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Petition Says White House Should Support the Equal Rights Amendment

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Banner held by NOW (National Organization of Women).

CREDIT: Flickr/NationalNOW

A new petition urged the White House to support ratification efforts for the long-stalled Equal Rights Amendment, which would establish that legal rights cannot be withheld on the basis of gender.

When Congress passed the Equal Rights Amendment in 1972, only 35 states ratified the amendment, falling three short of what was required to adopt the law—though if three more states ratified it, the amendment may be able to be resurrected after four decades.

The petition, which has currently gathered nearly 18,000 signatures, also calls on the administration to support Congressional legislation that would eliminate the ratification deadline that expired in 1982.

“Many of us have been successful in our professions and have been lucky enough to work with employers who do not discriminate based on gender, but there is still a lot of social and cultural discrimination that goes unaddressed,” said Maria Heringer Jones, president of the Arkansas chapter of the American Association of University Women. “It is my hope that the ratification of the ERA would provide one of Malcolm Gladwell’s 'tipping points' for establishing a culture of equality for women.”

Surprisingly, Equal Rights Amendment remains a highly divisive issue. Some opponents, for example, argue that it would undermine “traditional” female roles and prevent women from receiving alimony or retaining custody of their children in a divorce.

Proposals to ratify the amendment have been introduced in state legislatures year after year, although none of the 15 states that failed to ratify the amendment have voted to do so during the post-ratification period. However, women’s groups like the American Association of University Women and the National Organization for Women continue to push hard for ratification.

Congress has reintroduced the law in every session since 1982.

If the petition gathers 25,000 signatures by February 10, a member of the Obama administration will issue an official response to the petition.

Molly Miller is a reporter for Campus Progress.

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