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When the Equal Rights Amendment is LAW

When will American women have full legal rights?

Equality of rights under the law shall not be abridged by the United States
or by any State on account of sex.

Equal Rights Amendment  1923 - 2021 

equal rights maine
Equal Rights Maine: Advocating for an EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT to the Constitution.

Why do we need an ERA?

The U.S. is the only major nation whose founding document does NOT protect its citizens against sex discrimination. We live in a country that has not included women in its Constitution, except for the right to vote.

The ERA gives full civil rights to women and will protect all people from gender discrimination. While we have some laws that protect against sex discrimination, they are hard to enforce and can be overturned by Congress. A constitutional amendment places equality at the foundation of law, giving it the strictest respect in the courts, bringing an 18th century Constitution into the 21st century. It is long overdue.​

Equal Rights Maine is a grassroots organization advocating for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitutions of the U.S. and the state of Maine. We work to inform our fellow Mainers and those from other states about the importance of the ERA, to organize fellow supporters of the amendment, and to advocate for passage of both the federal and state Equal Rights Amendments with our local, state, and federal legislators.

These are constitutional issues women face - an ERA addresses them all.

Wait, didn't the ERA already pass?

The ERA was stalled in the 1980's when congressional rules and an ugly political campaign prevented its full ratification by the states. See the ERA timeline here. It has sat mutely for decades since then - until now. 

 

We are now seeing younger Americans joining with the older Americans who have waited lifetimes to see constitutional equality for women.  The required 38 states have now ratified. However, there are congressional procedures, court cases and persistent opposition that prevent its full adoption.

How do we make it happen NOW?

The American public supports women's legal equality.  Special interests and certain political minorities are opposed. That opposition has prevented the ERA from being declared the 28th Amendment since the 38th state ratified the amendment in 2020. Prominent legal opinions support the position that the ERA can now be considered the 28th Amendment as it has met all provisions of Article V of the U.S. Constitution. In March 2021, the U.S. House voted to lift the time limit on ratification that had been placed on it in the 1970’s. Withdrawing the time limit is not required but is intended pave the way for the ERA’s full enactment. The Senate has not yet voted on a time limit bill.
 
The opposition to the amendment has brought several court challenges including the attempt by five states to reverse their previous ratifications. The reversing of a state’s ratification has never been accepted and was not foreseen in the Constitution. The legality of placing or removing a time limit on ratification by Congress will also be challenged in court. It continues to be a long, hard fight for equality for women.

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What Next?

Amend

the U.S. Constitution

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On the federal level, bills to reactivate the ERA have been introduced to the U.S. Congress for decades. This year, the argument for the fully ratified 28th Amendment, the ERA, is strong. The opposition to the ERA, based on a procedural effort by opponents in the 1970’s to place a time limit on ratification, is weak. Yet in this politically divisive times, the minority opposition to women’s full and equal legal rights is able to prevail.

An important shift is taking place.
Putting women’s civil rights into the Constitution and prohibiting sex discrimination is closer to becoming reality. This may be our best opportunity for legal equality between the sexes in the history of the country. 

 

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Closer to home, we live in a state that ratified the federal ERA in 1974 yet does not prohibit sex discrimination in its own state constitution.
Twenty-six states prohibit sex discrimination in their state constitutions with Delaware and Nevada being recent additions.


A Maine State ERA has been proposed in previous years, coming close but not reaching the 2/3 majority required of a constitutional amendment. Once again this year a bill will be proposed, but this time with a greater scope of inclusion. Its precise language is not yet published but it is expected to be similar to Nevada’s recent successful vote that brought together support for a broad coalition of people affected by unfair discrimination. 

In its past three legislative sessions, Maine has considered amending its state constitution to protect all Mainers from sex discrimination. Most recently, in the 2019-20 legislative session, LD433 was a “RESOLUTION, Proposing an Amendment to the Constitution of Maine To Explicitly Prohibit Discrimination Based on the Sex of an Individual.” It failed to receive a single Republican vote in the Maine House. 

In this 2023-24 session, a new bill is being drafted to become Maine’s ERA that clearly includes sex discrimination, once and for all, with other discriminated groups identified in the Civil Rights Act (and the 14th Amendment): race, color, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, disability, ancestry or national origin. 
 

... and the Maine State Constitution

What are we doing at Equal Rights Maine?

How does our Constitution address women, sex discrimination, and equal justice?

 

That’s what we talk about with our fellow Mainers.

Most Americans think women and men should be treated equally under the law.

Very few understand that our Constitution doesn’t uphold women’s rights as every other modern nation’s constitution does because the ERA is not yet included in the Constitution.  

 

We are a growing group of citizens demanding that the 28th Amendment be the ERA. We hold public workshops and debates.

We work with organizations, students, and legislators. We speak to our legislators, in Maine and in Washington, D.C. We speak up in Augusta. We have made progress, but real change always needs more voices, more support, more ‘good trouble’ to make it happen.

ERA 101

The story of the Equal Rights Amendment - what you need to know.

What can I do?

We need to show that Mainers support the ERA as we advocate with our legislators. Join our list of supporters. Spread the word, help grow our numbers!

Be informed.

Read this website. Talk about what you have learned.
Talk to your family, your friends, your neighbors. Talk to people who didn’t vote the way you did. Help us let people know that we don’t have equal rights for women stated in the Constitution. Speak up for an Equal Rights Amendment.

 

How can I speak up?

Call your Members of Congress. Call regularly. Recruit others to do the same.  

 

How are we heard?

With many voices, speaking often. Our Members of Congress need to know what we think, how we plan to vote. Calls may be better than emails but do both.
The calls are counted. Keep it simple. Write notes for yourself before you call. Give your zip code with your name. Then, call today. 

Banner image courtesy of Patrisha McLean; Violence Against Women thumbnail image courtesy of EPA

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