Dems seek extension for women's rights constitutional amendment

More than 100 House Democrats have proposed a resolution that would give states another chance to ratify a constitutional amendment aimed at ensuring equal rights for women, more than 30 years after the original deadline expired.

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) and her Democratic colleagues proposed H.J.Res. 113, which eliminate the original 10-year deadline for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.

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That proposed amendment was approved by Congress in 1972, and it set a 10-year deadline for getting three-fourths of the states to ratify it. Ratification by enough states would enshrine the language in the Constitution.

The 10-year deadline expired in 1982 without enough ratifications from states. Nonetheless, its supporters have kept up the fight to finish the process.

"It's almost unbelievable that in the 21st century women do not have the same equal protections under the Constitution that men do," Speier said Thursday. "The Equal Rights Amendment was introduced in Congress back in 1923, and unreasonably stipulated that states had only 10 years to ratify it.

"This arbitrary deadline is counterproductive, and an antiquated impediment to equality," she added.

Thirty-five states ratified the amendment before the original deadline, although five later rescinded that ratification. Still, Speier said she believes it's possible to get to 38 states in the coming years, and said Congress should therefore strike the original 10-year deadline in order to allow the new Amendment to take effect.

"I'm confident that will happen in the coming years but a deadline is simply not necessary — it will be a setback to equality," she said.

The Equal Rights Amendment reads as follows:

"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."