|Originally adopted in 1893, the Great Seal of the State of Wyoming
prominently features “Equal Rights”.
According to some, last Thursday saw the passage and addition of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the U.S. Constitution. Obviously, there was little splash because it didn’t happen. That didn’t stop several radical leftist groups and the office of President Joe Biden from releasing statements declaring that it either IS or SHOULD be part of the Constitution.
Tracing the history of the ERA from its introduction in 1923 to its passage through Congress in 1972 to this past week’s discussion shows the vast changes in the American political and moral landscape that have occurred in America, especially in the last five years.
In 1972, the ERA passed Congress with a supermajority of votes from the House of Representatives and the Senate. After approving a deadline of 1982, the ERA was released to the states for ratification. Because it was a proposed Constitutional Amendment, two thirds of the states had to ratify it as well. That year, 22 of the needed 38 states quickly ratified it, and eight more joined the following year. By 1977, five more had joined, bringing the total number to 35, just three short of the 38 states need to ratify the Amendment and make it a permanent part of the Constitution. But, as awareness grew of the implications of the ERA, five states quickly rescinded their ratification, and no other state joined before the 1982 deadline.
The reason? On its face, the text of the Equal Rights Amendment sounds like something everyone would agree with. It states, “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” Where controversy erupted in the 1970s was in the assertion that abortion was a fundamental part of equality according to the ERA. With the passage of Roe v. Wade in 1973, the abortion lobby desired to enshrine the practice of abortion in the Constitution itself.
A further reason for increasing opposition has risen over the past five years. Some in our society have openly argued that human sexuality is based upon fluid feelings rather than immutable biology. Consequently, the passage of the ERA today would not accomplish the purpose its authors intended in 1923. The ERA could be used to overturn its original meaning if men, declaring themselves to be women, insist upon invading the privacy of actual biological women. It could even be used to break the promise of Title IX, which gave young women opportunities to gain collegiate sports scholarships.
We have a proud tradition in Wyoming of leading the nation on issues of women’s rights.
- It was in Wyoming, in 1870, when Esther H. Morris became the first female justice of the peace in the nation.
- It was in Wyoming, in 1890, that women first voted in America.
- It was in Wyoming, in 1894, that the first woman was elected to statewide office. In that year, Estelle Reel became the Superintendent of Public Instruction.
- It was in Wyoming, in 1924, when Nellie Tayloe Ross was elected to replace her deceased husband, giving America its first female governor.
In Wyoming, the “Equality State,” we have always valued our ladies.
In Wyoming, we hold all lives, born and unborn to be of equal value. We also hold that men should not invade the rights of women.
The story of the ERA shows how far our culture has drifted over the past century – and why Christians insist that every person, man or woman, born or unborn, is created in the image of God and is of the highest value.