SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – It’s almost 2020 but women still don’t have equal protections under the United States Constitution, but Utah has an opportunity to change that.
“We can make history, definitely,” said Amy Rich, Vice-Chair of the Utah Equal Rights Amendment Coalition.
The ERA is a group made up of volunteers and organizations working to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment in Utah. The Coalition hopes Utah will be the 38th and final state the ratify the Equal Rights Amendment.
“It’s going to happen whether Utah does it or not. So we might as well get on board and be a leader in this,” said Michelle Quist.
Quist is a lawyer and columnist for the Salt Lake Tribune.
“The ERA would provide acknowledgement that men and women are equal, people already acknowledge that but it would provide acknowledgment in our founding documents,” she added.
Utah’s constitution guarantees equal rights for both male and female citizens.
Both male and female citizens of this State shall enjoy equally all civil, political and religious rights and privileges.
The U.S. Constitution does not.
Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.
“To have it be lagging so far behind our culture, we just want to elevate that language to match what we are already today. People might say it’s just symbolic, but that is important,” Rich told ABC4 News.
Congress passed the ERA in 1972 and sent it to the states to ratify, to which 35 of them did. In 2017, Nevada became the 36th state in the union to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. In 2018, Illinois became the 37th state in the union to do the same. The U.S. is just one state short of the 38-state requirement for adoption of the ERA.
“The constitution should be a living document that represents our values and what we as a culture believe is important,” Rich said.
Emily Bell McCormick, Founder of The Policy Project, says this is a non-partisan issue.
“One of the challenges that we face as we talked to the legislature this session is just helping them see that this is not a partisan issue. It’s a really simple issue. This isn’t complex. There aren’t 15,000 layers to this amendment. It’s one layer. It’s just about discrimination on the basis of sex,” she said.
McCormick also adds that adoption of the ERA is good for schools and businesses.
“The state motto is ‘Life Elevated’ and we want to think of that in all things, including equality. Equality elevated. Making this an essential part of life elevated.”
To read more about the Equality Rights Amendment, click here.
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