WASHINGTON, D.C. (LifeSiteNews) — The U.S. Senate on Thursday voted against a resolution to revive the Democrat-backed Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) in spite of the fact that the deadline for ratification expired decades ago. Conservatives have slammed the ERA, arguing it would work as a trojan horse to protect abortion and LGBT ideology under federal law.
The U.S. Senate rejected the resolution to eliminate the ERA’s ratification deadline in a 51-47 vote Thursday.
Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) senior counsel Denise Harle, who also heads up the ADF’s Center for Life, praised the resolution’s failure in a Thursday press release, noting that the ERA “has been legally dead for decades, and attempting to ratify it after its expiration only undermines our rule of law.”
Most Republicans voted against the measure, whose GOP co-sponsors were pro-abortion Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine. CatholicVote director of government affairs Tom McClusky said the Thursday move by the Senate sends “the bill’s supporters back to the drawing table.”
The ERA has triggered widespread criticism from conservatives, who argue it’s unnecessary and would serve as a conduit for numerous leftist agenda items.
CatholicVote cited earlier warnings that the ERA could be used to crack down on “dissent against LGBTQ ideology,” since Section 1 of the ERA provides that: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.” CatholicVote noted that the definition of “sex” has been extensively broadened to encompass sexual orientation and gender identity.
That concern was also shared by Harle, who pointed out Thursday that “[w]e’ve seen increasing efforts from radical ideologues and activists to reject truth and redefine ‘sex,’ leaving the very word the ERA centers on subject to alarming reinterpretation.”
“That increases the danger that ‘sex’ becomes meaningless, further opening the door for men to compete – and dominate – [in] women’s sports, and for males to enter into shelters designed to protect women who have suffered domestic abuse, rape, and trafficking,” she warned.
Conservatives including McClusky and Harle also say the measure to pump life back into the ERA in the wake of the June 2022 rollback of Roe v. Wade would enable the government to once again secure abortion access and funding under federal law.
“The ERA could also be misused to force Americans to pay for abortions with their tax dollars and to strike down even modest state protections for mothers and their unborn children,” Harle said.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) also condemned the ERA for its abortion implications in February, arguing the amendment has been “celebrated … precisely because of its ability to overturn abortion laws throughout the country.”
“[A]bortion advocates in recent years have freely admitted that they intend to use the ERA to litigate such abortion claims and anticipate that such cases would be successful,” the USCCB wrote. Many pro-ERA campaigns and organizations claim that codifying Roe v. Wade (and going further than Roe) is one of the purposes of the ERA and is exactly what is intended by ‘equality’ for women.”
In addition to protecting abortion and gender ideology, the ERA could put traditional religious beliefs concerning roles pertaining to the sexes in the crosshairs of the federal government.
CatholicVote president Brian Burch said the amendment would subject “male-only clergy, marriage beliefs, and candid conversations about these matters” to being “policed by the whims of the federal government,” thereby cutting against pre-existing First Amendment rights.
Democrats have tried and failed for years to add an ERA to the U.S. Constitution. The Heritage Foundation, a well-known Washington, D.C.-based conservative think-tank, pointed out that “more than 1,100 resolutions proposing an Equal Rights Amendment have been introduced in Congress” and just one of those, “House Joint Resolution 208, proposed in 1972” achieved the “two-thirds support needed to be sent to the states.”
However, that resolution failed to achieve the needed approval from 38 states before the seven-year deadline. Congress attempted to set an extended deadline for ratification, but that also passed without obtaining the needed approval. Though a total of 38 states have voted to adopt the amendment in total, CNN noted that some did so after the deadline had passed and others withdrew their earlier support.
Citing the Congressional Research Services, which has stated that the Equal Rights Amendment “formally died on June 30, 1982,” the Heritage Foundation said that “[p]retending otherwise makes a mockery of the legislative process” and that efforts in 2023 to push for the amendment amount to “beating a dead horse.”