In 1972 the proposed Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the U.S. Constitution passed both houses of the U.S. Congress and was sent to the states for ratification. By a 1982 deadline, only 35 of the required 38 states had ratified the ERA.
The ERA has been introduced into every Congress since 1982. Beginning in 1994, ERA advocates have been pursuing two different routes to ratification:
- the traditional process described in Article V of the Constitution, requiring passage by a two-thirds majority in the Senate and the House of Representatives, followed by ratification by three-quarters (38) of the 50 states; this is known as the START OVER strategy, and
- ratification by three of the 15 state legislatures that did not ratify the ERA in 1972-82, based on legal analysis that when three more states vote yes, this three-state strategy could withstand legal challenge and put the ERA into the Constitution, known as the THREE-STATE strategy. However on March 22, 2017, Nevada changed the math when it ratified the Equal Rights Amendment and turned this into the TWO-STATE strategy!
From 1972 to 1982, the North Carolina General Assembly (NCGA) deliberated ERA ratification unsuccessfully six times. No ERA advocacy efforts ensued in the NCGA from 1982 to 2014. However, in March 2015, using the three-state strategy, supporters of the ERA led by RATIFY ERA-NC (Co-Chairs Roberta Madden and Nancy Glowacki) and NC4ERA (Chair, Marena Groll) joined forces to have the ERA re-introduced in the NCGA. Lead sponsors of the bills were Representative Carla Cunningham and Senator Floyd McKissick. The bills did not make it out of their committees that year – a scenario repeated in the 2017-18 General Assembly session as well, but ERA activists in North Carolina remain undeterred!