America has gone a long way when it comes to upholding the rights of its citizens, and the Equal Rights Amendment or ERA is just one of its achievements. The amendment was first introduced to the Congress in 1923, but it did not pass through until 1979 when 35 states approved it. But still, it needs three more 3 states to support it, falling short of the 3/4 number needed to adopt the amendment to the American Constitution.
The Equal Rights Amendment aims to make gender equality a constitutional right, guaranteeing, protecting and upholding the rights of all citizens without regard to sex. Even up to this day, however, after several decades of fighting for gender equality, legal sex discrimination is NOT yet a thing of the past. Some inequities remain, often as a result of individual behavior and social practices. In addition, some lawmakers and experts are still opposed to it. Why? Let us take a look at arguments of the opposing sides, or rather the pros and cons of the Equal Rights Amendment.
List of Pros of Equal Rights Amendment
1. Legalized equality.
With gender equality being made an amendment to the American constitution, it sends a strong message that the law has zero tolerance for any form of sex discrimination. It makes favoritism or prejudice shown based on gender illegal.
2. Rights for all.
ERA affirms the principle of equal rights on the basis of sex, enabling women to enjoy the same privileges that men enjoy, such as the right to vote, the admission of women in the military, and the so on.
3. Clear legal standard in court.
With the ERA in place, a clearer legal standard on gender discrimination will be set for court rulings. This means that all legal ruling will be made with a definitive set of standards in mind, and not just based on personal opinions or beliefs.
4. Women’s rights are recognized as legal.
The major benefit of ERA is that it will put an end to the debate over gender equality. Women no longer have to fight for their place in society as the law recognized men and women as equal. In terms of employment, women will be given the same opportunities for promotion and salary increases as men.
List of Cons of Equal Rights Amendment
1. Tricky or unclear language.
The fact of the matter is that ERA is not written clearly, leaving some room for interpretation. The tricky wordings can lead to confusion and at, worst result to gender inequality. Opponents of the amendment argued that its vagueness may take away some rights from the general public, most especially from women. For example, it may declare illegal the prohibitive laws that forbid women from working in mines except in clerical positions, exposing them to plenty of risks that men experienced in their career or working life.
2. Jeopardize single-sex programs and schools.
Patrick Briney of the Arkansan Republican Assembly wrote an article in 2007 outlining the reasons he opposed the ERA. One of the reasons he highlighted is the impact of the amendment on single-sex programs and schools. Briney believes that the ERA would force sex integration of fraternities, sororities, Boys State, Girls State, and the likes. He also pointed out that it would put at risk the tax exemption of religious schools run by churches and synagogues that treat men and women differently.
3. Implementation issues.
Enforcing the amendment may not be easy as its proponents thought of. This is because it specifically state the ONLY the Congress has the power to enforce its provisions, which may not sit well with states. And should the enforcement be passed down to the power of states, changes have to be made to any laws that are in conflict to ERA or those that exhibit sexual discrimination.
The Equal Rights Amendments will no doubt benefit women; however, its provisions should be clarified first to ensure that gender equality is achieved without undermining some rights of women and the masses.