Re: “Advocates plan birthday gift for the 19th Amendment: The ERA” [Aug. 17, Nation]: On Aug. 18, our country celebrated the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage. As monumental as that achievement was, it did not guarantee equality to women except in regard to voting. For women to achieve complete equality under federal law, Congress passed the Equal Rights Amendment in 1972.
To enable this legislation to be part of the Constitution, 38 states needed to ratify it. The original ratification deadline was in 1982, but only 35 states had ratified it by that time. Since then, the final three states have ratified it, but the ERA will not become part of the Constitution without a Supreme Court decision or an act of Congress due to issues relating to having missed the original ratification deadline.
In today’s extremely polarized political climate, steps to incorporate the ERA into the Constitution are likely to meet with vigorous opposition from an aggressive and vocal minority that seems to oppose any efforts to be inclusive. Even though Washington state ratified the ERA in the 1970s and also added a state ERA to its own constitution in 1972, we should not be complacent.
We can work toward finalizing the ERA as the 28th amendment to the Constitution by putting pressure on our lawmakers and elected representatives to do the right thing for women. We have come too far since women first got the vote to not finish the job by enacting the ERA.
Judith Siefker, Des Moines