BUSINESS + ECONOMY

Should Utah ratify the Equal Rights Amendment?

Feb 5, 2024, 10:55 AM

A new proposal for lawmakers would have Utah ratify the ERA....

(AP photo/Rick Bowmer)

(AP photo/Rick Bowmer)

SALT LAKE CITY — Did you know Utah never ratified the Equal Rights Amendment? Before you get too critical, remember that Massachusetts, Georgia and Connecticut waited until 1939 to ratify the Bill of Rights! But this year, there is a movement before the Utah legislature, led by Senate Minority Whip Kathleen Riebe, to have Utah ratify the ERA.

Originally approved by Congress in 1972, the Equal Rights Amendment 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.”

By 1977, 35 states had ratified the amendment, three short of the required 38.

Congress extended the deadline to get the 35 states needed to 1982, but when that date came, no additional states had jumped on board. Five states revoked their earlier support. Since 1982, three states have voted to ratify the amendment. This all spells out a recipe for legal limbo.

Should Utah ratify the ERA?

That question was put to the guests this week on A Woman’s View on KSL NewsRadio.

“I really appreciate Senator Riebe for bringing this forward,” said Trish Hatch, the coordinator of the Utah CASA program. “I feel like she is doing what her constituents are asking her to do. I look at what our legislature has accomplished so far this year on things that affect less than 1% of our population… the bathroom bill and the DEI — they’re just so misguided. I’m happy someone is listening to their constituents. Does this need to pass? Absolutely.”

Hatch read the comments on the article on KSL.com.

“It was mostly men, and it devolved very quickly into gender pay,” she explained. “This was all about women wanting to get paid for not doing half the work that men do. The comments were really ignorant. Not ignorant as in rude, but ignorant as in really uneducated.”

“Women aren’t athletic trainers”

Lisa Walker is a certified athletic trainer and teacher at Springville High School.

“I am certainly not opposed to it happening,” she said, referring to the ratification of the ERA. “I look at it and say — it’s too bad that we have to have this type of thing on the books. Why don’t people just recognize that whatever — male, female, trans, whatever color you are, whatever religion you are — we should all be treated equal and rewarded accordingly for our work?”

Walker shared her personal experience.

“When I started my career, I wanted to be an athletic trainer,” she said. “I was told ‘Women are not athletic trainers.’ I came back eight years later and said, ‘I want to be an athletic trainer.’ This time they said, ‘This is an amazing up-and-coming field for women’.”

Walker shared that her mentor had never been allowed to do her work on a football field.

“I’m not on the ground-level female pioneer,” she said. “But I’m close.”

How can we still be talking about this?

Barbara Smith is the Director of Communications for Sandy City and a former news anchor for ABC4.

“I am a little surprised that we’re still talking about the ERA 50 years later,” she said. “I’m surprised that we never ratified the amendment. While the constitution of Utah protects our civil, political and religious rights, does it really cover everything that’s in that amendment? I don’t think so.”

“We live in a state where women make 70% of what men make, which makes us dead last,” Smith continued. “That equates, depending on what kind of job you have, to $80,000 – $800,000 over your lifetime of employment.”

That’s a lot of money.

Smith referred to a nationwide study conducted by Duke University that showed female graduates in the exact same profession (physician researchers) were paid $12,000 less than male graduates right out of the gate.

“Explain to me why somebody who has the exact same education and is doing the exact same job is worth $12,000 less than their male counterpart,” she said.

We want to hear from you.

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

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Should Utah ratify the Equal Rights Amendment?