Equal Rights for Women

Amendments to the Constitution to provide equality of rights for women have been reintroduced in every Congress from the 67th i n 1923 to the 100th in 1987. Also proposed in recent years, although not to date in the 100th Congress, has been legislation to improve women's rights without amending the Constitution: a statue to forbid enforcement of a classification based on sex -- except where necessary to achieve a “compelling state interest, " and a measure providing for selective revision of existing Federal laws that discriminate on the basis of sex.

SUMMARY ISSUE DEFINITION BACKGROUND AND ANALYSIS An E q u a l R i g h t s Amendment Military Service Abortion Homosexual R i g h t s S t a t e s ' Rights An E q u a l R i g h t s S t a t u t e S e l e c t i v e R e v i s i o n of E x i s t i n g D i s c r i m i n a t o r y Laws LEG1 SLATION CONGRESSIONAL HEARINGS, REPORTS, AND DOCUMENTS FOR ADDITIONAL READING EQUAL RIGHTS FOR WOMEN Amendments t o t h e C o n s t i t u t i o n t o p r o v i d e e q u a l i t y of r i g h t s f o r women h a v e been r e r n t r o d u c e d i n e v e r y Congress from t h e 6 7 t h i n 1923 t o t h e 1 0 0 t h i n 1987. Also proposed i n r e c e n t y e a r s , a i t h o u g h n o t t o d a t e i n t h e 1 0 0 t h C o n g r e s s , h a s been l e g i s l a t i o n t o improve women's r i g h t s w i t h o u t a m e n d i n g t h e C o n s t i t u t i o n : a s t a t u t e t o f o r b i d e n f o r c e m e n t of a e x c e p t where n e c e s s a r y t o a c h i e v e a c l a s s i f i c a t i o n b a s e d on s e x II c o m p e l l i n g s t a t e i n t e r e s t , " and a measure p r o v i d i n g f o r s e l e c t i v e r e v i s i o n of e x i s t i n g F e d e r a l l a w s t h a t d i s c r i m i n a t e on t h e b a s i s o f s e x . -- ISSUE DEFINITIOt4 Women's r i g h t s p r o p o s a l s b e f o r e t h e C o n g r e s s have r a i s e d q u e s t i o n s a s t o how t o b e s t p r o v i d e l e g a l e q u i t y f o r women and what e f f e c t e a c h o f t h e s e a p p r o a c h e s might h a v e on e x i s t i n g and f u t u r e laws c o n c e r n i n g women. BACKGROUND AND ANALYSIS P r o p o s a l s t o c l a r i f y t h e s t a t u s and l e g a l r i g h t s of women e x t e n d h i s t o r i c a l l y f r o m 1776 and A b i g a i l Adams' famous l e t t e r t o h e r husband a t t h e Second C o n t i n e n t a l Congress admonishing lawmakers t o "Remember t h e L a d i e s " t o p r e s e n t - d a y e f f o r t s t o add an Equal R i g h t s Amendment t o t h e Constitution. I n t h e 1 9 t h C e n t u r y , a n a t t e m p t was made t o i n c l u d e e q u a l i t y f o r women i n t h e 1 4 t h Amendment, which had been d e s i g n e d t o g u a r a n t e e r i g h t s and p r i v i l e g e s t o newly l i b e r a t e d b l a c k m a l e s . In wording t h e 1 4 t h Amendment, however, Congress d e p a r t e d from p r e v i o u s c o n s t i t u t i o n a l u s a g e r e f e r r i n g t o " p e r s o n s " o r " c i t i z e n s " and i n S e c t i o n 2 r e f e r r e d t h r e e t i m e s t o "male i n h a b i t a n t s " o r "male c i t i z e n s . " I n 1878, an amendment was p r o p o s e d s p e c i f i c a l l y a f f i r m i n g t h e r i g h t o f women' t o v o t e , which became t h e " S u f f r a g e , " o r 1 9 t h Amendment, upon r a t i f i c a t i o n i n 1920. An Equal R i g h t s Amendment (ERA) was f i r s t proposed i n C o n g r e s s i n i923. I t was i n t r o d u c e d i n v a r i o u s forms i n s u b s e q u e n t C o n g r e s s e s , f i n a l l y . w i n n i n g p a s s a g e i n t h e 92d C o n g r e s s i n 1972. Under t h e r e s o l v i n g c l a u s e , a 7-year d e a d l i n e was s e t f o r r a t i f i c a t i o n . I n 1978, when i t had been a p p r o v e d by 35 S t a t e s , t h r e e l e s s t h a n t h e n e c e s s a r y t h r e e - q u a r t e r s ( 3 8 ) , Congress voted t o extend t h e d e a d l i n e . No a d d i t i o n a l S t a t e s v o t e d f o r r a t i f i c a t i o n b e f o r e t h e new d e a d l i n e , however, and t h e m e a s u r e d i e d on J u n e 3 0 , 1982. ( F o r a d e t a i l e d d i s c u s s i o n of t h e 1972 proposed Equal R i g h t s Amendment, i t s l e g i s l a t i v e h i s t o r y , major arguments o f f e r e d f o r and a g a i n s t , and q u e s t i o n s r a i s e d by t h e e x t e n s i o n o f t h e r a t i f i c a t i o n p e r i o d , see CRS Report 85-154 GOV, The Proposed Equal R i g h t s Amendment, by L e s l i e Gladstone.) 1 and I n t h e 1 0 0 t h C o n g r e s s , an Equal R i g h t s Amendment (H.J.Res. S.J.Res. 1 ) h a s been r e i n t r o d u c e d i n t h e same form a s t h e 1972 p r o p o s a l . I t would p r o v i d e " e q u a l i t y o f r i g h t s under t h e law" f o r men and women. The Reagan A d m i n i s t r a t i o n i s opposed t o t h e Amendment and h a s n o t t a k e n a p o s i t i o n on t h e s t a t u t o r y p r o p o s a l , t h e Equal R i g h t s Act. In the 9 7 t h and 9 8 t h C o n g r e s s e s , t h e A d m i n i s t r a t i o n e n d o r s e d l e g i s l a t i o n t o r e v i s e s p e c i f i c d i s c r i m i n a t o r y laws. To a s s i s t i n t h i s p r o c e s s , t h e P r e s i d e n t c r e a t e d a Task F o r c e on Legal E q u i t y [ E x e c u t i v e O r d e r 123361 t o r e v i e w s e x d i s c r i m i n a t o r y F e d e r a l l a w s , r e g u l a t i o n s , a n d p r a c t i c e s and t o implement c h a n g e s o r d e r e d by t h e P r e s i d e n t . D e b a t e i n t h e 1 0 0 t h Congress i s e x p e c t e d t o f o c u s on t h e need f o r c o m p r e h e n s i v e c o v e r a g e o f women's r i g h t s by means o f a c o n s t i t u t i o n a l amendment v e r s u s a case-by-case l e g i s l a t i v e r e s p o n s e , which c a n t a k e i n t o c o n s i d e r a t i o n l e g i t i m a t e d i f f e r e n c e s between men and women. An Equal R i g h t s Amendment The proposed Equal R i g h t s Amendment, a s r e i n t r o d u c e d i n H.J.Res. 8.J.Res. 1, p r o v i d e s t h a t -- 1 and S e c t i o n 1. E q u a l i t y of r i g h t s under t h e law s h a l l n o t be d e n i e d o r a b r i d g e d by t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s o r by a n y S t a t e on a c c o u n t of s e x . S e c t i o n 2 . The C o n g r e s s s h a l l have t h e power t o e n f o r c e , by a p p r o p r i a t e l e g i s l a t i o n , t h e p r o v i s i o n s of t h i s article. S e c t i o n 3 . T h i s amendment s h a l l t a k e e f f e c t two y e a r s a f t e r t h e d a t e of r a t i f i c a t i o n . T h i s wording of t h e amendment i s i d e n t i c a l t o t h a t p a s s e d by t h e 92d C o n g r e s s i n 1972. I n 1971, i n r e s p o n s e t o o b j e c t i o n s from S e n a t o r E r v i n and s e v e r a l c o n s t i t u t i o n a l l a w y e r s , t h e wording of t h e e n f o r c e m e n t l a n g u a g e c o n t a i n e d i n t h e second s e c t i o n (which had r e a d s i n c e 1943: "Congress and t h e s e v e r a l S t a t e s s h a l l h a v e power w i t h i n t h e i r r e s p e c t i v e j u r i s d i c t i o n s , t o e n f o r c e t h i s a r t i c l e by a p p r o p r i a t e l e g i s l a t i o n " ) was changed t o conform t o t h e e n f o r c e m e n t l a n g u a g e of most t h e o t h e r 26 c o n s t i t u t i o n a l amendments now i n e f f e c t . E a r l i e r C o n g r e s s e s found l i t t l e d i s a g r e e m e n t w i t h t h e g e n e r a l i n t e n t A S e n a t e J u d i c i a r y Committee r e p o r t i n 1972 o f t h e p r o p o s e d amendment. ( s e e R e p o r t s and C o n g r e s s i o n a l Documents) i n t e r p r e t e d t h e s t a t e m e n t " E q u a l i t y o f r i g h t s u n d e r t h e law s h a l l n o t be d e n i e d o r a b r i d g e d by t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s o r by a n y S t a t e on a c c o u n t o f sex" t o mean t h a t s e x s h o u l d n o t be a f a c t o r i n d e t e r m i n i n g t h e l e g a l r i g h t s of men and women; t h a t t h e Amendment would a f f e c t o n l y g o v e r n m e n t a l a c t i o n , w i t h t h e p r i v a t e a c t i o n s and p r i v a t e r e l a t i o n s h i p s o f men and women l e f t u n a f f e c t e d ; and t h a t t h e o n l y r e q u i r e m e n t o f t h e Amendment was e q u a l t r e a t m e n t of i n d i v i d u a l s . The p r o p o s e d amendment a l s o gave Congress power t o e n f o r c e t h e s e p r o v i s i o n s ( t h e S t a t e s a l r e a d y possess such a u t h o r i t y under t h e i r g e n e r a l p o l i c e power) and p r o v i d e d t h a t t h e Amendment s h o u l d t a k e e f f e c t 2 y e a r s a f t e r t h e d a t e of r a t i f i c a t i o n . The e f f e c t of t h e Equal R i g h t s Amendment, a c c o r d i n g t o t h e 1972 S e n a t e R e p o r t , would be t o r e q u i r e t h a t Government a t a l l l e v e l s t r e a t I t would women and men e q u a l l y a s c i t i z e n s and i n d i v i d u a l s u n d e r t h e law. e l i m i n a t e from t h e law sex-based c l a s s i f i c a t i o n s t h a t s p e c i f i c a l l y d e n y e q u a l i t y of r i g h t s o r v i o l a t e t h e p r i n c i p l e o f nondiscrimination w i r h r e g a r d t o s e x . Thus, F e d e r a l o r S t a t e l a w s o r o f f i c i a l p r a c t i c e s t h a t now make a d i s c r i m i n a t o r y d i s t i n c t i o n between women and men would b e i n v a l i d u n d e r t h e Equal R i g h t s Amendment, and c e r t a i n r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s and p r o t e c t i o n s which once w e r e , o r a r e now, e x t e n d e d o n l y t o members of o n e s e x would be e i t h e r e x t e n d e d t o b o t h s e x e s o r e l i m i n a t e d e n t i r e l y . A l t h o u g h t h e r e h a s been g e n e r a l agreement on t h e i n t e n t o f t h e Amendment, t h e r e h a s been d i s a g r e e m e n t a s t o w h e t h e r a n amendment i s t h e b e s t v e h i c l e f o r a s s u r i n g e q u a l i t y f o r women. One p o i n t of v i e w i s t h a t o n l y a n amendment can p r o v i d e p r o t e c t i o n a g a i n s t s e x d i s c r i m i n a t i o n c o m p a r a b l e t o t h a t now p r o v i d e d a g a i n s t d i s c r i m i n a t i o n on t h e b a s i s of r a c e u n d e r t h e 1 4 t h Amendment. Proponents of t h i s p o s i t i o n n o t e t h a t t h e he 1 4 t h h e n a m e n c L O c l a i m s o f s e x Supreme Court's a p p l i c a t i o n of discrimination h a s been i n c o n s i s t e n t , and t h a t i t s s t a n d a r d f o r j u d g i n g s e x d i s c r i m i n a t i o n h a s been l e s s s t r i c t t h a n t h e s t a n d a r d used i n j u d g i n g o t h e r k i n d s of d i s c r i m i n a t i o n . S i n c e t h e 1 4 t h Amendment was w r i t t e n t o p r o v i d e " e q u a l p r o t e c t i o n o f t h e laws" t o b l a c k m a l e s i t was e x t e n d e d t o women o n l y by r e c e n t i n t e r p r e t a t i o n i t i s argued t h a t t h e l e g i s l a t i v e h i s t o r y of t h e 1 4 t h Amendment's e q u a l p r o t e c t i o n c l a u s e p r o v i d e s no g u i d e f o r a p p l y i n g i t t o s e x d i s c r i m i n a t i o n , n o r h a s t h e C o u r t i t s e l f d e v i s e d a c o n s i s t e n t s t a n d a r d of a n a l y s i s f o r u s e i n j u d g i n g s u c h cases. -- -- P r o p o n e n t s a l s o b e l i e v e t h a t a c o n s t i t u t i o n a l d e c l a r a t i o n t h a t no i n d i v i d u a l may be d i s c r i m i n a t e d a g a i n s t on t h e b a s i s o f s e x i s n e c e s s a r y t o e s t a b l i s h t h i s p r i n c i p l e p e r m a n e n t l y a s a f u n d a m e n t a l p o l i c y of Government. I n r e s p o n s e t o t h e argument t h a t t h e amendment a p p r o a c h would b e t o o s w e e p i n g , p r o p o n e n t s o b s e r v e t h a t t h e Amendment would o f n e c e s s i t y be m o d i f i e d by o t h e r r i g h t s g u a r a n t e e d under t h e C o n s t i t u t i o n ( t h e r i g h t of p r i v a c y , f o r e x a m p l e , w i t h r e s p e c t t o s e x s e g r e g a t i o n of r e s t rooms and i n s t i t u t i o n a l accommodations) and a p p l i e d w i t h i n t h e r u l e s of constitutional practice. Opponents of a n Amendment a r g u e t h a t t h e p r e s e n t method of a p p l y i n g t h e 1 4 t h Amendment, on a case-by-case b a s i s and u s i n g t h e c u r r e n t s t a n d a r d of r e v i e w , o f f e r s more f l e x i b i l i t y o f i n t e r p r e t a t i o n t h a n t h e p r o p o s e d ERA, which would b a r a l l d i s t i n c t i o n s based on s e x . T h i s i d e a i s c l o s e l y a l l i e d w i t h t h e view t h a t women and men s h o u l d n o t a l w a y s r e c e i v e e q u a l t r e a t m e n t , due t o d i f f e r e n c e s i n p h y s i c a l c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s and t r a d i t i o n a l social roles. They n o t e t h a t by u s i n g c u r r e n t 1 4 t h Amendment r e v i e w s t a n d a r d s , t h e Supreme C o u r t h a s been a b l e t o uphold t h e r e g i s t r a t i o n o f m a l e s f o r t h e d r a f t , b u t n o t f e m a l e s and t o p r e s e r v e a S t a t e t a x e x e m p t i o n t h a t b e n e f i t s some widows, b u t n o t comparably s i t u a t e d widowers. A n o t h e r v i e w of t h e Amendment h o l d s t h a t t h e Amendment i n i t s p r e s e n t form would n o t n e c e s s a r i l y p r o v i d e a d d i t i o n a l p r o t e c t i o n a g a i n s t s e x discrimination. According t o t h i s view, t h e Amendment a s p r o p o s e d may b e r e d u n d a n t b e c a u s e i n 1971 t h e C o u r t began t o a p p l y t h e 1 4 t h Amendment t o c l a s s i f i c a t i o n s based on s e x . By t h i s argument, t h e Amendment a s p r o p o s e d c o u l d have been i n t e r p r e t e d by t h e Court e i t h e r a s a r e i n f o r c e m e n t o f c u r r e n t s t a n d a r d s o f r e v i e w o r a s a mandate f o r more s t r i n g e n t o n e s . To i n s u r e t h e s t r i c t e s t s c r u t i n y of d i s c r i m i n a t i o n on t h e b a s i s o f s e x , t h e y b e l i e v e new wording would have t o be added t o s p e c i f y an " e f f e c t s " t e s t , i.e., t h a t any law h a v i n g a d i s c r i m i n a t o r y e f f e c t would b e i n be i n v i o l a t i o n of t h e Equal P r o t e c t i o n C l a u s e o f t h e 1 4 t h Amendment. The p o s s i b l e i n f l u e n c e of t h e Amendment on s p e c i f i c a r e a s o f l a w , e s p e c i a l l y t h o s e c o n c e r n i n g m i l i t a r y s e r v i c e , a b o r t i o n and a b o r t i o n f u n d i n g , homosexual r i g h t s , and S t a t e s ' r i g h t s i s a l s o q u e s t i o n e d . Arguments c o n c e r n i n g t h e s e i s s u e s may be summarized a s f o l l o w s : Military Service A c c o r d i n g t o t h e 1972 S e n a t e J u d i c i a r y C o m n i t t e e R e p o r t on t h e e f f e c c s of t h e ERA, i f t h e ERA were i n e f f e c r and a d r a f t were r e l n s c a t e d , C o n g r e s s would be r e q u i r e d t o t r e a t e q u a l l y women and men who met p h y s i c a l a n d o t h e r r e q u i r e m e n t s and who were n o t exempt o r d e f e r r e d by law. Concern h a s been v o i c e d t h a t t h e Amendment a l s o would r e q u i r e t h a t women b e a s s i g n e d combat r o l e s i n t h e same manner and i n t h e same numbers a s men. Those who d i s a g r e e w i t h t h i s p r e m i s e a r g u e t h a t a s s i g n m e n t t o p a r t i c u l a r k i n d s o f d u t y , i n c l u d i n g combat o r c o m b a t - r e l a t e d d u t y , would be d e t e r m i n e d by t h e n e e d s of t h e s e r v i c e s t h e m s e l v e s and by C o n g r e s s , which i s empowered u n d e r A r t i c l e I o f t h e C o n s t i t u t i o n " t o p r o v i d e f o r t h e comnon d e f e n s e . " P r o p o n e n t s o f t h e amendment n o t e t h a t i n R o s t k e r v . G o l d b e r q ( 4 5 3 U.S. 5 7 1 , a 1981 Supreme C o u r t c a s e t e s t i n g t h e c o n s t i t u t i o n a l i t y of r e q u i r i n g t h e r e g i s t r a t i o n of males but not females f o r t h e d r a f t , t h e C o u r t d i s m i s s e d t h e argument t h a t t h e law was d i s c r i m i n a t o r y , r u l i n g t h a t "Congress was e n t i t l e d , i n t h e e x e r c i s e of i t s C o n s t i t u t i o n a l powers, t o f o c u s on t h e q u e s t i o n o f m i l i t a r y need r a t h e r than 'equity."' P r o p o n e n t s c i t e t h i s a s an example o f t h e way i n which r i g h t s u n d e r t h e ERA would b e m o d i f i e d by o t h e r p r o v i s i o n s o f t h e Constitution. . Abortion The i m p a c t of t h e ERA on a b o r t i o n and a b o r t i o n f u n d i n g d e p e n d s t o some e x t e n t upon t h e l e g i s l a t i v e h i s t o r y e s t a b l i s h e d by C o n g r e s s . It would a l s o depends on w h e t h e r t h e S u p r e m e . C o u r t , i n d e c i d i n g c a s e s o f s e x d i s c r i m i n a t i o n u n d e r a n ERA, c h o s e t o a p p l y a n " i n t e n t " t e s t , i . e . , f o r c i n g t h e p a r t y t o show t h a t t h e r e was a d i s c r i m i n a t o r y i n t e n t o r m o t i v e on t h e p a r t of t h e Government, o r w h e t h e r t h e Court would h a v e f o u n d t h a t an " e f f e c t s " t e s t , i.e., d i s p r o p o r t i o n a t e i m p a c t , was s u f f i c i e n t t o e s t a b l i s h a c a s e o f s e x d i s c r i m i n a t i o n under t h e ERA. The q u e s t i o n t o b e answered i n c a s e s c h a l l e n g i n g r e s t r i c t i o n s on a b o r t i o n o r a b o r t i o n f u n d i n g i s w h e t h e r d i s c r i m i n a t i o n based upon pregnancy c o n s t i t u t e s l e g a l l y prohibited sex discrimination. C l e a r l y , pregnancy d i s c r i m i n a t i o n i s s e x u a l - r e l a t e d , but t h e c r u c i a l i s s u e i s whether i t i s a p r o h i b i t e d p r a c t i c e i n t h e l e g a l sense. To d a t e , t h e r e have been no S t a t e c o u r t d e c i s i o n s ( i n S t a t e s w i t h S t a t e ERA'S) r u l i n g d e f i n i t i v e l y on t h e q u e s t i o n of w h e t h e r a S t a t e ERA i m p a c t s on a b o r t i o n a n d / o r a b o r t i o n f u n d i n g . The matter o f w h e t h e r t h e r e m i g h t be a n impact h a s been r a i s e d , and a r g u m e n t s made on b o t h s i d e s . Some p r o p o n e n t s of t h e ERA c o n t e n d t h a t t h e ERA would have no impact on a b o r t i o n a n d / o r i t s funding. They t h e o r i z e t h a t t h e a b i l i t y t o become p r e g n a n t stems f r o m a u n i q u e p h y s i c a l c h a r a c t e r i s t i c and would t h u s b e exempt from t h e ERA. Only women can become p r e g n a n t , i.e., the r e p r o d u c t i v e f u n c t i o n i s unique t o females. Thus, t h e y a r g u e , s i n c e men a r e n o t s i m i l a r l y s i t u a t e d i n t h i s c o n t e x t , t h e r e would be n o s e x d i s c r i m i n a t i o n u n d e r t h e ERA. T h i s would be c o n s i s t e n t w i t h t h e o n l y Supreme C o u r t p r e c e d e n t u n d e r t h e e q u a l p r o t e c t i o n c l a u s e w i t h r e s p e c t t o a r e g u l a t i o n h a v i n g an a d v e r s e impact on p r e g n a n t women. There a r e o t h e r ERA p r o p o n e n t s who a r g u e t o t h e c o n t r a r y . They p o i n t e d o u t t h a t t h e e f f e c t s o f d i s c r i m i n a t i n g on t h e b a s i s o f pregnancy were s u c h t h a t t h e r e i s g e n d e r d i s c r i m i n a t i o n . T h e r e were a l s o p r o p o n e n t s of t h e amendment who a r g u e t h a t t h e p h y s i c a l u n i q u e n e s s exemption h a s no a p p l i c a t i o n b e c a u s e t h e d i s c r i m i n a t i o n b a s e d on pregnancy i s n o t n e c e s s a r i l y c o n f i n e d e x c l u s i v e l y t o t h e reproductive function i t s e i f , i.e., only the r e p r o d u c t i v e a s p e c t would q u a l i f y f o r t h e axemption. R e g a r d i n g t h e q u e s t i o n of a b o r t i o n f u n d i n g , ERA p r o p o n e n t s i n c e r t a i n S t a t e ERA c a s e s h a v e a r g u e d i n c o m p l a i n t s and b r i e f s f i l e d b e f o r e S t a t e c o u r t s t h a t t o deny p u b l i c funds f o r abortion c o n s t i t u t e s sex d i s c r i m i n a t i o n ( s i n c e o n l y women c a n become p r e g n a n t ) and t h e y b e l i e v e t h a t t o s i n g l e o u t women and t o deny them f u n d s f o r t h i s p u r p o s e v i o l a t e s t h e S t a t e ERA'S i n q u e s t i o n . On t h e o t h e r hand, o p p o n e n t s o f t h e ERA and of a b o r t i o n , c i t i n g t h e s e v e r y same a r g u m e n t s , a l s o c o n t e n d t h a t t h e r e i s a p o s s i b i l i t y t h a t t h e ERA c o u l d broaden a women's r i g h t t o an a b o r t i o n a s w e l l a s mandate t h e e x p e n d i t u r e of p u b l i c money f o r a b o r t i o n . Homosexual R i g h t s The q u e s t i o n of w h e t h e r homosexual r i g h t s , s u c h a s homosexual m a r r i a g e , would be a f f e c t e d by p a s s a g e o f ERA a l s o h a s been r a i s e d . Those who b e l i e v e t h a t homosexual r i g h t s would n o t be a f f e c t e d a r g u e t h a t t h e ERA p e r t a i n s t o s e x d i s c r i m i n a t i o n , n o t t o s e x u a l p r e f e r e n c e . In a d d i t i o n , t h e r e c o r d o f t h e S e n a t e d e b a t e , p r i o r t o p a s s a g e of t h e ERA i n 1972, shows t h a t t h e ~ r n e n d m e n t ' s s p o n s o r s d i d n o t i n t e r p r e t i t t o r e q u i r e t h e l e g a l i z a t i o n o f homosexual m a r r i a g e s . I t i s believed q u i t e probable t h a t t h i s q u e s t i o n w i l l be r a i s e d a g a i n d u r i n g d e b a t e on t h e c u r r e n t l y p r o p o s e d ERA w i t h s i m i l a r r e s u l t s . I n interpreting l e g i s l a t i o n , Courts t r a d i t i o n a l l y r e f e r t o t h e l e g i s l a t i v e h i s t o r y t o determine t h e i n t e n t of Congress. S t a t e s ' Rights Some o p p o n e n t s of t h e ERA a r g u e t h a t S e c t i o n 2 of t h e p r o p o s e d Amendment, s t a t i n g t h a t "Congress s h a l l have power t o e n f o r c e t h i s a r t i c l e by a p p r o p r i a t e l e g i s l a t i o n , " would augment F e d e r a l power a t t h e e x p e n s e of t h e S t a t e s . P r o p o n e n t s of t h e Amendment p o i n t o u t , however, t h a t t h e 1 0 t h Amendment a l r e a d y r e s e r v e s t o t h e S t a t e s o r t o t h e p e o p l e " t h e powers n o t d e l e g a t e d t o t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s by t h e ~ o n s t i t u t i o n , " t h u s n e c e s s i t a t i n g t h a t t h e ERA d e l e g a t e e n f o r c e m e n t a u t h o r i t y o n l y t o t h e C o n g r e s s , t h e S t a t e s already having t h i s authority. An Equal R i g h t s S t a t u t e T h i s p r o p o s a l , i n t r o d u c e d i n p r e v i o u s C o n g r e s s e s , h a s been c o n s i d e r e d a n a l t e r n a t i v e t o t h e proposed Amendment and would e x t e n d by s t a t u t e t h e Equal P r o t e c t i o n C l a u s e of t h e 1 4 t h Amendment s o a s t o f o r b i d e n f o r c e m e n t of "a c l a s s i f i c a t i o n based on g e n d e r , " e x c e p t where s u c h a c l a s s i f i c a t i o n i s n e c e s s a r y t o a c h i e v e a " c o m p e l l i n g S t a t e i n t e r e s t . " I t would e s t a b l i s h a u n i f o r m n a t i o n w i d e s t a n d a r d g o v e r n i n g c l a s s i f i c a t i o n s b a s e d on s e x . In o t h e r words, t h e s t a n d a r d now a p p l i e d by t h e C o u r t t o c l a s s i f i c a t i o n s b a s e d on r a c e and n a t i o n a l o r i g i n would be a p p l i e d t o s e x a l s o . This p r o p o s a l , s h o u l d i t become law and s h o u l d i t be a c c e p t e d by t h e Supreme CSS- 7 C o u r t , would h a v e t h e e f f e c t o f e x t e n d i n g e q u a l Legal r i g h t s t o women by s t a t u t e r a t h e r t h a n by amendment o f t h e C o n s t i t u t i o n . The p r o v i s i o n s would a f f e c t a c t i o n s of F e d e r a l , S t a t e , and l o c a l g o v e r n m e n t s by p r o h i b i t i n g t h e making o r e n f o r c e m e n t by law of a n y c i a s s i f i c a t l o n b a s e d on g e n d e r u n l e s s s u c h a c i a s s i f i c a t i o n i s n e c e s s a r y t o a c h i e v e a c o m p e l l i n g i n t e r e s t o f t h a t government, and i s che l e a s t burdensome a l t e r n a t i v e p o s s i b l e . I n a d d i t i o n , t h e Equal R i g h t s S t a t u t e i n c l u d e d p r o v i s i o n s t o s p e c i f i c a l l y e x c e p t r e s t r i c t i o n s p r e s e n t l y e s t a b l i s h e d under T i t l e s 10, 5 0 , and 50 a p p e n d i x of t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s Code which p e r t a i n t o w a r , n a t i o n a l d e f e n s e , and t h e s e l e c t i v e s e r v i c e s y s t e m . Those who s u p p o r t t h i s a p p r o a c h b e l i e v e t h a t s u c h a method of i n s u r i n g e q u a l r i g h t s f o r women c o u l d p r o v i d e t h e b e n e f i t s c l a i m e d by t h e Amendment and i n a s h o r t e r t i m e , s i n c e i t would n o t need t o be r a t i f i e d by t h e S t a t e s . They a r g u e t h a t t h e s t a t u t o r y a p p r o a c h i s s i m p l e r and f a s t e r , r e q u i r i n g o n l y a m a j o r i t y v o t e o f b o t h Houses of C o n g r e s s and t h e s i g n a t u r e of t h e P r e s i d e n t t o become e f f e c t i v e . Although a s t a t u t e l a c k s t h e r e l a t i v e permanence o f a n amendment, t h e y n o t e t h a t o n c e r i g h t s a r e g r a n t e d they a r e d i f f i c u l t t o revoke. O p p o s i t i o n t o t h e statutory a p p r o a c h h a s been d i v i d e d . Some p o i n t o u t t h a t w h i l e Congress has a u t h o r i t y t o d e c l a r e t h a t sex i s a s u s p e c t c l a s s i f i c a t i o n i n m a t t e r s governed by F e d e r a l law, t h e C o n s t i t u t i o n a l v a l i d i t y of a p p l y i n g t h e s t a t u t e t o S t a t e s may be q u e s t i o n e d . They n o t e t h a t t h e Supreme C o u r t i s n o t r e q u i r e d t o uphold t h e c o n s t i t u t i o n a l i t y o f s u c h a f i n d i n g , and t h e r e i s no g u a r a n t e e t h a t t h e C o u r t would d e f e r t o C o n g r e s s ' judgment i n t h i s i n s t a n c e . T h i s g r o u p a l s o n o t e s t h a t a s t a t u t e c o u l d be changed more e a s i l y t h a n an amendment, a s t e p t h a t c o u l d s u b s t a n t i a l l y undermine t h e p u r p o s e of t h e s t a t u t e . O t h e r s oppose t h e s t a t u t o r y a p p r o a c h on g r o u n d s t h a t l e g i s l a t i o n i s u n n e c e s s a r y s i n c e t h e Supreme C o u r t a l r e a d y h a s power t o d e c l a r e s e x a " s u s p e c t " c l a s s i f i c a t i o n u n d e r t h e 1 4 t h Amendment. The e f f e c t of an Equal R i g h t s S t a t u t e on s p e c i f i c a r e a s o f t h e law, s u c h a s t h o s e p r e v i o u s l y d i s c u s s e d i n r e l a t i o n t o t h e Amendment, would b e t h e same a s u n d e r t h e Amendment, p r o v i d e d t h e C o u r t a c c e p t s C o n g r e s s ' judgment t h a t s e x s h o u l d be c o n s i d e r e d a " s u s p e c t " c l a s s i f i c a t i o n u n d e r t h e 1 4 t h Amendment. S e l e c t i v e Revision of E x i s t i n g ~ i s c r i m i n a t o r yLaws A l s o i n t r o d u c e d i n e a r l i e r C o n g r e s s e s and i n t h e 9 9 t h C o n g r e s s , t h i s p r o p o s a l would h a v e r e v i s e d a p p r o x i m a t e l y 100 e x i s t i n g F e d e r a l L a w s t h a t d i s c r i m i n a t e b e c a u s e o f s e x by removing from t h e Code c e r t a i n s t a t u t e s r u l e d u n c o n s t i c u c i o n a l o r by amending t h e law t o conform w i t h c u r r e n c legal practice. T y p i c a l l y , t h e b i l l would have r e p l a c e d s u c h s i n g l e - s e x words a s "males" w i t h l g p e r s o n s," o r "widows" w i t h "widows and widowers , I 1 o r "boys" w i t h "youths" o r "wife" w i t h "spouse." L e f t unchanged would h a v e been c e r t a i n sex-based s e c t i o n s o f t h e F e d e r a l Code p e r t a i n i n g t o combat l i m i t a t i o n s , t h e S e l e c t i v e S e c u r i t y Act and t h e C r i m i n a l Code. Some s p o n s o r s have viewed p r o p o s e d a s an a l t e r n a t i v e t o s u p p o r t e d a n amendment have n e u t r a l i z e s p e c i f i e d s t a t u t e s by F e d e r a l Code now Limited t o o n l y -- Service, and parts of the Social l e g i s l a t i v e r e v i s i o n such a s t h i s b i l l who a l s o an amendment, w h i l e o t h e r s s e e n i c a s an i n t e r i m s t e p i j h i c h would extending t o boch sexes p r o v i s i o n s s f t h e one s e x . -- Those who h a v e s u p p o r t e d s u c h l e g i s l a t i o n a s an a l t e r n a t i v e t o an amendment t e n d t o b e l i e v e t h a t r e f o r m s s h o u l d come g r a d u a l l y and t h a t more t i m e i s needed t o p r e p a r e f o r such b a s i c c h a n g e s a s would r e s u l t f r o m e l i m i n a t i n g a l l sex-based p r o v i s i o n s o f t h e F e d e r a l Code. Opponents of s e l e c t i v e r e v i s i o n of e x i s t i n g laws a s a method of p r o v i d i n g l e g a l e q u i t y suggest t h a t r e v i s i o n o r r e p e a l of e x i s t i n g s t a t u t e s c o u l d t a k e many y e a r s and was l i k e l y t o b e n e f i t t o o few women now a l i v e . Moreover, t h e y b e l i e v e t h a t t o be s u c c e s s f u l , s u c h r e v i s i o n s would r e q u i r e a s i n g l e , c o h e r e n t t h e o r y o f women's e q u a l i t y and c o n s i s t e n t a p p l i c a t i o n o f t h i s t h e o r y , which o n l y a n amendment c o u l d p r o v i d e . They s a y t h a t pieceineal l e g i s l a t i v e r e f o r m a l r e a d y h a s been p r a c t i c e d f o r a l m o s t a c e n t u r y and t h a t f u n d a m e n t a l change i n t h e l e g a l p o s i t i o n o f women i s now o v e r d u e . LEG1SLATION H.J.Res. 1 ( E d w a r d s ) / S . ~ . R e s . 1 (Kennedy) C o n s t i t u t i o n a l amendment. Provides t h a t e q u a l i t y of r i g h t s s h a l l n o t be d e n i e d o r a b r i d g e d by t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s o r by a n y S t a t e o n a c c o u n t of sex. I n t r o d u c e d i n t h e House and S e n a t e J a n . 6 , 1987; r e f e r r e d t o C o r n i t t e e s on t h e J u d i c i a r y . CONGRESSIONAL HEXRIMGS, REPORTS, AM) DOCUnEMTS U.S. Congress. Senate. C o m n i t t e e on t h e J u d i c i a r y . Subcommittee on t h e Constitution. The Impact o f t h e Equal R i g h t s Amendment. Hearings, 1. Washington, U.S. 9 8 t h C o n g r e s s , 1 s t and 2d s e s s i o n s on H.J.Res. Govt. P r i n t . O f f . , 1985. 2 v. U.S. Congress. S e n a t e . Committee on t h e J u d i c i a r y . Equal r i g h t s f o r men and women; r e p o r t t o g e t h e r w i t h i n d i v i d u a l v i e w s t o accompany S.J.Res. 9 and H.J.Res. 208. Washington, U.S. Govt. P r i n t . O f f . , 1972. 52 p. (92d C o n g r e s s , 2d s e s s i o n . S e n a t e r e p o r t no. 92-689) ----- Sex d i s c r i m i n a t i o n i n t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s Code Reform Act of 1985; r e p o r t on S. 86. Washington, U.S. Govt. P r i n t . O f f . , 1985. 98 p. ( 9 9 t h C o n g r e s s , 1 s t s e s s i o n . S e n a t e . R e p o r t no. 99-194) U.S. Congress. Senate. C o m n i t t e e on t h e J u d i c i a r y , Subcommittee on t h e Constitution. The impact o f t h e proposed Equal R i g h t s Amendment. [ P r e p a r e d by t h e C o n g r e s s i o n a l R e s e a r c h S e r v i c e , U.S. L i b r a r y o f C o n g r e s s . 1 Washington, U.S. Govt. P r i n t . Off O c t o b e r 1985. 140 p. ( S . P r t . 99-934) ., FOR ADDITIONAL BEAD1 WG Brown, B a r b a r a A . , Thomas I. Emerson, G a i l F a l k , and Ann E. Freedman. The Equal R i g h t s Amendment: a c o n s t i t u t i o n a l b a s i s f o r e q u a l r i g h t s f o r women. Y a l e law j o u r n a l , v. 8 0 , no. 5 , A p r i l 1971: 871-986. C o n s t i t u t i o n a l i n e q u a l i t y : The p o l i t i c a l f o r t u n e s of S t e i n e r , G i l b e r t Y. t h e Equal R i g h t s Amendment. The Brookings I n s t i t u t i o n , Washington, 1985. 113 p. U.S. L i b r a r y of Congress. C o n g r e s s i o n a l R e s e a r c h S e r v i c e . Equal R i g h t s Amendment: s e l e c t e d f l o o r d e b a t e and v o t e s [ b y ] M o r r i g e n e Holcomb. [ W a s h i n g t o n ] 1977. 4 3 p. CRS M u l t i l i t h 74-234 G ----- l e g a l a n a l y s i s o f t h e F o u r t e e n t h ~ m e n d m e n t ' s Equal P r o t e c t i o n c l a u s e and t h e p r o p o s e d Equal R i g h t s Amendment [ b y ] Karen J. Lewis. Mar. 11, 1985. [Washington] 27 p. A ----- A l e g a l a n a l y s i s o f t h e p o t e n t i a l impact of t h e p r o p o s e d Equal R i g h t s Amendment (ERA) o n homosexuals [ b y ] Karen J . Lewis. O c t . 1 2 , 1983. [ W a s h i n g t o n ] 18 p. ----- l e g a l a n a l y s i s o f t h e p o t e n t i a l impact of t h e p r o p o s e d E q u a l R i g h t s Amendment (ERA) on t h e r i g h t t o an a b o r t i o n o r t o t h e f u n d i n g o f a n a b o r t i o n [ b y ] Karen J . Lewis. Oct. 20, 1983 [ W a s h i n g t o n ] 7 1 p. A ----- The p r o p o s e d ' e q u a l r i g h t s amendment [ b y ] L e s l i e G l a d s t o n e . Mar. 2 5 , 1982; u p d a t e d Dec. 2 7 , 1982. 36 p. CRS R e p o r t 85-154 GOV ----- Sex d i s c r i m i n a t i o n and t h e U.S. Supreme C o u r t [ b y ] Karen J . Lewis. Aug. 3 , 1977. Updated Aug. 1984. [Washington] 76 p.