The state constitutions in 25 U.S. states contain a guarantee of equal rights on the basis of sex. North Carolina is not one of them. Therefore, without amending the U.S. Constitution, people in the other half of states across our nation — including in North Carolina — remain vulnerable to legal discrimination on the basis of sex.
But wait, aren’t women generally treated more fairly than they were around the middle of the last century before President Nixon signed the ERA and sent it to the states to ratify? Yep. Thankfully, Congress has put laws on the books like the Equal Pay Act, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and Titles VII and IX of the Civil Rights Act. Sadly, these laws don’t cover all aspects of discrimination on the basis of sex. There is more work to be done. And with forces working against equal rights for all, such laws run the risk of being weakened, repealed or poorly administered.
North Carolina needs to adopt the Equal Rights Amendment now. It’s past time to legally protect all North Carolinians and Americans against sex-based discrimination.
Let’s work together to make 2021 the year that North Carolina does its part to stop sex-based discrimination.
Mary Ellen M. Kustin