Equality Amendment Is Long Overdue

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equality
Courtesy of Nathan Dumlao (Unsplash)

The 28th Amendment guarantees equality for every American. In 1972, President Jimmy Carter signed the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) legislation. By January 2020, the amendment was ratified, but the Trump administration blocked the change.

Constitutional equality remains in limbo three years after it met ratification, with two-thirds of the states approving the amendment. Congressional failure to formalize the 28th Amendment jeopardizes equal rights achievements. Sadly, this light at the end of the tunnel remains a flicker of hope at best for marginalized Americans.

As a result, spiteful, self-indulgent, anti-equality movements that demolish voting and reproductive rights run unhindered. They seek to destroy any chance for children to learn American history from a neutral yet factual perspective. Ultimately, hatred against race, heritage, and gender motivates these white supremacists to twist the U.S. Constitution’s vagueness to bolster their repressive politics.

equality
Created by Cathy Milne-Ware on Stencil App (Flickr PDM)

The 28th Amendment will not end white supremacy. It will not erase ignorance. Nor will it make anyone understand what equality means. However, it does support the Founding Fathers’ goal of a free nation, and it clarifies the U.S. Declaration of Independence’s second sentence:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

When these words were written, the collective noun “men” likely referred to humankind. Scholars refer to the use of “Creator” as evidence for this argument. Nonetheless, Constitutional literalists — predominantly white males — cling to every word as though it were “god’s honest truth;” A fact that magnifies the need for the 28th Amendment.

What Will the 28th Amendment Change?

Equality
Courtesy Getty Images (Unsplash+)

“Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”

Furthermore, “Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article” explicitly directs legislators to enact equality-based laws.

The 28th Amendment has the power to affect every aspect of American life. Its most significant change is that this much-needed equality clause strengthens the entire United States Constitution. It clearly identifies who “we the people” are and why each person is entitled to strive for their best possible life. According to VoteEqualityUS, the amendment will:

  • “Close the current equality gap in the Constitution.
  • Provide a “framework for the Supreme Court to interpret ‘equality of rights under the law’ related to government actions.
  • Anchor equality laws in the U.S. Constitution to prevent rollback of hard-won and popular legislation.”

Women’s Equality Forwards Racial Equity

Equality
Courtesy of Jimmy Carter Library (NARA PDM)

The 28th Amendment (ERA) was passed nearly 50 years after it was first proposed in 1923 to ensure white women’s equality.

Virginia became the 38th and final state needed for the 28th Amendment’s ratification in January 2020.

Fortunately, once the equality amendment is certified and enshrined, women, who comprise slightly more than 50% of the U.S. adult population, will be recognized as equal under federal law. But a small number of government elites continue to ignore women’s needs.

The President of the Virginia National Organization for Women (NOW), Lisa A. Sales wrote of a gathering in Lafayette Park to advocate for women’s equality and reproduction rights. “A stampede of women warriors from all over the country would [descend] onto 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue demanding to be equal in the U.S. Constitution, wanting to remove the restraints of thousands of yearslong second-class citizenship.”

Additionally, Sales wrote of their concentrated, ear-piercing and agonizing sounds expressed their confusion about “why a bunch of mostly conservative, aged, white men were not following the rules and were, in fact, rolling back women’s rights.”

Continue to Fight for Equal Rights

Women need no other evidence that the government plans to continue this betrayal than to remember June 24, 2022, when the male-dominated conservative Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. Justices John Roberts, Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, Samuel Alito, and Amy Coney Barrett stripped women’s reproductive rights and cared little about equality.

Far-right conservatives will not stop their effort to reverse traditions and laws intended to establish equality. Instead, they continue to rig the system to be in their favor by restricting voter access, redrawing county lines to benefit their party, and seeking to control American youth’s education.

Furthermore, it seems illogical that those who adamantly deny the existence of systemic racism and gross inequality could comprehend the need for racial and gender equity. This means they need to be educated by those they oppress.

Written by Cathy Milne-Ware

Sources:

Women’s eNews: Ignoring Precedent: Stop Making Women’s Equality a Political Question Mark; by Don W. Wilson and Lisa Sales
The New York Times: ‘Will We Keep Marching?’ On Roe’s 50th Anniversary, Abortion Opponents Reach a Crossroads; by Ruth Graham
The New York Times: Archive: Carter Urges Extension For Rights Amendment
Vote Equality: What will the 28th Amendment (Equal Rights) Really Do?

Featured and Top Image by Nathan Dumlao Courtesy of Unsplash
First Inset Image Created by Cathy Milne-Ware Courtesy of Flickr – Public Domain License
Second Inset Image by Getty Images Courtesy of Unsplash+
Third Inset Image from Jimmy Carter Library Courtesy of NARA – Public Domain License

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