Recently, Virginia was the 38th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. Supporters hope this fulfills the original U.S. Congress requirement to pass it.
Then is Rep. Karen Kwan’s HJR007 resolution to ratify the ERA necessary this session? Yes.
This is because a few states have voted to rescind it. The nation may need Utah’s vote to help ensure passage but, even more, Utah’s people need it. As such, it may speed women’s right to be paid equally for equal work.
It’s too late to make up for years of missed promotions, health benefits, and even personal safety for many, since ERA’s first presentation in Utah in 1973.
Utah women, particularly, fear job loss if divorced, disabled, widowed or sick. Job loss can mean insurance loss, and medical bills can quickly mount. Homelessness looms next. Utah does not have a sufficient guarantee under its Constitution stipulating that women and men are equal under the law, which the ERA passage has.
The second provision in the Amendment gives Congress the power to enforce such equality. Thus, ERA passage encourages businesses to close the pay gap, and improve maternity leave.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recently stated, “Men and women are equal — one is not superior to the other.” Yet Utah women make only $70 for every $100 that men make. Such low pay makes daycare impossible, often trapping women in abusive relationships.
As Utah Valley University professor Susan Madsen recently reported, “One in three Utah women will experience some form of domestic abuse in her lifetime.”
Passing the ERA now could finally give women the equal chance they have long deserved.
Polly Hough, Salt Lake City