The ERA is the proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would provide for equal rights for men and women. It was first introduced in 1923.
The pertinent text of the ERA reads “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.”
Right now the U.S. Constitution does not explicitly state that men and women have equal rights under the law. The ERA would make that clear for the first time in U.S. history.
The most important effect of the ERA would be to clarify the status of sex discrimination for the courts, whose decisions still show confusion about how to deal with such claims. The ERA would require that classifications in the laws based on sex be treated by the courts as “suspect,” just like classifications based on race, religion and national origin. Courts would review the classifications based on sex with the same high level of “strict scrutiny” and justification as classifications based on race, religion and national origin. Courts do not currently do this under the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment.
Without the ERA, laws granting men and women equal rights can be repealed and court decisions can be reversed or overruled. Indeed, in a September 2010 interview, former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia stated that, in his view, the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution does not prohibit sex discrimination. A change in the composition of the Supreme Court with more Justices who reflect Scalia’s view could result in women losing constitutional protection.
If ratified by 38 States, the ERA would become the 28th amendment to the U.S. Constitution. So far, 35 States have ratified the ERA.
Florida is one of the 15 States that has not ratified the ERA.
Every year since 2003 resolutions have been filed in the Florida Legislature calling for Florida’s ratification of the ERA, but have not passed.
In 1998 Florida voters, by a margin of 65% to 35%, approved a similar amendment to the Florida Constitution when they approved of Revision 9. Therefore, ratification of the federal ERA would be fully consistent with the will of the voters of Florida.
Information on the ERA can be obtained from the following websites: www.equalrightsamendment.org, www.ERAcoalition.org, www.ERAaction.org, www.women-matter.org, and www.2PassERAorg. Also on the following Facebook pages: ERA Coalition, ERA Action, Pass the Equal Rights Amendment, and Women Matter Use Your Power.
Miami-Dade County Commission for Women · 111 N.W. 1 Street, Suite 1034, Miami, FL 33128 ·
(305) 375-4967 · CFW@miamidade.gov · www.miamidade.gov/advocacy/women-board-home.asp.