Washington, D.C. — Independent Women’s Forum (IWF) opposes Virginia’s ratification today of a radical, unnecessary, and untimely proposed amendment to the United States Constitution.
Virginia’s approval of the nearly 50-year-old Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), first proposed in 1923 and sent to the states for ratification in 1972, will be a disaster for women and girls across the country.
The proposed amendment claims to guarantee equality of the sexes, but the Constitution already guarantees equality for all Americans. In fact, in America today, women enjoy full legal equality with men: Men and women share all of the same basic constitutional rights, including the right to free expression, the right to worship freely, the right to bear arms, and the right to due process. Sex discrimination is prohibited by the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, as well as by federal statutes and by statutes in all 50 states.
Women and men already enjoy equality under the law, and Virginia’s approval of the ERA is constitutionally illegitimate.
The ERA will go much further than this by requiring that the government treat men and women the same—regardless of actual differences recognized under current law upon which women presently rely.
By enforcing legal “sameness,” the ERA will nullify laws that make distinctions between males and females on the basis of actual differences between the sexes. This would throw countless programs and policies that benefit women and girls into legal jeopardy and, in some circumstances, may place them in harm’s way.
Inez Stepman, senior policy analyst at IWF, said, “The ERA could force the integration of men into women’s shelters, into women’s sports teams at public universities, or even into bathrooms and locker rooms in public schools.” Stepman added, “It could force women to be drafted into combat alongside men, and eviscerate programs aimed at helping mothers with young children, such as WIC, and aimed at providing benefits to non-working partners in marriage, such as spousal social security.”
Virginia’s decision today is not only unfortunate, it is constitutionally illegitimate. The time for ratification of the ERA expired in 1979 without the approval of three-fourths of the state legislatures required by Article V of the Constitution. Moreover, five states that originally supported the amendment have since voted against it.
Jennifer C. Braceras, director of Independent Women’s Law Center, said, “ERA proponents today advocate a ratification process where an amendment’s supporters can simply wait it out, cobbling together support over the course of decades, or even centuries, while ignoring decisions by states to rescind or sunset their approval. This would make it impossible for the American people to ever reject a Constitutional amendment, which seems contrary to the spirit of Article V.”
IWF supports women and men’s legal equality, which exists under present law, but opposes this illegitimate attempt to enforce legal “sameness,” which will have negative unintended consequences for American women and girls.
For more information contact Elizabeth Tew at [email protected].
Independent Women’s Forum is dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities.
Independent Women’s Law Center advocates for equal opportunity, individual liberty, and respect for the American constitutional order.