About 50 organizers and participants of the Utah ERA Coalition gathered Monday on the steps of the Utah Capitol to ask state legislators to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment.
The Utah ERA Coalition is a bipartisan partnership of 30 organized groups, including Equality Utah, Women Lawyers of Utah, the League of Women Voters and more.
Rep. Karen Kwan, D-Murray, is sponsoring legislation in an effort to push the state to ratify the ERA because a poll by Utah Policy shows that 71% of Utahns and 66% of active members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints support ratification.
“I’m just so thankful that y’all came out here and for bringing your stories with you. We all come to this conversation with our personal stories and the reasons why it’s important for us,” Kwan said. “It’s important that your legislators hear that story. It’s really important that they are inspired by you and your voice.”
Kwan said she was inspired to reintroduce this legislation over the summer after the birth of her granddaughter because she wants her to “enjoy a life of opportunity and equality, which is something worth fighting for.”
The legislation being introduced by Kwan is a “next step” bill modeled after the Reaffirm Respect for Utah Women Resolution that passed unanimously in the House and Senate last year.
Christian Nunes, vice president of the National Organization of Women, joined the rally as a featured speaker because of her 20 years’ experience as an activist for women and children.
She said many people would get discouraged or give up because of the arduous task that has been passing equal rights for women in Congress beginning in 1923.
“However, what we know now is that Congress did not fully understand the relentless, unwavering determination of powerful feminists and allies,” Nunes said. “So we continue to fight ,and we continue to resist and persist.”
Congress passed the ERA in 1972 and sent it out for states’ approval, but Utah is one of 12 states that has yet to ratify the amendment.
Virginia voted to ratify the ERA the same day as the rally, making it the 38th state to ratify it, which gives Nunes hope that Utah will follow suit. She urged participants to not become complacent and to continue pushing for ratification.
“When we ratify the Equal Rights Amendment," Nunes said, “we are letting our communities know, our women know — our mothers our daughters, our sisters, our friends — that we believe they deserve to be treated just[ly] and be protected under the law.”