Thirty-five years past a deadline set by Congress, Nevada ratifies the Equal Rights Amendment


The moment felt historic enough that some lawmakers in Nevada’s Capitol autographed paper copies of the resolution.

Nevada’s state Assembly voted Monday 28-14 to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment — 35 years past the deadline set by Congress and four decades since the last state voted to adopt its language.

The vote marked a stirring victory for the resolution’s chief sponsor, Sen. Pat Spearman, the Las Vegas-based Democrat who had seen it fail previously when she tried to move the measure through the state legislature in 2015.

This month, the resolution narrowly passed the state Senate.

“We did it,” Spearman said shortly after the state Assembly vote. “It was overwhelming, but we did it. It shows that it’s never too late to support equality.”

The ERA was first proposed in 1920s, but Congress didn’t pass it until 1972. The key part of its text reads: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.”

Thirty-eight state legislatures needed to ratify the proposed amendment, but it fell short by three when the deadline expired in 1982. Many credit the defeat to the Eagle Forum, a conservative lobbying group, and its founder Phyllis Schlafly, who argued among other things that it would open women to being drafted into the military and combat.

Once the expiration date passed, groups such as the National Organization for Women adopted a “three-state strategy” in hopes of getting to the three-quarters goal needed for ratification. Some have suggested the 1982 deadline was arbitrary and believe Congress didn’t have the power to set a deadline for passage.

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