Happy Women’s History Month! We have so much to celebrate this month. Throughout history and to this present day, women continue to demonstrate resilience, hard work, and perseverance in the fight for bodily autonomy, the right to vote, pay equity, and constitutional representation.
Unfortunately, conservatives in the legislature continue to reject the long-overdue passage of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). Instead, they are pushing anti-choice legislation that undermines a woman’s right to choose and strips women of their power to make decisions about their bodies and health care.
According to ERA Minnesota, an activist coalition working to secure an Equal Rights Amendment into our state and federal constitutions, Minnesota is part of a minority of states that still does not recognize gender equality in their state constitutions.
The proposed ERA amendment, which passed the House in 2020 but was blocked by conservatives in the Senate, reads: “Equality under the law shall not be abridged or denied on account of gender.”
Proponents of the amendment argue that the ERA is necessary to prevent discrimination based on sex or gender. Without an ERA, Congress and the legislature have the power to replace existing laws with a simple majority vote.
Conservative gubernatorial candidate and former Senate Majority leader Paul Gazelka continuously has opposed the ERA. As leader, he dismissed the ERA and refused even to consider introducing it to the Senate despite 94% of Americans supporting constitutional gender equity.
Meanwhile, the very constitutional rights the ERA is working to protect are being attacked as we speak by conservatives in the Minnesota Legislature and conservative gubernatorial candidates. They are threatening to bring a Texas-style abortion ban to Minnesota.
Every conservative Minnesota governor candidate, including Paul Gazelka, Scott Jensen, Kendall Qualls, Rich Stanek, and Michelle Benson, supports restricting safe, legal abortion.
And most recently, at the latest conservative gubernatorial debate, the conservative candidates committed to restricting abortion access if elected.
Abortion restrictions disproportionately harm Black, Latino, and Indigenous communities, people with disabilities, people in rural areas, young people, immigrants, and those having difficulty making ends meet. No matter where you live or how much money you make, everyone deserves access to health care without barriers or political roadblocks.
ERA Minnesota says that abortion rights are only one facet of systemic gender inequality:
“Today women are disproportionately disadvantaged by the lack of paid family leave and dearth of affordable childcare; they are a majority of workers paid at or below minimum wage; women on average make 79 cents to a man’s dollar, a wage gap that is much more severe for Black, Indigenous, Latina, Asian, women of color and disabled women; two-thirds of seniors living below the poverty level are women; and today women fight and die for their country and still don’t have equal rights.”
Enough is enough. Without equal rights under the law, women are subject to further disenfranchisement. Conservatives in Minnesota need to pass the Equal Rights Amendment, stop the political grandstanding, and protect women’s constitutional right to choose.