The Equal Rights Amendment: An American Dream Soon To Be True

For just shy of a century, the Equal Rights Amendment has been one of the most debated topics in politics. The fight for equal rights launched in the 1800s, when the women’s suffrage movement began to bolster in support. Feminist figures, such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, established the idea that basic rights for women were possible during this time. The Equal Rights Amendment itself was presented in 1923 by Alice Paul, who was crucial in the tangible progress of the Women’s Rights Movement. Boisterous activists throughout the years have built a lucrative movement that captures the true identities of Americans and demands respect for the minority. The wave of these catalysts for change have become heroes within American history, and impactful history of that calabar is still being created by the very same movements today.

The Equal Rights Amendment simply states that sex cannot determine the fundamental, civil rights one receives. For example, this means that the gender wage gap would be abolished. In 2019 alone women are still statistically earning 79 cents to every man’s one dollar. The pay difference for women of color is even larger. The American Association of University Women did a study breaking down the pay gap for women of color in different cities. They reported that in Houston, TX alone Hispanice women only earn 53% of what men make, and in Los Angeles, CA African American women make 49% of the median salary of a white male. Additionally, several reports done by the Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that women with children make less than men with children weekly. This discrimination also applies heavily to those who are transgender and gender non-conforming. In the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, it reveals that 15% of people within this community live beneath the poverty line, which means their salary amounts to around $10,000 per year. As for Latinx transgender and non-conforming citizens the amount increases to 28%, and 34% for African Americans who identify as transgender and non-binary. 

Not only are people of the LGBTQ+ community horribly affected by the wage gap, they struggle just to be hired for a job as well. There is an extreme lack of nondiscrimination legislation that would protect and offer those within this community equal opportunity. In the United States, 26 states and 3 territories hold no difinitve restricitons for discrimination based on the sexual orientation or gender identity of an individual. The gross neglect and ignorance of lawmakers concerning this issue does not just stop at employment either. It applies to housing, public accommodations, and credit. A whopping 36 states, 5 territoies+D.C. do not hold non-discrimination laws for credit and lending. This means that companies are free to choose who they offer their credit and lending services to, no matter their prejudices.

The fight against discrimination based on sex is a tale as old as time. Since the acts of protest and civil disobedience committed by hundreds of brave leaders in the 1970s, there has been a dwindling amount of attention on the ERA up until the last few years. This was predominantly because it was deemed a failed amendment in 1982. Therefore, with the Amendment's recent ratification in Virginia’s General Assembly, the drive and passion for progress held by activists today has been illuminated. It is now the 38th state to ratify. The national campaign for the ratification of the ERA has skyrocketed in recognition and support due its historic win in Virginia. With important crusades such as #MeToo, Times Up, and the Women's Marches, the desire for a difference is prevalent. 

The not-so-late, but very great, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg once said:

"We should not be held back from pursuing our full talents, from contributing what we could contribute to the society, because we fit into a certain mold...because we belong to a group that historically has been the object of discrimination."

It remains clear that this generation is taking her up on her words. The ERA would allow for bountiful amounts of opportunities to become accessible to Americans who have been dealing with the distress of this overt discrimination. The Equal Rights Amendment winning in a traditionally red-state displays the unrest held deep inside Americans today. It is a noteworthy, pivotal moment in history. The Constitution is the law of the land. It states that each person is given “unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. However, the careless neglect of the majority causes minorities to be restrained from fully living this American dream out. Now, the words of the Constitution are coming closer to fruition. The revolution that began over a hundred years ago is now one step closer to its victory.