Legislative building

The North Carolina State Legislative Building in Raleigh houses the North Carolina General Assembly chambers and offices.

RALEIGH — Bills filed in both chambers of state legislature March 5 seek to make North Carolina the 38th state to ratify the long-proposed Equal Rights Amendment, in turn giving it approval from the necessary number of states to be accepted by Congress as an amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

N.C. House Bill 271 and Senate Bill 184 seek to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, as proposed by the 92nd U.S. Congress in the early 1970s.

“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 ERA states. “The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.”

Despite the ERA being several decades past its June 30, 1982, due date to receive 38 states’ approval required for ratification as a constitutional amendment, N.C. HB 271 and SB 184 said the precedent has previously been set for U.S. Congress to disregard that due date. According to a press release from the office of N.C. House Rep. Ray Russell (D-Boone), 35 out of 38 states ratified the proposed ERA prior to its 1982 deadline, followed more than 30 years later by Nevada and Illinois, who ratified in 2017 and 2018, respectively.

Russell said equal rights for women should be explicitly stated in the U.S. Constitution, as the ERA proposes.

“Women and men, children of mothers, grandchildren of grandmothers, and for many, including me, fathers of daughters — all of us have good reasons to make sure women have equal rights under the law,” Russell said in the press release. “It is past time we ratify the ERA.”

SB 184 is being introduced for a fifth year, as similar bills did not pass committee meetings in previous years, according to a press release from a co-sponsor of the bill, N.C. Sen. Joyce Waddell (D-Charlotte).

“Women have the right to be protected equally under the U.S. Constitution against discriminatory laws and regulations,” Waddell said in the press release. “It is not too late to stand on the right side of history and guarantee women’s equal rights under the U.S. Constitution.”

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