When discussing the ERA and ERA Bills currently in the Minnesota and federal legislatures, it’s important to back up your opinions with facts. These talking points can help you stay on track and formulate your own responses to why we need an ERA.
- The equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment has never been interpreted to guarantee equal rights in the same way an Equal Rights Amendment will do. Only since 1971 has the 14th Amendment been applied to sex discrimination. Yet when Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia voted against the Lily Ledbetter Act, he declared that the U.S. Constitution does not prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex. That’s why we need the ERA.
- We need a clearer, stricter judicial standard for deciding cases of sex and gender discrimination. Sex and gender discrimination should get strict judicial scrutiny just as religion, country of origin, and race do; but it currently receives only intermediate scrutiny.
- We need an ERA to unleash women from ‘pink collar jobs’, i.e., low paid occupations. Currently women too often are tracked into jobs that are typically paid less than jobs in industry which are male dominated. Roughly two-thirds of minimum-wage earners, essential workers, and seniors living below the poverty level are women.
- Removing discrimination in the workplace will strengthen our business economy: firms with more women in leadership are more profitable (Harvard Business Review, Feb. 8, 2016; Credit Suisse Report- The CS Gender 3000, 2014). Constitutional equality will help.
- Racial disparities persist. Women make on average only $.82 for every dollar that men earned; and in Minnesota, according to the Minnesota Attorney General’s recent study, while white women received 18% less wages on average than white men, Asian American women received 25% less wages than white men, African American women received 40% less, and Latinas received 45% less. And women here with a master’s degree working full-time earn $1,018 less per year than a comparable man with only a bachelor’s degree.
- Women and people with uteruses still get fired for being pregnant. Women fight and die for our country, but we still don’t have equal rights. Too often courts turn a blind eye to rape and sexual violence. Minnesota must lay the legal framework to protect people against rape and ensure that individuals who are rape survivors are not blamed for the assault. That’s why we need the ERA.
- We can’t be the beacon of light to the world until we address equal justice under law. The ERA spells out equality under the law.