Utah lawmakers push for ERA ratification, reviving political battle

Jan 29, 2021, 5:31 PM

ERA Utah...

This Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019, photo, shows supporters of the Equal Rights Amendment as they rally at the Utah State Capitol, in Salt Lake City. The renewed national push to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment is coming to conservative Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

SALT LAKE CITY — The Equal Rights Amendment has returned to the Utah State Legislature. Sen. Kathleen Riebe, D-Cottonwood Heights, is pushing for the ratification of the amendment to the United States Constitution as a means to protecting equal rights. 

Under Senate Joint Resolution 8, Utah would officially ratify the amendment — bringing an end to the decades-long battle for constitutional protection from gender discrimination. 

“We have the opportunity to make a grand gesture to tout our history and promote the message of reaffirming the value of women,” the bill reads. “The message of ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment sets forth a narrative to inspire generations to come.” 

The decades-long political battle for the ERA

The ERA was first introduced to Congress nearly a century ago in 1928 by Alice Paul. After years of revisions, it was officially sent to states for ratification in 1972 after it passed both the Senate and the House. 

The catch? The amendment included a seven-year deadline to reach the 38-state threshold to ratify the amendment. 

By 1978 — one year before the deadline — the amendment only had support from 35 of the states. Congress voted to extend the deadline by three years until June 1982. However, no other states signed on by then. 

Ever since, someone reintroduces it in Congress pretty much every year.

In 2020, Virginia finally ratified the amendment, bringing it to the 38 states needed to add an amendment to the Constitution. But, the legal ramifications are still unclear. 

That’s because several states’ ratifications happened after the original deadline, posing certain legal challenges when it’s reintroduced to Congress. Five states who previously signed to ratify the amendment ended up rescinding their support — but none of these were considered valid. 

In short, Utah’s ratification would largely be symbolic because the amendment has already reached the 38-state margin. 

As more states ratify the amendment, Congress must vote to extend its own deadline before adding it as an official amendment. 

The ERA in Utah 

The ERA has somewhat of a contentious history with Utah. Rep. Karen Kwan, D-Murray, introduced a similar bill to the legislature last year, but it died on the floor before lawmakers considered it. 

During its cultural height, Utah was notorious in the 1960s and 70s for opposing the ERA — especially as church leaders publicly denounced the ratification. Church leaders published articles and lobbied against the legislation, arguing it would lead to increased abortions, unisex bathrooms and damage to families. 

However, Riebe argues it’s not much different from what Utah already protects in its state constitution. 

Article IV, Section 1 of the Utah Constitution guarantees “the rights of citizens […] to vote and hold office shall not be denied or abridged on account of sex.” It also protects equal rights and privileges for “both male and female citizens.” 

Some lawmakers argued the amendment would affect abortion laws or possibly require future military drafts to include women. 

However, the ERA is largely popular in the Beehive State. In fact, a 2020 poll from found 71% of Utahns support the ratification of the amendment. 

In 2019, the state legislature passed a joint resolution titled “Reaffirming the Value of Women,” which recommended these protections extend to the U.S. Constitution. 

“The scope of the Equal Rights Amendment fits with the language and intent of the Utah Constitution provision guaranteeing equal political rights,” the bill reads. “Our generation today and future generations will benefit from knowing our history of equal political rights.”


Other news from Capitol Hill: 

Lawmaker hopes for ‘mental change’ to prevent child sexual abuse through bill

Utah bill allowing any doctor to recommend medical marijuana prompts concern among some experts

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

All News

faith and journalism...

Amanda Dickson

Dickson: Where faith and journalism meet

SALT LAKE CITY — On a special edition of A Woman’s View, I sat down with the Executive Editor of Church News, Sarah Jane Weaver and Church News reporter Mary Richards. I wanted to understand how their careers in journalism intersected with their faith. “It is a great blessing for me to be able to […]

1 hour ago

SAINT GEORGE, Utah -- A high-speed pursuit started in St. George Saturday and ended in Mesquite, Ar...

Derrick Jones

Shots fired in southern Utah pursuit

St. George police pursued a man through southern Utah, Nevada, and Arizona after he attempted to break into a home.

2 hours ago



Threat of government shutdown ends as Congress passes a temporary funding plan and sends it to Biden

WASHINGTON (AP) — The threat of a federal government shutdown ended late Saturday, hours before a midnight deadline, as Congress approved a temporary funding bill to keep agencies open and sent the measure to President Joe Biden to sign. The rushed package drops aid to Ukraine, a White House priority opposed by a growing number of GOP […]

14 hours ago

the South Salt Lake Police Department announced they are searching for fourteen-year-old Easther Ra...

Derrick Jones

South Salt Lake Police Department searching for fourteen year old

SALT LAKE CITY — In a Facebook post, the South Salt Lake Police Department announced they are searching for fourteen-year-old Easther Rai. According to the post, Easther left home Saturday morning after 6:00 a.m.  According to the police, her safety is of great concern as she has no history of running away. Easther is 4’10” […]

16 hours ago

How the dating world has changed...

Aimee Cobabe and Carlos Artiles Fortun

How the dating world has changed, and how to navigate it

UTAH — The rise of online dating in the last ten years has fundamentally changed the game when it comes to finding a romantic match. The dating world is no longer dominated by mutual friends, high school sweethearts or meet-cutes. Millions of people are now using one or two dating apps as their primary dating […]

17 hours ago

A section of road in Fielding, Utah collapsed due to a bust in the waterline....

Derrick Jones

A section of road swept away by waterline burst in Fielding, Utah

A section of the road on 15600N in Fielding, Utah over the Malad River has collapsed due to a waterline bursting.

18 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Wellsville Mountains in the spring with a pond in the foreground...

Wasatch Property Management

Advantages of Renting Over Owning a Home

Renting allows you to enjoy luxury amenities and low maintenance without the long-term commitment and responsibilities of owning a home.

Clouds over a red rock vista in Hurricane, Utah...

Wasatch Property Management

Why Southern Utah is a Retirement Paradise

Retirement in southern Utah offers plenty of cultural and recreational opportunities. Find out all that this region has to offer.

Human hand holding a protest banner stop vaping message over a crowded street background....

Prosperous Utah Communities

Utah’s Battle to Protect Youth from Vaping Epidemic Faces New Threat as Proposed Rule Threatens Progress

Utah's strict standards of nicotine levels in vaping products are at risk, increasing health hazards associated with use. Read more about how you can advocate for a better future for Utah's youth.

Aerial photo of Bear Lake shoreline with canopies and people camped out on the beach...

Visit Bear Lake

Last-Minute Summer Vacation Planning? Check Out Bear Lake!

Bear Lake is the perfect getaway if you are last-minute summer vacation planning. Enjoy activities with your whole family at this iconic lake.

close up of rose marvel saliva blooms in purple...

Shannon Cavalero

Drought Tolerant Perennials for Utah

The best drought tolerant plants for Utah can handle high elevations, alkaline soils, excessive exposure to wind, and use of secondary water.

Utah lawmakers push for ERA ratification, reviving political battle