www.ambiente.us MARCH | MARZO 2010
Unfinished Business| Ratification of the E.R.A.
by Paula Xanthopoulou
Many people are surprised that the Equal Rights Amendment is still around, and even
more people are shocked to learn that women are not equal under the U.S.
Constitution. It’s high time we ratified the E.R.A. and righted a gross injustice. During
Women’s History Month (March), let’s make something happen?.
Since 2003, E.R.A. ratification bills have been filed anew in both houses of the Florida
Legislature. Even though the bills have enjoyed bi-partisan support -- especially in
Miami-Dade – they have barely been acknowledged in Tallahassee. In the Senate, the
bill was heard twice successfully in the Judiciary Committee over seven years; and in
the House, it has never been heard in a single committee -- totally unacceptable!
Equality under the Constitution is critical to women, nearly 52 percent of the U.S.
population. Women have to fight for every privilege on so many levels, any of which can
be taken away by fickle government entities at any time. Meanwhile, every constitution
written since World War II provides equality for women. Equality is a right, not a
(Not to mention that the U.S. is 70th in the world for electing women, with a measly
17% of Congressional seats held by
women -- this at a crucial time when
healthcare reform is being discussed and
voted on. Indeed, nineteen states do not
have a woman in either house of Congress!)
Those who remember efforts to ratify
the E.R.A. in the 70’s may also
emember that Congress set a time
limit. Those currently reengaged in
that effort know that the Madison
Amendment ratified in 1992 was on
the table for over 200 years. That
established a precedent worth
fighting for. Only three more states
are needed to put ratification of the
E.R.A. back on the table for Congress,
and perhaps the courts, to deal with.
There are active E.R.A efforts in
Florida, Illinois, Arkansas, and Missouri.
The Florida Legislature should do the
right thing and ratify the E.R.A. in
2010. After all, in 1998 Florida voters
approved Revision 9 for equal rights
to our Constitution by 65-35 percent. And ratification will not cost Florida a penny.
House bill HJR 8003 (“Equal Rights for men and Women”) has been filed by Rep. Evan Jenne (D-100), with an
identical bill in the Senate, SCR 1192 by Senator Arthenia Joyner (D-18). They are calling for co-sponsors. Advocates
are calling for a fair hearing and up-or-down floor votes once-and-for-all. Will legislative leaders do the right thing, or
will women continue to be second-class citizens in the United States of America? It actually is up to you!
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April 17, 2010