The ERA is 24 words,” Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.” Such a simple statement, so why the controversy? 

On Tuesday, August 9, 2022,  Mayor Jonathan Williams of Spencer issued a Proclamation for recognition of Women’s Equality Day commemorating women getting the right to vote 101 years ago on August 26th. 

In 1920, when only 1 more state was needed to ratify the amendment, North Carolina’s General Assembly voted against it, with opponents saying that “voting rights should be the purview of the state; women who became involved in politics would neglect the home; women would be forced into roles they did not want, such as having to serve on juries and that giving women the vote may lead to Negro suffrage. “ Only after the Voting Rights Act of 1965 which prohibits racial discrimination in voting, North Carolina legislators finally ratified the 19th amendment to the US Constitution in 1971, 51 years after women got the right to vote.

Our founding fathers, in the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence wrote that “all men are created equal.”

I’d like to talk about some unfinished business for Equality. 

  • For the last 37 years, I have been involved with organizations and groups working to get the Equal Rights Amendment written into the Constitution and ratified by North Carolina. The amendment was first introduced to both houses of Congress,

in 1923 just 3 years after women got the right to vote. It was introduced in the party platforms for both Republicans and Democrats over the years. In 1972 it was passed by both houses of Congress and sent to the states for

ratification. By 1973, 35 of the required 38 states had ratified. A deadline or ratification was added to the amendment, the first time in history that a deadline has been set. (The 27th amendment was added 202 years after it

was first introduced)

  • In 2017 Nevada ratified, followed in 2018 by Illinois and then in 2020, Virginia became the 38th necessary state to ratify. All the requirements were met for the amendment to become part of the Constitution. Under former President Trump, Attorney General Barr instructed the Archivist not to publish the amendment. The Equal Rights Amendment should have become law on

January 27, 2022, two years after the final state had ratified. Legal scholars say it is law and lawsuits are pending.

  • Progress toward equity has been made. Women can get a loan without the signature of a husband or male relative, insurance companies cannot charge higher rates for women, laws relating to domestic violence have been strengthened. The Paycheck Fairness Act enforces equal pay laws and protects pregnant employees from discriminatory practices on the job. Women have been able to choose when or if they wanted to bear a child.
  • We’ve made progress, but laws can be changed with the stroke of a pen. Witness the Supreme court decision to overturn Roe vs Wade after 50 years. Some lawmakers have supported doing away with birth control drugs.
  • Every Constitution written since World War 2, adopted by democracies around the world has included equal rights for their citizens.

The ERA is 24 words,” Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.”

Such a simple statement, so why the controversy?

I’m asking you to contact our elected state and federal representatives and urge them to make the Equal Rights Amendment the 28th Amendment to our Constitution.

Note: The full proclamation can be found on the Town of Spencer website under the 8/922 meeting packet.

Pat Sledge