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2018-19

Ratify the Equal Rights Amendment

SENATOR IRIS MARTINEZ (IL)

Sponsored by: Sen. Iris Martínez (IL)

WHEREAS, according to the World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Gender Gap Index, the United States is ranked 49th out of 144 countries when it comes to gender equality; and,

WHEREAS, under current Supreme Court precedent, Constitutional protection against gender-based discrimination is based on generalized equal protection guarantees and subjected to a more relaxed, intermediate, level of scrutiny than the strict scrutiny applied to instances of discrimination involving race or nationality; and,

WHEREAS, 2017’s Women’s March, which at the time was, and may still be, the largest single protest in United States history, underscored that women correctly feel that they are still not treated equally and demand revindication; and,

WHEREAS, the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators has a long-standing tradition of advocating for women’s rights and equality, for example, adopting Resolutions, Nos. 2012-05 and 2012-13, calling for Pay Equity for Women and People of Color, and for Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, respectively; and,

WHEREAS, even after those Resolutions, conditions for women temporarily improved only to reverse course more recently; and,

WHEREAS, specifically, President Donald J. Trump revoked the 2014 Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order issued by then-President Barack Obama, which was meant to ensure that companies that have federal contracts comply with fourteen labor and civil rights laws, including disclosing wage-gaps and a banning forced arbitration clauses for sexual harassment, sexual assault or discrimination claims; and,

WHEREAS, women of color are particularly affected by the wage gap, as Hispanic women earn $0.54 and Black women earn $0.63 for every dollar their white male counterparts earn; and,

WHEREAS, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, Hispanic women will have to wait until the year 2233 and Black women will wait until 2124 for equal pay at the current rate; and,

WHEREAS, Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), which Congress sent to the states for ratification in 1972, states that:

Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by 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.

WHEREAS, in 2017, 35 years after the latest deadline, Nevada became the 36th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA); and,

WHEREAS, the Twenty-seventh Amendment, the most recent one to be adopted, was ratified over 200 years after it was introduced; and,

WHEREAS, on May 30, 2018, Illinois also ratified the ERA, putting it just state short of enshrinement in the U.S. Constitution; and,

WHEREAS, the ERA has not been ratified by Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Arizona, Oklahoma, and Utah; and,

WHEREAS, five states, Nebraska, Tennessee, Idaho, Kentucky, and South Dakota, have rescinded or withdrawn their ratifying votes, but such rescissions have never been validated, and in fact were rejected by Congress when New Jersey and Ohio attempted to withdraw their ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment; and,

WHEREAS, the Congressional Research Service published a report in 2013 concluding that Congress could simply vote to extend the previous deadline; and,

WHEREAS, according to a 2016 poll by the ERA Coalition/Fund for Women’s Equality, 94% of people said they would support an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would guarantee equal rights for both men and women; and,

WHEREAS, there is a record number of women running for office in 2018.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators reiterates its commitment to the principle that all people should be treated equally in the United States of America regardless of sex or gender classifications; and,

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators specifically supports legislation at the state and federal level that protects all people from sex or gender-based discrimination; and,

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators reiterates the need for pay equality, and calls for the principles of the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order to be restored to law by any and all appropriate means, at both the state and federal levels; and,

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators understands that the Equal Rights Amendment is an important step to guarantee equality and calls upon legislators from Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Arizona, Utah, Florida, Louisiana, South Carolina, North Carolina, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Virginia to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment; and,

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators calls upon Congress, the Courts and the Executive Branch of the Federal Government, to recognize that the ratifications are valid, and the ERA should be elevated to the Constitution.

THE NHCSL EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE UNANIMOUSLY APPROVED THIS RESOLUTION AT ITS SUMMER MEETING IN PHOENIX, ARIZONA ON AUGUST 18, 2018.

http://reports.weforum.org/global-gender-gap-report-2017/dataexplorer/?doing_wp_cron=1531930782.4292860031127929687500
2 Craig v. Boren, 429 U.S. 190 (1976) (holding that gender classifications are subject to “intermediate scrutiny”). 
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/womens-march-anti-donald-trump-womens-rights-largest-protest-demonstration-us-history-political-a7541081.html
https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/presidential-executive-order-revocation-federal-contracting-executive-orders/
https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2014/07/31/executive-order-fair-pay-and-safe-workplaces 
https://www.cnbc.com/2018/04/10/today-isnt-equal-pay-day-for-black-latina-or-native-american-women.html
https://iwpr.org/issue/employment-education-economic-change/pay-equity-discrimination/
8 NOTE: There is no Constitutional provision requiring amendment ratification deadlines. 
See, https://www.npr.org/2018/06/02/616392722/an-equal-rights-amendment-in-virginia
https://www.chicagolawbulletin.com/archives/2017/05/01/equal-rights-amd-fight-5-1-17
10 https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2018/05/31/615832255/one-more-to-go-illinois-ratifies-equal-rights-amendment
11 http://www.equalrightsamendment.org/ratification.htm
12 https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R42979.pdf
13 https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/breaking-americansby-94---overwhelmingly-support-the-equal-rights-amendment-era-300286472.html
14 https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/4/6/17205790/women-running-congress-house-2018-record