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The Equal Rights Amendment: Why Controversy Ensured its Defeat?
Sigei Isaiah Kipngeno
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The Equal Rights Amendment: Why Controversy Ensured its Defeat?
Since time immemorial, controversies have played a fundamental role in shaping politics
of the world. Controversies led to either defeat or support of political agendas. Controversies
played an important part in the defeat of Amendment of Equal rights (Berkin et al, 2009). The
Equal rights amendment championed for equal rights for women. However, some groups felt
intimidated and sort to oppose the ratification of the Equal Rights. They came up with
controversies that worked to tarnish the amendment and hence later lead to its defeat (Baldez,
Epstein & Martin, 2006). Attributable to the above elucidations, this paper in writing seeks to
discuss why controversies resulted in the defeat of Amendment of Equal Rights.
On 1972, March 22nd, participants of the progressively voiced women’s movement
celebrated the enactment of the Equal Rights Amendment commonly denoted by the acronym
ERA. The amendment had had nearly close to seven years to be endorsed. The proposed
enactment called for “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the
United States or by any other state on account of sex.” Effectively and efficiently petitioning by
the organizations championing the rights of women led by enormous margins in the Congress
chambers in support of the petition to eliminate discrimination of gender. As the state hurriedly
initiated the process of ratification of the modification, several American women anticipated for
a future that embraced equality. However, these hopes were misplaced. In that, after ten years,
the ERA unsuccessful did not garner sufficient backing from states to add the amendment to the
American Constitution. Its failure is attributed to controversies created by the people who did not
support ERA (Brown, Emerson, Falk & Freedman, 1971).
Controversies managed to ensure the defeat of the ERA by counter arguing the benefits
that emanated from ERA. Controversies worked to make the ERA petition appear as if it comes
with detrimental effects. For instance, Phyllis Schlafly played a fundamental role in defaming the
ERA. In her arguments, she argued that the ERA would bring about undesirable effects to the
American Women. As a result of her controversial case, protective laws, as, for example, the
alimony and sexual assault would be removed from the amendment. Also, the rights given to a
mother to receive the custody of a child were withdrawn. Besides, the draft regarding all-male
was ruled as unconstitutional. Moreover, the other opposing groups came up with controversies
that the endorsement of ERA would cause a total unraveling of traditional American society
(Soule, & King, 2006).
Rationally, through controversies, the ERA works through the idea of gender equity in
the U.S. besides, through controversies like the one postulated by Phyliss Schlafly managed to
cause disunity amid other women. Therefore, regardless of the support that the movement of the
feminists had attracted, the controversies created against the ERA managed to bring down the
support and ratification of the Amendments of Women Rights (McCammon, Taylor, Reger &
Einwohner, 2017).
Baldez, L., Epstein, L., & Martin, A. D. (2006). Does the US Constitution Need an Equal Rights
Amendment?. The Journal of Legal Studies, 35(1), 243-283.
Berkin, Carol., Miller, Christopher., Cherny, Robert., & Gormly, James. (2009). Making
America: A History of the United States: from 1865. Wadsworth Pub Co.
Brown, B. A., Emerson, T. I., Falk, G., & Freedman, A. E. (1971). The equal rights amendment:
A constitutional basis for equal rights for women. The Yale Law Journal, 80(5), 871-985.
In McCammon, H. J., In Taylor, V. A., In Reger, J., & In Einwohner, R. L. (2017). The Oxford
handbook of U.S. women's social movement activism.
Soule, S. A., & King, B. G. (2006). The stages of the policy process and the equal rights
amendment, 19721982. American Journal of Sociology, 111(6), 1871-1909.

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