Equal Rights Amendment has support
PHILADELPHIA >> LaVonne Hirashima had two children by the time she was 20 and no time to get a college degree. Instead, the single parent doubled down at work and built a stable career in information technology, and now works for a government contractor.
Still, Hirashima, 48, said she lost out on promotions and pay raises because she’s not part of the boys club in the male-dominated IT world. Those experiences shape her deep support for the Equal Rights Amendment, the change to the U.S. Constitution proposed five decades ago to ban discrimination on the basis of sex.
“I can express an idea or make suggestions, but it’s still not taken (seriously),” said Hirashima, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, who is now married with three sons. “As more women come into management I think it will change, but it’s hard. It’s hard to change that culture.”
A new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research shows that roughly 3 in 4 Americans support the gender equality amendment, which is now back before Congress following Virginia’s ratification of the measure in January. But nearly the same amount, 72%, incorrectly believe the Constitution now guarantees men and women equal rights under the law.
“Wow, that’s amazing,” said Demetria Fraley, a 33-year-old mother of six in Raleigh, North Carolina, when told there is no such explicit constitutional guarantee. “I never knew that . ... I’m thinking, things are changing, but apparently they’re not.”
The ERA, which would stipulate that equal rights cannot be denied or curtailed on the basis of gender, is back in the headlines because Virginia became the 38th state to ratify it — satisfying the requirement that three-quarters of states approve it following Congress’ passage of the measure in 1972.
However, legal hurdles could yet keep the ERA from becoming the 28th amendment. Congress initially required the states ratify it by 1977, a deadline they later extended to 1982.
An Equal Rights Amendment supporters yell encouragement to two legislators as they walk down a hallway inside the state Capitol in Richmond, Va.