The Equal Rights Amendment
Frameworks for America's Past
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Originating Page

A proposed Equal Rights Amendment
(ERA) divided public opinion in the 1970s

The Equal Rights Amendment was proposed as a way to help
women win full legal equality with men.  From the very
beginning, however, it divided public opinion.
Many people, for example, feared the proposed amendment might
eliminate laws intended to protect women, such a workplace safety
laws and laws granting women maternity leave from work for childbirth.

In 1972 Congress approved the amendment and sent it
to the states for ratification (approval).  The main section
of the proposed amendment is shown below:

The Equal Rights Amendment (proposed)

    Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

The ERA failed to be ratified

At first it looked like the amendment would easily be approved by the required 38 states.

When the time limit for ratification (7 years) ended, however, only 35 states had ratified it.
Opposition grew during the 1970s from women and men who said the amendment was
unnecessary, since the Constitution already guarantees equality to all citizens.

Below:  A rally outside the White House by women opposed to the ERA. 
They argued that the ERA would not help women, but only create
endless legal disputes that would end up hurting both women and men.

The photo is from the Library of Congress.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright 2010, 2012 by David Burns.  All rights reserved.  As a guide to the Virginia Standards of Learning, some pages necessarily include phrases or sentences from that document, which is available online from the Virginia Department of Education.  The author's copyright extends to the original text and graphics, unique design and layout, and related material.