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

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