Push under way to pass Equal Rights Amendment: New effort reflects liberals' newfound power since November

 WASHINGTON — Federal and state lawmakers have launched a new drive to pass the Equal Rights Amendment, reviving a feminist goal that faltered a quarter-century ago when the measure did not gain approval by three-quarters of state legislatures.

The amendment, which came three states short of enactment in 1982, has been introduced in five state legislatures since January. Tuesday, House and Senate Democrats reintroduced the measure under a new name — the Women's Equality Amendment — and vowed to bring it to a vote in both chambers by the end of the session.

The renewed push to pass the ERA, which passed the House and Senate overwhelmingly in 1972 and was ratified by 35 states before skidding to a halt, highlights liberals' renewed sense of power since November's elections. Legislators said they are seizing a political opportunity to enshrine women's rights in the Constitution.

"Elections have consequences, and isn't it true those consequences are good right now?" Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., asked a mostly female crowd Tuesday. "We are turning this country around, bit by bit, to put it in a more progressive direction."

The 52-word amendment has one key line: "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex." That sentence would subject legal claims of gender discrimination to the same strict scrutiny given by courts to allegations of racial discrimination.

Arkansas legislators endorsed the amendment this year, but the bill stalled in committee last week after Eagle Forum President Phyllis Schlafly came to Little Rock to testify against the measure.

Washington Post