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An ERA March in the 1970s
On March 22, 1972, the federal government sent the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the individual states for ratification. The ERA sought to make gender discrimination a violation of the United States Constitution. The ERA stated:
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 every year since 1923, ERA supporters had submitted a similar amendment to the United States Senate and House of Representatives for approval. It took until 1972 for both houses of Congress to approve the ERA and to send it to the states for ratification.
For a constitutional amendment to go into effect, three-fourths of the states must ratify it. In the case of the ERA, thirty-eight out of fifty states needed to approve the amendment. The U.S. Congress gave the states seven years to ratify the amendment. Between 1972 and 1974, thirty-four states, including Ohio, approved the ERA. Unfortunately, by the deadline in 1979, only thirty-five states had ratified the amendment. The federal government extended the ratification deadline three more years, until 1982, but no additional state approved the amendment. The ERA, thus, fell short by three states. The states that did not ratify the ERA included Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, and Virginia.
Many men and women supported the ERA, and many men and women opposed it. Supporters believed that all people in the United States deserved constitutional guarantees of their rights, including women. Opponents sometimes claimed that women were physically and intellectually subordinate to men. Other times, opponents cited a fear that women would now be eligible for the draft. They sometimes contended that the ERA