Submitted by the Washington Ethical Society and Passed at the 100th AEU Assembly
Whereas, during the June 1971 63rd Annual Assembly, the American Ethical Union supported passage of the Equal Rights Amendment;
Whereas, in 1972, after 50 years of debate, the U.S. Congress imposed a seven-year ratification deadline, extended in 1978 for three years until June 30, 1982, despite no mention in the U.S. Constitution of deadlines for the ratification of Constitutional amendments;
Whereas, the most recent 27th “Madison Amendment,” dealing with Congressional pay raises, was ratified in 1992 after 203 years versus the ten years allocated to the Equal Rights Amendment;
Whereas, to draft and begin ratification for a new Equal Rights Amendment would ignore the efforts to achieve constitutional equality for women begun in 1923, and it would set a precedent for time limits for achieving equal rights;
Whereas, drafting and ratifying a new Equal Rights Amendment forfeits the previous two-thirds majority vote of the House of Representatives in 1971 and of the Senate in 1972 as well as the vote of thirty-five states that already ratified the Amendment between 1972 and 1977;
Whereas, the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment has not sufficed to guarantee to women equal rights under the US Constitution;
Whereas, to date, the only Constitutional right women have that cannot be taken away is the right to vote, obtained in 1920 after a 72-year struggle (19th Amendment);
Whereas, all current legislative protections against sex discrimination, such as the Equal Pay Act of 1963, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, Title IX of the Educational Amendments Act, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), and the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, can be modified, undermined, or repealed by a simple majority in Congress;
Whereas, a principle of Constitutional law holds that, “One legislature may not bind the legislative authority of its successors”;
Whereas, without an Equal Rights Amendment, the Supreme Court is not required to apply the highest “strict scrutiny standard” of judicial protection in cases of sex or gender discrimination as is applied in cases of racial, religious, and national origin discrimination;
Whereas, without a federal mandate to protect women’s rights on an equal basis with men’s, societal progress is not guaranteed, and is subject to the whims, biases, and ideology of those elected to power;
Whereas, if democratic societies are built upon the notion of equality for all human beings, then the path to achieve equality must exist in perpetuity;
Whereas, the American Ethical Union continues to oppose discrimination against any individual on the basis of sex or gender;
Now, Therefore Be It Resolved that the American Ethical Union supports the passage of a joint resolution, which would require Congress to eliminate its deadline for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment and allow the ratification process to continue without the deadline, as the Framers intended, to reach the approval of the three-fourths majority of States required for ratification.
Further Be It Resolved that the American Ethical Union will take action and urges its member Societies and fellowships for Ethical Culture, and the individual members of those Societies and fellowships, to advocate to their Congressional representatives and senators to eliminate Congress’ deadline for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment and to allow the ratification process to continue without the deadline, as the Framers intended, to reach the approval of the three-fourths majority of States required for ratification.