"I’d rather go down in history as one lone Negro who dared to tell the government that it had done a dastardly thing than to save my skin by taking back what I said." Ida B. Wells
The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) is a proposed amendment to the United States Constitution designed to guarantee equal legal rights for all American citizens regardless of sex; it seeks to end the legal distinctions between men and women in terms of divorce, property, employment, and other matters. The ERA was originally written by Alice Paul and Crystal Eastman. The amendment was introduced in Congress for the first time in 1921 and has prompted conversations about the meaning of legal equality for women and men ever since.
In the early history of the Equal Rights Amendment, middle-class women were largely supportive, while those speaking for the working class were often opposed, pointing out that employed women needed special protections regarding working conditions and employment hours. With the rise of the women's movement in the United States during the 1960s, the ERA garnered increasing support, and, after being reintroduced by U.S. Representative Martha Griffiths (D-Michigan), in 1971, it was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives on October 12 of that year and on March 22, 1972, it was approved by the U.S. Senate, thus submitting the ERA to the state legislatures for ratification, as provided for in Article V of the U.S. Constitution.
Congress had originally set a ratification deadline of March 22, 1979, for the state legislatures to consider the ERA. Through 1977, the amendment received 35 of the necessary 38 state ratifications. With wide, bipartisan support (including that of both major political parties, both houses of Congress, and Presidents Nixon, Ford and Carter) the ERA seemed destined for ratification until Phyllis Schlafly mobilized conservative women in opposition, arguing that the ERA would disadvantage housewives and cause women to be drafted into the military.
On March 22, 2017, the 45th anniversary of Congress' submission of the ERA to the nation's state lawmakers, the Nevada Legislature became the first to ratify the ERA after the expiration of both deadlines with its adoption of Senate Joint Resolution No. 2 (designated as "POM-15" by the U.S. Senate and published verbatim in the Congressional Record of April 5, 2017, at pages S2361 and S2362).
OU Department of History lecturer Ronnie Grinberg explains how changing times and feminist ideology led to the failure of the Equal Rights Amendment in both the 1920s and
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