It’s time to put equality in the U.S. Constitution (And Joe Biden can do it today)
The Equal Rights Amendment could protect reproductive rights and provide the foundation for a more equitable future for all
Imagine if there were constitutional amendment that would protect reproductive rights — while also protecting LGBTQ rights and equality for all. It does exist. It’s the Equal Rights Amendment and it its main clause simply states “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.” It is within Joe Biden’s power to enshrine it in the constitution today.
I spoke with Kate Kelly, author of Ordinary Equality: The Fearless Women And Queer People Who Shaped The U.S. Constitution And The Equal Rights Amendment and host of the podcast Ordinary Equality, about what the Equal Rights Amendment would do, how it could protect reproductive rights (and more!) and how easily we could achieve this transformational amendment. Says Kelly: “We are one signature away from finalizing a gender provision in the constitution and Joe Biden can make it happen.”
What would the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) do for women today? Is there a bullet point list of benefits?
A list of what the ERA would do never existed. Because it’s an amendment and not legislation, it doesn’t spell out explicitly what it would do from one day to the next. But it will improve litigation outcomes when people are discriminated on the basis of sex.
It will also help with legislation because the second clause gives Congress the power to enforce it. With ERA we can get more robust laws, which could include a reproductive bill of rights. We could get that on a federal level. We cannot get a reproductive bill of rights without the Equal Rights Amendment.
So the Equal Rights Amendment will give us a strong foundation to legislate for the future we want.
It will help create a more robust set of laws that protect women in the future, for issues like violence against women and equal pay, for example. There are lots of laws (One example: a ban on female genital mutilation) that Congress tried to pass but the courts wouldn’t let them. But we could get them with the ERA. One of the clearest examples is with…