|Family Policy Brief
THE EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT
Most Americans have wrongly assumed that the proposed Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the U.S. Constitution has been dead and buried for over 25 years. In the 1970s and early 1980s, the effort to stop this anti-family and anti-motherhood amendment from being ratified was the key battle against radical feminists and other would-be social engineers.
Indeed, many of today’s pro-family organizations trace their origin to this issue. For many leaders of the pro-family movement, stopping the ERA was how they first became involved in the pro-family cause.
But the ERA is not dead. In fact, since 1972 it has been reintroduced in every session of Congress. When the original deadline established by Congress for states to ratify the ERA expired in 1982, it was still three short of the 38 states needed to ratify it to make it part of the U.S. Constitution. Also, before the deadline date had passed, five of the states that had originally ratified it had rescinded their approval. Despite this fact, pro-ERA supporters have introduced bills to ratify the ERA in several states and refuse to accept that any state could withdraw its ratification. ERA proponents also continue to push Congress to establish a new deadline for ratification.
In recent years the ERA has been renamed the “Women’s Equality Amendment” or the WEA. At first glance, the ERA/WEA looks not only innocuous, but even beneficial, as it simply states that “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of sex.” However, this statement is so broad and simple that it leaves plenty of room for mischief by activist judges because it does not specify any limitations, parameters or even guidance on how “equal rights” on account of sex is supposed to be defined.
To understand why the ERA is at best misguided and at worst dangerous, it is necessary to understand that ERA proponents want to use this amendment to try to eradicate any distinctions between men and women in society. Of course this is highly problematic because men and women are inherently different, physically, emotionally and psychologically.
Radical feminists pushing for the ERA/WEA refuse to acknowledge these differences between men and women. In the two generations since the ERA was first introduced, scientific research documenting the innate differences between men and women that would justify treating men and women differently (but equitably) under the law has continued to mount.
All healthy societies have recognized in their culture and laws the inherent differences between the sexes by promoting different roles for men and women. For example, all societies have recognized the obvious fact that only women can bear and nurse children.
Since the future of every society lies with its children, societies have also always recognized that this essential role for women—that of bearing and raising children—must be promoted and protected. Current U.S. laws provide a number of protections for women. The Equal Rights Amendment would remove these protections.
Experts predict that if the ERA/WEA were ever to pass, some of the harmful consequences would likely include:
Activist judges could use the ERA/WEA to mandate same-sex marriage because it would be illegal to treat people differently based on their sex.
The opportunity to overturn Roe v. Wade would likely be lost, and it would be almost impossible to make abortion illegal again in the U.S. This is because women would be able to claim that being forced to bear a child by being denied an abortion is unfair since only women get pregnant, not men. It could be argued that since men do not have to be pregnant neither should women.
Since under the ERA/WEA men and women would have to be treated equally, if the military draft were reinstituted, all women would be subject to induction equally with men. It would be illegal to prohibit them from serving in any combat situation or military specialty, regardless of the impact on unit effectiveness. Women would be more vulnerable to abuse as prisoners of war, including rape.
Inevitably, more sexual issues will arise with more women serving in the military and living in close quarters with men.
Adoption of children by same-sex couples could not be prohibited or even specially regulated, as this would likely be considered sex-based discrimination under the ERA/WEA. When deciding the placement of children for adoption the proven benefits of having children raised by both a male parent and a female parent could not even be considered.
Terms such as “man,” “woman,” “father,” “mother,” “husband” and “wife” would have to be struck from all laws and regulations across the board.
The more serious problem, however is that no one can predict all of the many negative consequences that likely will occur if the ERA/WEA were to pass. This is because the amendment is worded so broadly that activist judges could use it to justify almost any decision that deals with the sex of a person. Activist judges have already used state constitutional equal rights provisions in some cases to try to establish a right to abortion and same-sex marriage.
We need to continue to be vigilant since efforts to pass the ERA are alive and well, and proponents have no plans to stop their relentless push to pass this amendment anytime soon.
Family Watch International ©
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