Letter: Utah should pass the ERA

This Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019, photo, Equal Rights Amendment supporters Donnie Davis, left, and Jeanne Mackenzie, join others during a rally at the Utah State Capitol, in Salt Lake City. Roughly 200 people gathered at the Capitol to encourage Utah to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. The renewed national push to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment is coming to conservative Utah, where supporters are launching a long-shot bid to challenge Virginia in becoming a potential tipping point despite opposition from the influential Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Utah can make history by passing the Equal Rights Amendment in 2021. Here’s why we should.

Seventy-two percent of American adults believe the Constitution explicitly protects equal rights of women and men. It does not. For example, courts have justified firing pregnant women and justified less pay for the same position and performance in the workplace. Let’s call this what is it: discrimination because of sex.

In 2011, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia astoundingly asserted, “Certainly the Constitution does not require discrimination on the basis of sex. The only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn’t.”

Think about that: A Supreme Court justice held that the Constitution does not prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex. Say what?! Doesn’t it follow under this logic that states can pass laws that explicitly discriminate against women? That can’t be right.

Passing the ERA would provide an unequivocal federal judicial standard for determining cases of sex discrimination. Without a clear national standard, the same discrimination case could be adjudicated differently in different states, a judicial inconsistency that should not be allowed.

Adopting the ERA would protect against rollbacks in women’s rights already achieved. It would also allow women to achieve what should already be their right:

• Equal pay for equal work.

• Requiring sex discrimination offenders to affirmatively prove they didn’t violate the Constitution.

• Allowing women survivors of violence to take their cases to federal court (they currently can’t under the rationale of the 2013 Violence Against Women Act).

• Forever banish the ridiculous legal argument that women are sometimes responsible for their own rape because of “promiscuity,” suggestive clothing, intoxication or flirtatious behavior.

No means no. Equal means equal. Mike Lee, Spencer Cox and the Eagle Forum oppose the ERA. The ERA is about fairness, equality, protection and dignity for women. I support it.

Scott Bell, West Jordan

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