Kim Capria / MesaCC Legend
A debate took place on the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) mid-March 2019 in the Arizona State Senate. While many state representatives supported the bill, Republicans in the legislature remained in opposition to the ERA, denying the bill a vote for the third consecutive year.
The debate lasted two hours, the Senate voting 13-16, leaving the option for ratification likely dead until the next session. Four crucial Republican swing voters were absent during the debate.
According to AZ Central, “The ERA would broadly guarantee equal rights between men and women.” Those opposed to the ERA have said that there are already protections for women and the bill is unnecessary. State representative Eddie Farnsworth stated, “The supreme court ruled the ERA a mute point with a lapsed time frame.”
Legislators in favor of the Amendment argued statistics prove women are not treated equally, make significantly less on the dollar to men, and passing the ERA making it an official amendment will further insure equal rights as part of our constitution.
ERA HISTORY AND THE AZ TASK FORCE
Arizona remains in a critical place with the Equal Rights Amendment. The struggle the ERA faces in Arizona as of today is getting the bill to be heard by State Representative Eddie Farnsworth and Speaker of the House Rusty Bowers. Farnsworth and Bowers historically don’t support the Amendment.
In 24 words, the Equal Rights Amendment will make it illegal to discriminate based on sex in the workplace and in any place in the United States of America. Arizona is in a unique position to be part of the change with only one state needed for ultimate ratification.
The ERA states, “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” The National Women’s Party, an American women’s political organization formed in 1916 to fight for women’s right, proposed the ERA in 1923.
So far, 37 of the 38 states needed for ratification have voted in favor of the ERA. According to National Public Radio, the amendment laid dormant for 40 years until 2017 when Nevada became the 36th state to vote, reviving the amendment. In 2018, Illinois voted in favor of the bill becoming the 37th state to vote for ratification.
In 2016, nine citizens formed an ERA Task force in Arizona, meeting in the gallery of the Arizona Senate to push for the bill to be heard. That day lives in infamy in the mind of Rebecca McHood, who plays a lead role in the Arizona ERA Task Force.
“So, it gets defeated on the floor, and we walk out, and I just start crying, and it totally caught me off guard, I did not realize how emotionally invested I was until that moment, it was very impactful for me,” McHood said.
While Arizona may not be the 38th state to vote for ratification at this time, 14 states were eligible to approve the amendment. The ERA Task force vows to continue to fight for equal rights for women and will continue to push for a vote through the Senate until equal rights are part of the U.S. Constitution.