In 2012, the Democratic Party recommitted itself to passing the Equal Rights Amendment. As we move toward the next midterm elections and on to 2016, we should pay attention to which candidates explicitly share the position. People have become too used to thinking about women’s rights – whether human, civil, or political – in a piecemeal fashion. Equal pay, ending pregnancy discrimination, protecting women’s controlover their reproductive health, stopping rape and sexual assault: all worthy causes, all with goals that would be more easily accomplished if we as a country affirmed once and for all that women citizens are full citizens entitled to every protection, right, and benefit afforded to men. With a substantial number of Americans committed to blocking women’s access to contraception or to criminalizing abortion or to maintaining the status quo in how the military handles violence against women serving their country, we need to make our commitment clear. To do that, we must hold candidates to the standard: Do you support passage of the ERA or not? Do you endorse the three state strategy or not? If you have held state office in a state that has not yet ratified the ERA what have you done to change that?
The Equal Rights Amendment cannot, by itself, eliminate misogyny or sexism. But for those of us deciding which candidates to support in upcoming state or federal elections, the easiest way to make sure candidates are genuinely committed to meaningful political and civil equality for women in the United States is to insist that candidates explicitly affirm the ERA and tell us what they will do to make it part of the U.S. Constitution.
It took America a good 70 years of activism to get the vote via the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. We have been waiting for passage and ratification of the ERA for almost a century. The time for the ERA is overdue, and it is now.