Ratify the Equal Rights Amendment

This is the year 2016. Isn’t it time women had equal rights in America?

Will you join me by signing a petition compelling your lawmakers to vote to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment?

“Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.”

The Equal Rights Amendment, first introduced in 1923 by Alice Paul, is an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that affirms that all citizens deserve equal rights under the law regardless of sex or gender. Seems self-evident, right?

Do you think that women’s equal rights are guaranteed by our constitution? Sadly, they are not.

The ERA never passed, leaving women’s rights up for interpretation. This imbalance has been demonstrated time and time again in the highest courts in the land, where women often lose even when clear bias is shown. Women’s rights are seemingly at the mercy of whoever is in office or on a judicial bench at any given time.

Here is what one of our most influential Supreme Court justices said on the matter of sex discrimination:

"Certainly the Constitution does not require discrimination on the basis of sex. The only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn't."
—Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia

While we in America may think that women are doing fine, the rest of the world does not. The United Nations has deemed the United States to be a country that does not adequately protect women’s human rights.

The Equal Rights Amendment may seem unnecessary to some, but the truth is American women do not have explicit rights under The Constitution. There are dozens of areas where a lack of equal rights negatively affects women and the families they support. Here are just a few:

• America is the only nation in the world with a rising maternal mortality rate.

• 10,000 abused women are turned away from shelters daily, a total of 3.65 million denied requests per year.

When looking specifically at the gender pay gap:

There is a direct correlation between underpaying mothers and child hunger. It is estimated that half of the 33 million women and children living in poverty in the United States would not be if women were paid their full dollar. Is it any wonder that 1 in 5 children in America go hungry?

Seventy-five percent of all African American children are being raised by full time working single mothers who are paid .60 cents on the dollar. Latinas earn .55 cents on the dollar, and white women make .78 cents compared to their white male counterparts. Our transgender sisters are faring even worse. They are four times as likely to have a household income under $10,000 and twice as likely to be unemployed.

Over the course of her working life, an American woman will lose between $400,000 and two million dollars due to wage discrimination.

The Equal Rights Amendment would provide an express constitutional basis to challenge sex-based discrimination. It would also ensure that laws and government actions that treat women differently are reviewed by the courts with the strictest of standards.

With the upcoming 2016 election we need to intensify the conversation around women's issues and compel our lawmakers to protect the basic civil and human rights of American women by passing the ERA. It is time that we finally make this happen for ourselves, our daughters, and for the future of our nation.

If even Supreme Court justices don’t believe the Constitution protects women from discrimination, let’s pass an amendment that will.

Please join me along with Kamala Lopez, the director of the upcoming documentary “Equal Means Equal,” the ERA Coalition, and Noreen Farrell of Equal Rights Advocates, to sign this petition for the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment


—Patricia Arquette

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Patricia Arquette with Equal Rights Advocates started this petition with a single signature, and now has 125,173 supporters. Start a petition today to change something you care about.