Civil Rights History: Senate Passes the Equal Rights Amendment
March 20, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
From the museum: Map of the states that ratified the ERA and a photo of Alice Paul.
This Sunday, March 22, is the anniversary of the U.S. Senate's passage of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), a constitutional amendment that would have ensured equal rights could not be denied on the basis of gender.
Though the amendment was passed by Congress in 1972, it was not ratified by enough states by its July 1982 deadline. Amendments to the Constitution are proposed by a two-thirds majority vote in both houses in Congress and then require ratification, or approval, by three-fourths of the states.
The ERA was written by Alice Paul, a women's rights activist who was instrumental in the 1920 ratification of the 19th amendment, which guaranteed women's right to vote. The ERA was first introduced in Congress in 1923, and has been re-introduced in nearly every session of Congress since then.
Alice Paul's home in Washington D.C. has been the headquarters of the National Women's Party for decades and also the Sewell-Belmont House and Museum, the only museum in the nation's capitol that focuses on women's struggle for full equality.
The museum has a large collection of artifacts from the women's movement, including a searchable online database. It provides tours and is open to the public five days a week.