The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) is a proposed amendment to the United States [[Constitution]] that seeks to guarantee equal legal rights for all American citizens, regardless of sex. It is designed to end the legal distinctions between men and women in terms of divorce, property, employment, and other matters. ## Full text of the ERA "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." First introduced in Congress in 1923 by suffragist and women's rights activist [[Alice Paul]], the ERA has a long and complex history. It gained significant momentum in the 1960s and 1970s, fueled by the women's rights movement. In 1972, the ERA was passed by both houses of Congress and sent to the states for ratification. Initially, the ERA was given a seven-year deadline for ratification by the required 38 states (three-fourths of the states), which was later extended to 1982. However, by the time the extended deadline arrived, only 35 states had ratified the amendment, falling short of the necessary number. In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in the ERA, with Nevada (2017), Illinois (2018), and Virginia (2020) ratifying the amendment, bringing the total to 38 states. However, there are ongoing legal and procedural debates surrounding the legitimacy of the ratifications that occurred after the 1982 deadline, as well as the validity of five states that rescinded their ratification. See also: [[suffrage]], [[civil rights]]