Gloria Steinem shocked that Equal Rights Amendment isn’t law

February 20, 2022 GMT

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Feminist icon Gloria Steinem says it’s “insane” the U.S. Constitution’s Equal Rights Amendment still hasn’t been ratified, nearly a century after it was first proposed.

Steinem, an author, journalist and longtime political activist for women’s rights, said the constitution was “written by guys for guys — white guys.”

“There has always been a necessity of making it inclusive, as it is supposed to be. Otherwise it is not a democracy,” Steinem said Saturday.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that Steinem spoke to an audience of about 2,100 at Richmond’s Altria Theater and another 1,000 people who watched via livestream as she was interviewed by author and journalist Zainab Salbi as part of The Richmond Forum speaker series.

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“We are still fighting this battle, including in this state, which is absolutely crucial to the Equal Rights Amendment,” Steinem said.

The Equal Rights Amendment, which states 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,” was first proposed in Congress in 1923 but did not pass both houses of Congress until 1972.

In 2020, Virginia, under Democratic control of both the House and Senate, became the 38th state to ratify the amendment, reaching the required four-fifths of states to approve it. But that came long after a 1982 deadline set by Congress.

“It just is insane that we are only the democracy in the world that doesn’t assume that people are citizens regardless of gender,” she said.

Steinem’s remarks came just a day after Virginia formally withdrew from a federal lawsuit seeking to certify the Equal Rights Amendment into the U.S. Constitution. Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares’ office cited legal opinions arguing that Virginia’s ratification had come too late, rendering it null.

Steinem, a leader in the feminist movement since the 1960s, joked that every airport should have a billboard greeting international visitors with the message: “Welcome to the only democracy in the world that doesn’t include women in the constitution.”

An Equal Rights Amendment “is crucial and it affects a lot of different things,” Steinem said. “It affects insurance rates and how we vote in state legislatures.”