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85 Percent of Voters Want Congress to Pass the Equal Rights Amendment

The ERA is a nearly 100-year-old measure that would enshrine equal rights for all genders in the Constitution.

A group of demonstrators in front of the Department of Labor hold signs supporting the Equal Rights Amendment and abortion rights as President Bush passes by in the inaugural parade, on January 20, 1989, in Washington.

Fifty years after the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was initially passed in Congress, an overwhelming majority of likely voters want the provision aimed at guaranteeing equal rights for all genders to go into effect.

Recent polling from Data for Progress finds that 85 percent of likely voters support Congress passing the ERA to give it a second chance at being adopted as a constitutional amendment. Support for the amendment is bipartisan, with 93 percent of Democrats and 79 percent of both independents and Republicans agreeing that the provision should be passed.

Poll respondents further said that they would favor politicians who support the ERA. Fifty-seven percent of likely voters said they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who supported the ERA’s passage, including 75 percent of Democrats.

Passing the ERA again is one of the pathways that lawmakers can take in order to have the ERA officially adopted as an amendment to the Constitution. In order to have an amendment adopted, two-thirds of states, or 38 states, must ratify the measure. That threshold was passed in 2020, when Virginia became the 38th state to do so. But the Trump administration blocked the ERA’s adoption, saying that the seven-year deadline that was set in 1972 to have states ratify the measure had passed.

Though the ERA has obtained new relevance with recent ratifications in Virginia, Nevada and Illinois, voters say that they know little about the measure, the Data for Progress polling found. Only 23 percent of likely voters said they’ve heard “a lot” about the issue, while 53 percent said they’ve only heard “a little” and 24 percent said they’ve heard nothing at all.

Advocates of the proposal say that it is more important than ever for the Constitution to explicitly state that women and other people across the gender spectrum are equal to men, and to affirm that gender-based discrimination is unconstitutional. Though there are landmark Supreme Court rulings that have created protections against sex discrimination, adoption of the amendment is especially timely due to the increasingly extremist right-wing Supreme Court, advocates say.

Women’s suffrage advocates first drafted the ERA in 1923 and fought for its passage in Congress for decades. When the ERA was finally passed in 1972, 30 states ratified the measure in the following year — but anti-feminist anti-LGBTQ activist Phyllis Schlafly waged a campaign against its adoption, saying that it would lead to equal rights for gay and trans people. Her campaign was successful, and support for the amendment rapidly eroded, especially among Republicans.

Currently, dark money groups like Concerned Women for America (CWA) and Independent Women’s Forum (IWF) are using similar anti-LGBTQ scare tactics in order to fight the ERA, feeding into the right wing’s growing misogyny and escalating attacks on the LGBTQ community.

Congress has other options for ERA adoption other than passing a new measure. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, Congress has the power to lift the deadline it originally set for states to ratify the ERA. And though five states have voted to overturn their previous ratifications of the amendment, Congress could overrule those decisions and consider the ERA ratified in those states anyway. But these methods could prove difficult to pass due to the Senate filibuster and likely Republican opposition.

In fact, three Republican senators recently went as far as to ask then-U.S. Archivist David Ferriero to commit to not adopting the amendment as Democrats waged a new push for its adoption; last year, every Republican in the House voted against a measure to remove the ERA’s deadline, and the proposal was never brought to a vote in the Senate.

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