SALT LAKE CITY — Senate Joint Resolution 8, which would have Utah ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, looks unlikely to make progress in the state's 2021 legislative session, but ERA supporters are pleased that the resolution garnered bipartisan support in Utah this year.
“This was a monumental year in Utah’s stride toward federal equality for women and men,” said Emily Bell McCormick of The Policy Project in a news release. “We have for the first time garnished bi-partisan support of the Equal Rights Amendment—reflecting the sentiment of both our state’s history and our state today—that women and men should have equal access to the law.”
The Equal Rights Amendment, first proposed in 1923 and sent to the states for ratification in 1972, would alter the U.S. Constitution to guarantee equal legal rights for all American citizens, regardless of sex.
“Constitutional protection really undergirds and underlies all of our other law and so, when we talk about women finally having constitutional protection, that's strong. It’s mighty! And it means that women will more often find relief in the courts and that the hard-won rights that we have gained will be retained,” said Kelly Whited Jones, Utah ERA Coalition.
Utah is one of only 12 states that haven’t ratified the amendment.
On Tuesday, ERA supporters gathered at the Utah State Capitol to discuss this year’s progress of the bill and future plans to see it ratified in the Beehive State.
“The outcome of this legislative session for ERA was not new—nonetheless progress was made,” Kelly Whited Jones, chair of the UERAC said. “Much work has been done to better women’s lives—and we plan to continue that work in the form of ratifying the ERA—until full equality under the law is attained.”
Democratic State Senator Kathleen Riebe, Republican State Senator Kirk Cullimore and Democratic State Representative Karen Kwan co-sponsored the resolution this year.
The ERA’s long-time opponents include the Utah Eagle Forum and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Since 1896, Utah's own constitution includes language that guarantees women and men are treated equally.