ACE Position Statement on the Equal Rights Amendment

Act. Connect. Engage. (ACE) joins with the League of Women Voters, the National Organization of Women (NOW), American Association of University Women (AAUW), and Girl Scouts of America in supporting the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA).  Some of the reasons ACE supports passage of the ERA include the following:

  1. Equal justice under the law is a basic human right
  2. Women are only guaranteed the right to vote under the U.S. Constitution. While the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment protects against discrimination based on race, religion, national origin, and sex, legal claims for discrimination based on the first three are held to strict scrutiny, while discrimination based on sex is based on intermediate scrutiny. This results in discrimination court claims having an 80% chance of winning, whereas claims based on sexual discrimination are successful about 50% of the time. This is because claimants have to establish intent to discriminate, making their claims far more difficult to prove. Although individual states might have protection laws, this piecemeal system can be (and has been) overturned because there is no federal mandate. (See Dukes v. Wal-Mart.) Women are subjected to a patchwork of discriminatory laws that change from one state to another.
  3. Women are not guaranteed equal pay for equal work. Over the course of a woman’s work history, this negatively impacts her retirement benefits and personal wealth. In the U.S., women earn approximately 79¢ per dollar earned by men, and black women fare worse at 60¢ per dollar earned by men. The ERA would help close the gender pay gap and ensure employers could not relegate women to lower pay for doing the same job.
  4. Women pay higher costs for health care coverage. Pregnant women are fired for asking for extra bathroom breaks. The U.S. is the only industrialized nation that does not guarantee paid maternity leave. The ERA would eliminate the burden of going to court to prove intent to discriminate in such cases.
  5. Only 2% of all rapists actually go to jail. Right now, more than 400,000 untested rape kits sit in police stations. This sort of sexual discrimination would be illegal under the ERA.
  6. Most developed countries have an equal rights clause in their constitutions. These countries include Afghanistan, but not the United States.

Lack of recognition in the Constitution promotes and perpetuates the absurd notion that women are, in fact, not equal, which leads to unequal treatment in all spheres. This is unacceptable.