Sam Spence file photo
A woman holds a sign at the 2018 Charleston Women's March, billed a "Rally for Electoral Justice," at Brittlebank Park on Jan. 20, 2018.
On Tuesday night, Charleston City Council unanimously passed a resolution urging South Carolina lawmakers to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, an almost 100-year-old women's equality effort that has yet to be added to the U.S. Constitution.
Written by feminists and suffragettes Alice Paul and Crystal Eastman, the amendment was first introduced to Congress in 1923, according to the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center
It reads as follows:
Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.
Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.
The U.S. House and Senate passed the amendment in 1971 and 1972, respectively, but to this date, the document has not received the 38 state ratifications it needs to be added to the Constitution.
Thirty-seven states have approved it so far, meaning that the hard-fought effort only needs one more state, though it has run afoul
of multiple deadlines, and five states — Idaho, Kentucky, Nebraska, Tennessee, and South Dakota — have voted to rescind their ratifications.
Illinois was the latest state to ratify the amendment
Two joint resolutions calling for the passage of the ERA, H. 3340
and H. 3391
, are currently awaiting consideration in the S.C. General Assembly. They are co-sponsored by Reps. Peter McCoy and Leon Stavrinakis of Charleston, along with Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter of Orangeburg, the principal supporter of the proposal.
"I want to start building a coalition of folks to support this, because it’s all about timing and how you present things in the legislature," McCoy said in a phone interview with the City Paper
. "That gives us a serious boost of momentum what the City of Charleston did."
The S.C. House voted to ratify the ERA in 1972 by a vote of 83-0, but it did not pass in the Senate.
Multiple residents stood up to voice their support for Charleston's resolution last night, including Melinda Hamilton, president of Charleston's League of Women Voters.
"This city is an icon in the Deep South, and because the League works closely with the United Nations, this work is always being held up as an example for change for positive in the South," she said, before praising the work of state lawmakers on the ERA. "The league is so proud of the grit, the grace, and the leadership that is being represented by this bill."
Charleston's resolution urges S.C. lawmakers to ratify the amendment soon:
Now therefore be it resolved by the Mayor and City Council in Council assembled that the City of Charleston encourages and supports the timely passage by the South Carolina Legislature of the Equal Rights Amendment to the United States Constitution, making South Carolina the final state required to ratify the amendment.
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