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Congressman Ted Lieu

Representing the 33rd District of California

Buzzfeed: Are Women Equal?

July 18, 2017
In The News

VIEW FULL VIDEO HERE: View this video on YouTube

The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) is a proposed amendment to the Constitution that was first introduced into Congress in 1923. It would establish equality between men and women.

And in 2017, almost 100 years later, it still hasn't become law. This means that according to US law, women do not have equal rights.

We took to the streets and discovered that most people we talked to had no idea that women weren't granted equal rights in the Constitution.

In fact, a 2012 survey found that 91% of Americans believe that men and women should have Constitutionally-supported equal rights. 72% of respondents in a 2001 Opinion Research Corporation poll already assumed that the Constitution grants equality between sexes.

If so many people support equal rights, why can't the ERA be ratified? BuzzFeed's Ali Vingiano decided to investigate why the Equal Rights Amendment has never become law, and if, nearly a century later, we even need it after all:

She talked to Congressman Ted Lieu, Carol Jenkins of the ERA coalition, and a representative from Eagle Forum, an anti-ERA organization created by Phyllis Schlafly.

And she learned a ton about the ERA. Here's a little bit of it:

In 1923, suffragist Alice Paul introduced the Equal Rights Amendment, designed to grant women equal rights under the law.

In 1943, the ERA was rewritten in the context of the 15th and the 19th amendments. It stated that: "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex."

It finally passed in the Senate and the House and was then sent to the states in 1972. But to become law, it needed to be ratified by 38 states within the following seven years...and that didn't happen. Only 35 states had ratified the ERA.

Former First Lady Betty Ford wears a button expressing her support for the ERA's ratification.

But it didn’t give up then. No, no. The ERA was the little engine that could, and 10 years later, in 1982, it was introduced again.

It's now been reintroduced in every single congressional session since 1982.

In March, Nevada finally ratified the ERA — 35 years late.

Nevada was one of the states that did not ratify the ERA in the '70s, but it chose to this year. "We have delayed passage long enough," Democratic state Sen. Pat Spearman told NPR. "Now is the time to show the country, and the global neighborhood, we as Nevadans lead when it comes to equality for all."

So while there are some states that have ratified the ERA, it is not federal law. Yep. In 2017, we still can't agree that there should be equality between the sexes.

In fact, the United States is one of only seven countries in the world that still hasn't ratified the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), which aims to ensure equal rights for women around the world. The others are: Iran, Palau, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Tonga.

If you care about passing the ERA, share this video with your friends and family and tell your legislators you care!