North Carolina has not yet ratified the Equal Rights Amendment, though serious efforts have taken place in the North Carolina General Assembly in recent years.

An ERA amendment would take the protections expressed by the 14th Amendment of the Constitution a step further by guaranteeing equal rights for all American citizens regardless of sex and requiring states to intervene in cases of gender violence (e.g., domestic violence and sexual harassment), guarding against pregnancy and motherhood discrimination, and federally guaranteeing equal pay.

Support for this amendment has been part of the AAUW Public Policy Principles for nearly 50 years. Passage of the ERA is currently part of the AAUW Biennial Action Priorities.

AAUW of North Carolina has actively supported ratification efforts in our state, joining with other organizations in the ERA-NC Alliance and NC NOW to raise awareness and to encourage the North Carolina General Assembly to finally bring the ratification bills out of committee for consideration on the floor of the NC House and Senate.

Democrats in both houses have signed on as either sponsors or co-sponsors of these bills. There is a continued need for Republican sponsors to join this effort if the ERA is to secure ratification in our state.



A Brief History of the Equal Rights Amendment

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

In 1923, Alice Paul, Head of the National Women’s Party, first proposed the Equal Rights Statement to Congress and the process to amend the US Constitution began. With the approval of both the House (in 1970) and the Senate (in 1972), the next step was to seek ratification by three fourths (38 states) of the state legislatures. By 1973, thirty of the needed states had ratified the amendment, and by 1977, there were 35 states. Achieving ratification by three additional states was an uphill battle. The Nevada Legislature ratified the ERA on March 22, 2017, and the Illinois General Assembly followed suit on May 30, 2018. The 38th state, Virginia, ratified the ERA on January 22, 2020.

Advocates argue that the ERA should be made law because the required number of states have voted to ratify. At issue remains a congressionally-imposed deadline that was missed in the long journey towards achieving the 38-state minimum. ERA advocates are actively attempting to have this deadline provision retroactively nullified by Congress so that the ERA can finally be added to the Constitution. Complicating matters, questions remain regarding whether the steps toward resolving this issue and finalizing the ERA are to be taken by Congress or the judiciary. An additional threat to the status of the ERA is the changing political winds in the states. Five states (Idaho, Kentucky, Nebraska, Tennessee and South Dakota) have all voted to rescind their ratification–a controversial maneuver whose validity is still in question, but which leaves the 38-state tally vulnerable to the actions of additional states that previously voted to ratify. While the Constitution addresses only a State’s power to ratify an amendment and not its power to rescind it, this may proceed as another obstacle to the ERA ratification process.