The morning after the 2022 election, Betty Folliard held an executive meeting of the group ERA Minnesota in her home. The meeting was part celebration, part call to action. The midterms swept Democrats into complete control of Minnesota government. Folliard, a former state lawmaker, sees that as a chance to secure more rights in the state Constitution.
“People woke up to the idea that, ‘oh, I see laws are fickle.’ Even federal laws and statutes and rules are fickle. They come and go with the prevailing political winds,” said Folliard. “This was critical for people to understand because we’ve been saying it for years.”
Folliard has been pushing for years to pass the Equal Rights Amendment in Minnesota, which would add language to the Constitution that says equal rights cannot be denied on account of gender. Despite a 1972 vote in the U.S. House and Senate to pass the Equal Rights Amendment, not enough states voted to ratify it by the deadline in 1982. Now neither the U.S. nor the Minnesota constitution has an amendment addressing gender equality.
The ERA’s supporters argue it would apply a more rigid standard of legal scrutiny in cases involving gender discrimination, but it’s failed to gain traction in the divided Legislature. Both chambers must approve a constitutional amendment in order to get it on the ballot.
In the state of Nevada, voters overwhelmingly voted to pass their own version of the Equal Rights Amendment that went further than most, prohibiting the infringement of rights based on “race, color, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, disability, ancestry or national origin.”
The Nevada language will be introduced in Minnesota in 2023. The group is also drafting a federal resolution. Folliard said a vote must happen this year because her organization needs all the time it can get to campaign statewide to pass the amendment on the 2024 ballot. In Minnesota, a nonvote for a constitutional amendment counts as a “no” vote.
(Source: Star Tribune)