like this:

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.

Women and other marginalized genders are not explicitly included in our constitution. The constitution does not guarantee equality on the basis of sex. 

The ERA would give constitutional protection to women and marginalized genders. It would include sex as a suspect classification, just as race, religion, and national origin currently are. 

The Constitution does not guarantee the rights of women as a class to be equal to the rights of men. 

When the United States Constitution was adopted it only guaranteed equality to white males, but after the Civil War, the rights have been extended through other constitutional amendments, such as the 13th amendment which abolished slavery and the 15th amendment which stated that “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” The Declaration of Independence also stated that “All men are created equal.” However no amendment has yet guaranteed equality regardless of sex.

Timeline of Equal Right Amendment and Suffrage events leading up to now.
Graphic by Evelyn Skyberg Greer

What would the ERA impact?

The ERA would guarantee that men and women are given the same legal rights in all areas. Here are a few of the specific issues that it will address:

  1. It would help us close the gender wage gap.
  2. It would provide legal defense for amending legislation such as Title IX , The Violence Against Women Act, and the Fair Pensions Act.
  3. It would support cases of sex discrimination in law by increasing the likleyhood that judges will apply a higher standard of law in cases such as sexual harassment, maturnity leave rules, or workplace discrimination. 
  4. The ERA does not just help women; it helps men too. It would guarantee that men will be equal with women in all areas of family law.

The ERA would guarantee “Equal Justice Under Law” making It unconstitutional to treat the sexes differently.

What can you do to support the ERA?

Wisconsin lawmakers are currently working to propose an equal rights amendment to Wisconsin’s constitution. The amendment was proposed March 8th on International Women’s Day. Twenty-nine others states have already or are working towards passing state level equal rights amendments. This Amendment, much like the national amendment, would guarantee equal rights on the basis of sex, gender identity, race, color, sexual orientation, disability, religion, national origin, marital status, family status, age, and ancestry. Want more information? Click here.

Want to be involved in the fight for equal rights in Wisconsin? Well, there are many diverse movements present in 2021 that are lobbying for ERA support. One of the largest faces of the present ERA movement is a youth-led organization called GenERAtion Ratify. This organization works to raise awareness about the ERA, keep people informed on ERA progress, and in the end, help add the ERA to the American Constitution. 

GenERAtion Ratify has many ways for the youth to get involved in the movement, one of them being joining or adding a GenERAtion Ratify chapter in your state. Chapters are in charge of raising local awareness and support for the ERA, and organizing events to support its success. Wisconsin does not yet have its own chapter but one can be started at any time by reaching out to the GenERAtion Ratify organizational leaders through their website. 

Want more on the ERA?

Watch: Ms. America

Read: Ms. Magazine 

Listen: The Unladylike Podcasts 

Support: Generation Ratify