Equal Rights Amendment (ERA)

ERA as passed by Congress in 1972

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.

History of the ERA

The Equal Rights Amendment was written in 1923 by suffragists Alice Paul and Crystal Eastman, and introduced in Congress that same year. The ERA was reintroduced in every subsequent Congress but made little progress until the 1970s.

In 1970, a new class of women lawmakers pushed to make the ERA a top legislative priority. It was a steep climb as the House Judiciary Chair had refused to hold a hearing on the ERA for over 30 years, but the women succeeded. In March 1972, the amendment passed both chambers of Congress with bipartisan support far exceeding the two-thirds majorities required by the Constitution. Congress promptly sent the proposed amendment to the states for ratification with a 7-year deadline. 

The deadline for ratification by three-fourths of states was later extended by Congress to June 30, 1982. When this deadline expired, only 35 of the necessary 38 states had ratified the ERA, so it did not become a part of the U.S. Constitution. The ERA has continued to be reintroduced in every session of Congress since 1982. 

In 2017, 2018 and 2020, Nevada, Illinois and Virginia, respectively, each ratified the ERA bringing the total of state ratifications to 38, achieving the required threshold for a constitutional amendment. 

Frequently Asked Questions About the ERA

ERA Action & News

Keep up with ERA advocacy

LWVUS keeps ERA supporters informed via its League in Action channel. Follow the instructions provided here to stay in the know and help make equal rights the law of the land.

ERA Coalition

The League of Women Voters of the United States (LWVUS) has a long history of working at the forefront of the equal rights movement since suffragists Alice Paul and Crystal Eastman drafted the first Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) in 1923. Over 100 years later, LWVUS and numerous local Leagues, including LWVAAC, have joined with more than 300 other organizations in the ERA Coalition to secure equal rights under the law once and for all. 

“100 Years (and Not One More)" March and Rally

[December 13, 2023] On the 100-year anniversary of the ERA’s initial introduction in the House of Representatives, members of a number of organizations from across the country joined national ERA Coalition leaders at Lafayette Square in Washington, D.C., and marched down Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House to the U.S. Capitol. Along the way, they stopped at the U.S. Justice Department and at the National Archives to make their voices heard for certification of the ERA as the 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Enroute, the marchers chanted, “It has been 100 years – not one more!”

Representatives Cori Bush (MO), Ayanna Pressley (MA) and Jennifer McClellan (VA) joined the marchers at the National Archives. Congresswoman Bush gave a passionate speech that highlighted the work of women of color in the fight for equality and urging her fellow members of Congress to affirm the ERA.

LWVAAC member Susan Crawford, who also serves as program chair for the AA County Branch of the Association of American University Women (AAUW), joined with LWVUS leaders and staff at the Capitol press conference. Speakers included: LWVUS CEO Virginia Kase Solomón; AAUW CEO Gloria L. Blackwell; former Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D- NY), who now chairs the ERA Coalition Board; former Congresswomen (D-NY) Eleanor Smeal, Co-founder and President of The Feminist Majority Foundation; Shalina Effendi, an organizer with Generation Ratify; and YWCA USA CEO Margaret Mitchell. They urged Congress to pass pending joint resolutions affirming the ERA and withdraw the arbitrary time limit set for ratification when Congress passed the ERA in 1972.

Advocates call for ERA certification 100 years after its introduction in Congress.

The continuing ERA saga

[Excerpted from the March 2024 issue of The Voter.]

According to staunch supporters of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) as the 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the federal government has sidestepped certification of the ERA even though 38 states, the required three-fourths majority, have ratified. However, the backstory to this position is complicated. Adding to the confusion, more than 80 percent of men and women in the United States believe the U.S. Constitution already guarantees equal rights, according to national data.

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