History was made in Nevada yesterday.
The Nevada Assembly’s vote to make Nevada the 36th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment is a ringing declaration of support for the explicit guarantee of constitutional rights for women. The failure of the framers to include women in our nation’s founding documents is a constitutional failure that has long demanded correction. That’s why the National Organization for Women has made it an essential part of our mission since 1976 to ratify the ERA.
Now, ratification in just two additional states can meet the requirement of 38 states needed to put the ERA in the Constitution. Equality in pay, job opportunities, political structure, education, health care (including reproductive health care), and education–in particular for women of color, women with disabilities and the LGBTQIA community–will remain an elusive dream without a guarantee in the U.S. Constitution.
The progress we have made—and must continue to make—towards women’s equality can be lost at any time because those advances depend on legislation that can be (and has been) weakened or repealed by Congress. Given the current political climate, with Republicans in the White House and Congress nakedly promoting a white supremacist and patriarchal agenda, this is more of a concern than ever.
NOW is committed to advocating for an inclusive and intersectional ERA interpretation that includes equitable access to all aspects of reproductive health care and centers marginalized people, including LGBTQIA individuals, immigrants, women of color, and women with disabilities. We believe the broad language of the 1972 text (“Equality of rights under the law shall not be abridged … on account of sex”) lends itself to this inclusive interpretation.
Nevada’s action takes place on a straight line that can be drawn from the January 21st Women’s March on Washington to the March 8th “Day Without a Woman” general strike, and all the spontaneous protests, actions and acts of resistance in between.
Going forward, NOW is mobilizing a new national action campaign for constitutional equality, working with chapter leaders and activists in states such as Virginia, North Carolina and Florida that have yet to ratify the ERA to capitalize on the energy and enthusiasm radiating from Nevada across the nation. We will expand the national conversation about constitutional equality and increase the number of people–particularly young people– who know the status of the national Equal Rights Amendment and support its ratification.
When women, in all our diversity, are included in the U.S. Constitution, our country’s aspiration to be a true democracy will be that much closer to reality.