Equal Rights Amendment advocates rally for certification

Washington DC – On Thursday, supporters of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) rallied and marched to the Department of Justice in effort to certify the amendment.

Equal Rights Amendment Protesters march to the Department of Justice to demand action.
Equal Rights Amendment Protesters march to the Department of Justice to demand action.  © IMAGO/NurPhoto

Many gathered in Washington DC to show support for the ERA and to demand both the Biden administration and US Archivist take action and add it to the US Constitution.

Article 3 of the ERA declared it would go into effect two years after the ratification requirement was met, which happened on January 27, 2020, when Virginia became the 38th state to ratify the amendment.

Prior to marching to the Department of Justice to drop off a petition of signatures asking to certify and publish the amendment, the ERA Coalition held a rally with Feminist Majority and the National Organization of Women (NOW).

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At Thursday's rally, Feminist Majority's president Eleanor Smeal told the crowd of supporters, "We have won. The ERA has met requirements for the ratification of the amendment, and we intend to get it certified and published," adding, "Why do women have to work twice as hard for half as much?"

Smeal continued, "We want a country where everybody's full potential is not only realized, but they can't be discriminated against."

President Joe Biden also called for action in terms of certifying the ERA.

In a statement released on Thursday, Biden said, "We must recognize the clear will of the American people and definitively enshrine the principle of gender equality in the Constitution. It is long pastime that we put all doubt to rest. I am calling on Congress to act immediately to pass a resolution recognizing ratification of the ERA."

Though the ERA has yet to be officially certified and published as a part of the US Constitution, NOW's vice president Bear Atwood noted, "As far as we're concerned, today, it is in the Constitution. It is part of the fabric of our society, and that is just an amazing, amazing thing."

Making moves for equal rights

ERA advocates marched to the Department of Justice in Washington DC on Thursday.
ERA advocates marched to the Department of Justice in Washington DC on Thursday.  © IMAGO/NurPhoto

The rally came one day after the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) issued an opinion that states, "The 2020 OLC Opinion is not an obstacle either to Congress’s ability to act with respect to ratification of the ERA or to judicial consideration of the pertinent questions."

In 2020, the OLC issued an opinion that said the ERA wasn't able to become part of the US Constitution due to a missed deadline previously imposed by Congress.

The initial deadline was set for 1979 but was pushed to 1982. At that time, only 35 states had ratified the amendment, falling short of the 38-state requirement.

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In October 2021, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, who cosponsored the ERA Ratification Bill, argued that the time limit set forth for ratification was not a part of the amendment itself.

"This is purely ministerial duty, which should be done automatically, but under Trump, the Department of Justice issued an opinion advising the Archivist not to certify the ERA," Maloney said during an October 2021 hearing.

Supporters of the amendment have said that without enforcement or certification by the US Archivist, the ERA is just a symbol.

On Thursday, Rep. Maloney took to Twitter to call for immediate action regarding the ERA, stating it had, "Completed the required waiting period and met all constitutional requirements for ratification," before demanding it be added to the Constitution "immediately."

Cover photo: IMAGO/NurPhoto

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