Equal Rights Amendment
The call for an equal rights amendment to the US Constitution started in 1923 when Alice Paul announced she was working to make sure that men and women had equal rights throughout the United States. The ERA was introduced every congressional session from 1923 until it was finally passed in 1972. The 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.” Similar to the 19th Amendment, the amendment got 22 ratifications in the first year but stalled and failed to get the required states by the 1982 deadline.
Utah was one of the early states to ratify the 19th Amendment but the state legislature drug its feet on the Equal Rights Amendment. After failing in 1972, women’s groups around Utah were formed to fight for the ERA. Women like Gaye Littleton and Beverly Dalley helped to create the Weber County E.R.A. Coalition. The women fought every year for the passage of the amendment and faced defeat after defeat through the early 1980s. They worked to fight against the misinformation that surrounded the amendment and divisive attitudes among Utah women including the ideas that the amendment would “strike at the family” and “stifled many god-given feminine instincts.” The amendment has been reintroduced in the 2020 session of the Utah Legislature.