Equal Rights Amendment
Section 1. Equality of Rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of sex.
Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.
The Equal Rights Amendment was written in 1921 by suffragist Alice Paul. It has been introduced in Congress every session since 1923. It passed Congress in the above form in 1972, but was not ratified by the necessary thirty-eight states by the July 1982 deadline. It was ratified by thirty-five states. It is still not part of the U.S. Constitution.
Supporters of the ERA have re-introduced the amendment into Congress every year since 1982 without success. Some opponents of the ERA argue that if reintroduced, it would need to gain the 35 ratifications all over again, in addition to the three still lacking. Some—but not all—ERA supporters argue that the earlier 35 ratifications are still valid, and that only three more are necessary without Congress having to resubmit the ERA.
Other supporters go further and say that the remaining three ratifications could come after the deadline set by Congress, and then be recognized by Congress retroactively. They argue that the history of the 27th amendment—which was ratified over 200 years after it was first proposed—proves the validity of their approach. However, unlike the ERA, the resolution proposing the 27th Amendment did not set any deadline for ratification.
Eulogy for the ERA
Mankind, Man-made, the Common Man, Man and his world, Neanderthal Man,
the best Man for the job, when Man invented the wheel, the Sun God,
Man's achievements, Man's basic needs, the history of Black Man in
America, one small step for Man, a giant step for Mankind. Man, like
other mammals, breast-feeds his young:
pressman, repairman, craftsman, chairman, conductor, railroad man,
salesman, newsboy, fireman, foreman
master, policeman, watchman-
clergyman, delivery man, fisherman,
We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men are created
equal- the farmer and his wife, the lawyer and his child, the poet and
his wife, the teacher and her class.
The Greeks mistreated their wives.
Columbus discovered America.
The settlers moved west with their wives and their cattle.
A man makes art because he has to, Doctor Jones and his pert wife Jane.
Marie Curie, the beautiful chemist, Elinor Wylie, the fiery redhead,
Amy Lowell, the queer duck!
Masculine: resembling man, having vigor and strength.
Feminine: resembling woman, showing delicacy and weakness.
I'll have my girl make your reservations.
Union members and their wives are invited. You drive like an old woman.
The ladies chatted about the draft. Sally's husband lets her work part-time.
Children look to their fathers for strength and courage.
In the delicate recesses of the female mind is the seed of love.
We look to:
wise men to free us from superstition
and from the old wife's tales of our forefathers.
The litany repeats.
Words and the people they create move in pilgrimage across the earth, a
woman, whose spine is a footprint.
Susan Bright 1978
Breaking the silence,
the stoic oblivion I repeatedly spin
in, trying to meet deadlines, find things,
give them away, breaking the silence
I allow unfolding —
wary perhaps, gated,
life force bursting through foliage,
scent, a printing press in the foyer,
Guadalupe on the front porch.
I find energy and purpose —
no time for chaos, barely enough
to do more laps in the pool, to cut through
water quickly, focus on emerald light,
laugh, cry, love, resist idiocy,
Breaking the silence, I loose the knot
that has suffocated me differently
a thousand times, release the survivor mind
from its house of masks, tricks, frog ponds,
the primal opera, things I can't fix,
a 1964 Chevy truck with no drive shaft.
I toss a flower into the creek, a prayer,
a daily promise to finally, gently, finely weave
the grief that ripped through my time on Earth
into a shroud of life, love, art, humor —
the black rose behind each breath.
©Susan Bright, 2005.
Susan Bright is the author of nineteen books of poetry. She is the editor of Plain View Press which since 1975 has published one-hundred-and-fifty books. Her work as a poet, publisher, activist and educator has taken her all over the United States and abroad.
Her most recent book, The Layers of Our Seeing, is a collection of poetry, photographs and essays about peace done in collaboration with photographer Alan Pogue and Middle Eastern journalist, Muna Hamzeh.