As Carol Jenkins, Co-President and CEO of ERA Coalition, highlighted: there is nothing in the US Constitution that protects discrimination against women. Many women do not realize that they are not protected against discrimination. This COVID-19 pandemic has certainly emphasized this crisis in areas related to women not only because of deficiencies in health care coverage, but also because many are small business owners. It is really past time for women not to be treated as second-class citizens. Over 156 countries in the world already have written into their constitutions language that prohibits discrimination against women. The questions remain: Why is the US in the same category as many 3rd world countries related to the issue of discrimination against women? Isn’t it time for the US to move this process along and therefore protect over half of its population from this type of discrimination?
Lawsuits continue to have a role in the passage of the ERA. The US Archivist continues to block the ERA from becoming a part of the US Constitution primarily based on the arbitrary action of Congress to place a deadline on the passage of this amendment. Article V of the Constitution doesn’t state that a deadline is to be included when proposing an amendment. So, if Congress imposed this artificial deadline, they should also be able to remove it! The US House has already voted to remove this deadline (thanks to legislation introduced by Representative Jackie Speire), but now it is time for the US Senate to act. Thanks to legislation introduced by Senators Lisa Murkowski and Ben Cardin, the ERA discussion continues to move forward.
In the time of the COVID-19 pandemic, being a social activist may take on different approaches. Social media becomes more important, as do digital meetings. Now is also the time to contact your Senators both by phone and through emails. Pay attention to local elections, and ask every candidate to respond to the question of ERA passage or not. Text banking as well as phone banking continue to serve important roles, as does building communities through town halls and educational forums. Another factor often forgotten is the importance of completing the US Census!
Remember, there really is no timeline of the ERA because there is no timeline on equality for women. Women today are often assuming a role on the front line during this pandemic, and there is no reason they should continue to also be at the back of the line. So, as we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Women’s Right To Vote, let’s also celebrate together and keep pushing for the passage of the ERA! I leave you with this final thought: Will North Carolina become state #39 or #40? I don’t know. But, this will only happen if there is a change in the General Assembly composition. Remember that not one Republican signed on to co-sponsor the ERA bill last session. Therefore, voting in November is the key to achieving the goal of helping North Carolina to achieve its place in history. Now is the time to make ERA a reality!!!!