In honor of Women’s Equality Day (August 26). Alice Paul spearheaded the final long-time nationwide effort to get the 19th amendment to the US Constitution passed. And once that occurred in 1920, she wrote the Equal Rights Amendment; yet, almost a century later, it has yet to become part of the US Constitution. It’s time for women to achieve full legal equality.
If she was alive today, Alice Paul would be 138 years old. Ms. Paul was born on January 11, 1875. After the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution granting women the right to vote was ratified in 1920, many of the suffragettes thought women’s rights were won. Alice Paul disagreed, saying that until women were fully written into the US Constitution, our rights would always be at risk and we could (and would) be treated as second-class citizens. In 1923, Ms. Paul introduced and then continued working for passage of what became known as the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) for the rest of her life.
The ERA passed Congress in 1972. It has not yet been ratified by three-quarters of the state; it needs three more states to sign on. It is short but to the point:
Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.
Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.
In honor of Alice Paul’s birthday, a group of women supporting the Madison Amendment or “three-state” approach for passage of the Equal Rights Amendment started a second petition on the White House petition website.
I recently wrote about the ERA and the first of these petitions. Unfortunately because of the lack of organization surrounding the first petition, it is highly unlikely that it will receive the 25,000 signatures required by its January 17 deadline in order to get a response from the White House.
This new petition, in contrast, looks like it has a much better chance of reaching the 25,000 signature threshold. In the first 6 days of this petition drive, there have been over 4800 signatures received. That’s an average of 800 signatures each day. With 25 days left (deadline is February 10)—and if the momentum keeps up—we could make it. Between now and then we need to average a total of 840 additional signatures each day. Your help is needed.
So I am once more asking people to sign on and tell President Obama that you want him to: