Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification

     These three simple sentences about equality for men and women, also known as the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), have stalled in our government for years. Congress first passed the ERA in 1972 with the understanding that it needed to be ratified by 38 states within seven years. Although the deadline was later extended to ten years, the passage of the ERA fell short in 1982 by a mere three states.
     Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) has introduced this bill every year for the past four years and we are still no closer to enacting the ERA than we were over 20 years ago. It is ridiculous that countries such as Turkey, Canada, Japan, Mexico, Portugal, and Ethiopia have adopted equal rights for women into their constitutions, yet the United States continues dragging it’s feet on this issue. Even Afghanistan’s new constitution, under direction from U.S. government, provides an equal rights clause for women.
     Part of the problem is that most Americans believe that there is already an amendment in place to protect the rights of women. According to a survey conducted by Opinion Research Corporation Caravan Services in 2001, seven out of ten people think that the Constitution already states that men and women are given equal rights. It is very difficult to educate and excite people over a problem that many believe is already solved.
     Representative Maloney once again introduced the ERA on March 15th this year and I am asking all of you to please contact your state representatives and urge them to finally pass this important constitutional amendment.
     For the state of Rhode Island, I commend Representatives Patrick Kennedy and James Langevin for co-sponsoring this reintroduction of the ERA. However, according to Representative Maloney’s website, my Senators have yet to sign on. Time for me to send Lincoln Chafee and Jack Reed a letter!