Although this year marks the 50th anniversary of the United States Congress approving the Equal Rights Amendment, which would declare for women the same rights as men under the Constitution, the amendment is still not published into law.
The ERA would end legal distinctions between men and women in many matters, including divorce, property ownership and employment.
“We’ve been fighting this battle for a really long time,” Lori Bunton, co-president of the ERA-NC Alliance, said.
The ERA was written in 1923 by Alice Paul, an activist in the women’s rights movement. In 1972, the amendment passed through Congress with bipartisan support and moved to the states for ratification with a deadline of seven years.
Thirty-five states ratified the amendment, just three states away from the three-fourths requirement. The momentum came to a halt because of pushback from labor and insurance organizations, Bunton said.
It was opposed by some women who believed that they would lose some protections, including having separate bathrooms and not being drafted, if the ERA became law.
The amendment did not reach the requirement for ratification until 2020 when Virginia became the 38th state to ratify it. By this time, the seven-year deadline had long passed. This imposed a new barrier: getting Congress to remove the seven-year time limit.
The ERA is in the U.S. Senate after the House of Representatives voted to remove the time constraint, but has yet to be brought to the floor for a vote.
The ERA-NC Alliance is a nonpartisan, nonprofit cooperation of different organizations in the state that support women and the ERA.