The things we take for granted.
Did you know that only 100 years ago, in 1917, American women still did not have the right to vote? That changed in 1920, due to the persistent efforts of that century’s suffragists—women who worked for equality. But the 1923 Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) —a simple amendment that grants women equal protections they do not have under the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment—remains unratified.
Passage fell short by three votes as Utah, Nevada and New Mexico, along with a handful of Southern states, rejected the amendment.
Much like the status of race and religion, if the ERA were ratified, it would be harder for the government to pass laws that discriminate against women. It would uphold legislation that often comes under attack such as Title IX, the Violence Against Women Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act.
“Many think we already have the ERA. We do not,” says Lavinia Taumoepeau-Latu, co-founder of Utah Women Unite. “The U.S. Constitution does not specifically protect women. Laws that have since been cobbled together, like Title IX and the Violence Against Women Act could be easily revoked by the Legislature or gutted by the Executive branch at any time. We are vulnerable. Only with the ERA will women have guaranteed protection of our inalienable rights.”
“We need this amendment now more than ever especially in Utah,” says Chelsea Shields, another Utah Women Unite cofounder. “Ratifying the ERA would protect women’s rights at home and on a national level.”
Almost 40 years since its first introduction in Utah, Senator Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Lake City, with the support of Utah Women Unite, the Equal Rights Coalition and Mormons for ERA—has proposed a resolution, S.J.R. 10, to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. The bill was introduced to the Senate Rules Committee on February 1.