Annotation: Proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
The major issue that split feminists during the 1920s was a proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution outlawing discrimination based on sex. The issue pitted the interests of professional women against those of working class women, many of whom feared that the amendment would prohibit "protective legislation" that stipulated minimum wages and maximum hours for female workers.
Alice Paul, the leader of the National Women’s Party, wrote the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) that was first introduced to Congress three years after women won the right to vote. Since 1923, the ERA has been introduced in every session of Congress. It finally passed in 1972 and was sent to the states for ratification. The amendment required the approval of 38 states in order to be added to the Constitution. By the deadline in 1982, only 35 states had ratified the amendment.
Section 1. Equality of Rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or 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.