Following Illinois’s long-awaited ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) this week, women’s rights advocates turned their attention to the 13 states that have yet to pass the amendment, 46 years after it was overwhelmingly passed by Congress and 36 years after a deadline for ratification passed.
With 37 states now having ratified the ERA, just one more state needs to take the step to win the approval of two-thirds of the states, which would bring the amendment one step closer to being added to the U.S. Constitution.
“Anything is possible,” Bettina Hager, the Washington, D.C. director of the ERA Coalition, told Virginia’s Richmond Times-Dispatch of the amendment’s chances at the federal level. “We haven’t had the momentum we have now.”
Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, and Virginia have yet to sign off on the ERA. An effort to ratify it in Virginia’s Republican-controlled legislature failed in February, with nine male lawmakers on the state’s Senate Rules Committee overruling the five senators who supported the amendment.
Still, activists are now focusing their energy on Virginia as well as North Carolina and Georgia according to the Times-Dispatch, in an attempt to find the 38th state that will pass the amendment. Once 38 states ratify the ERA, Congress could vote to extend the ratification deadline—which passed in 1982—clearing the way for the amendment to become constitutional law.
Advocates from some of the 13 remaining states posted on social media about efforts to become the 38th state.
The ERA states that “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 first ERA was proposed in Congress in 1923, three years after the 19th amendment gave women the right to vote. However, it was not passed until 1972.
The National Organization for Women (NOW) noted that the #MeToo movement deserved credit for mobilizing nationwide efforts to ensure equal rights for women in recent months, contributing to a resurgence of ERA advocacy.
“The #MeToo movement has underscored the importance of strong legal protections for women’s rights, and our resolve to secure these Constitutional guarantees is unwavering,” NOW’s President Toni Van Pelt told NPR on Wednesday.