When will American women have full legal rights?
When the Equal Rights Amendment is LAW.
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: 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?
How do we make it happen NOW?
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.
The American public supports women's legal equality. Special interests and certain political minorities have different ideas. Americans can demand that Congress enact this amendment by lifting the time limit placed on its ratification in the 1970's. In March 2021, the House voted to do just that. The Senate will hold a similar vote soon.
The opposition to the amendment has brought several court challenges including the attempt by five states to reverse their previous ratifications. The legality of removing the time limit by Congress will also be challenged in court. It continues to be a long, hard fight for equality for women.
... and the Maine State Constitution
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.
Only about half the States prohibit sex discrimination in their state constitutions.
A Maine State ERA has been proposed again in this Maine Legislature. It came close last year, passing in the Senate with a decisive 2/3 majority but failing to get a single Republican vote in the House.
Not from Maine? Here is where you can find out more information about your state ERA.
Amend the U.S. Constitution
On the federal level, bills to reactivate the ERA have been introduced to the U.S. Congress for decades. This year, we have a new administration that supports women's full constitutional rights. This year looks as though it could be different!
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.
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.
What can I do?
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. We think that calls are 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.
Violence Against Women thumbnail image courtesy of EPA