Equal Rights Amend­ment has sup­port

Times-Herald (Vallejo) - - NEWS - By Maryclaire Dale and Jo­ce­lyn Noveck

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.

BOB BROWN — RICH­MOND TIMES-DIS­PATCH FILE

An Equal Rights Amend­ment sup­port­ers yell en­cour­age­ment to two leg­is­la­tors as they walk down a hall­way in­side the state Capi­tol in Rich­mond, Va.

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