On Jan. 27, Virginia became the 38th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), a constitutional amendment guaranteeing equal rights for women, reaching the threshold it needs to become law.
Passing this amendment is crucial for legal gender equality. Advocates for the amendment point out that it provides a “clearer judicial standard for deciding cases of sex discrimination.”
For example, the ERA would make it easier for women to file suit against employers for unequal pay and unfair treatment in the workplace.
In support of the ERA, many Democratic congresswomen showed solidarity by wearing all-white outfits and “ERA Yes” pins to Tuesday night’s State of the Union address.
One might think that a 38th state joining the cause would be all that the country would need to implement this obvious addition to our founding document. Unfortunately, when Congress first passed the ERA in 1971 they set a 1982 deadline for states to ratify.
The deadline, however, has been referred to by many as “artificial.” The current House of Representatives has argued that it has the power to remove it. Nowhere in Article V of the Constitution, in which it outlines the process for amendment ratification, does it specify a time restriction on states’ ability to ratify.
As a result, a number of state attorneys general have pushed the Trump administration to bring the amendment into effect. The case has the potential to be decided by the Supreme Court.
Florida officials can take a number of steps to help push this amendment along. State Attorney General Ashley Moody (R) can join the push advocating for this cause. She is one of nine female state attorneys general in the U.S. Her voice would be an important addition to the success of this act. She is a Republican representing a crucial battleground state in the upcoming 2020 election and her voice would speak volumes.
In addition, Florida is one of the few remaining states that has yet to ratify the ERA. The Legislature could vote to ratify as a sign of solidarity to other states who have already ratified.
If Florida does its part in supporting the ERA, it will have helped enshrine gender equality into our founding governing documents. Passing this amendment would help us live up to our ideals of fair treatment under the law.
Jared Sellick is a senior studying political science.