Elections Have Consequences: Equal Rights Amendment Edition

Oh. Mah. Gawd. Twenty-five-years after it failed to be ratified by three-quarters of state legislatures to become a Constitutional Amendment (and eighty-four years after it was first introduced in Congress), the Equal Rights Amendment—now known as the Women's Equality Amendment—is having a resurgence.

Yesterday, House and Senate Democrats reintroduced the measure … and vowed to bring it to a vote in both chambers by the end of the session.

…"Elections have consequences, and isn't it true those consequences are good right now?" Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) asked a mostly female crowd yesterday at a news conference, as the audience cheered. "We are turning this country around, bit by bit, to put it in a more progressive direction."

The amendment consists of 52 words and has one key line: "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex."

I'm crying. I'm honestly sitting here crying, reading that line and thinking that it may finally make its way into the Constitution in my lifetime.

That sentence would subject legal claims of gender discrimination to the same strict scrutiny given by courts to allegations of racial discrimination.

…"I think we've made a lot of people think about this and say, 'Yes, this is the right thing to do,' " said Arkansas state Rep. Lindsley Smith (D), who sponsored the ERA and has vowed to bring it up again when the legislature reconvenes in 2009. "The question I get most frequently is 'Lindsley, I thought this already was in the Constitution.' "
Yeah, I've heard that once or twice myself. Probably because most Americans are fucking amazed that it isn't.

It remains unclear whether the amendment -- which has 194 House co-sponsors and 10 Senate co-sponsors and no longer includes a deadline for ratification -- can get a two-thirds vote in Congress. [Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.)], who chairs the Judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution, civil rights, and civil liberties, said the bill will receive its first hearing in more than two decades and "is going to be one of the items at the top of the agenda."

Okay, crying again. I just feel deliriously happy at the mere possibility of the ERA at long last being ratified under the leadership of the first ever female Speaker.

Of course, the usual suspects are reemerging to fight it, just like they did last time: "In the 1970s, Schlafly and others argued that the ERA would lead to women being drafted by the military and to public unisex bathrooms. Today, she warns lawmakers that its passage would compel courts to approve same-sex marriages and deny Social Security benefits for housewives and widows." The real issue buried in all that nonsense is, of course, "same-sex marriages." Other opponents are all fidgety "because courts in two states have ruled that equal-rights amendments in state constitutions justify state funding for abortion." Said Arkansas state Rep. Dan Greenberg (R): "The more general language you have in a constitutional amendment, the more unpredictable the policy impact will be."

Yeah, who knows what will happen when we finally recognize women as equals?! Maybe frogs will fall from the fucking sky!

Opponents of the WEA are so tired. Their arguments against it are so tired. Waaaaah! Same-sex marriage! Waaaaah! Abortion! They're willing to deny my equality under the law just because it might open the door to other battles they're eventually going to lose, anyway. Brave culture warriors, my fat arse.

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