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Equal Rights Amendment

Delegates to the Kansas Equal Suffrage Association in 1916 in Topeka

Kansans have long fought for the rights of women. Men and women in 19th century Kansas worked for women's suffrage. Kansas women received the right to vote in municipal elections in 1887, and and full voting rights in 1912, in advance of the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920, giving all women the right to vote in the U.S.

These efforts in Kansas did not end when women achieved the right to vote. In 1923 the first equal rights amendment to the U.S. Constitution was introduced by Alice Paul. She recognized that women’s fight for equality was not over, and demanded that men and women receive equal rights under the law. The 1972 amendment read,

Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by 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.

Senator Charles Curtis and Representative Daniel R. Anthony, Jr., both of whom were from Kansas, first introduced the amendment. At first the amendment did not pass the U.S. Congress. While parties such as the National Women's party supported the bill, many other suffrage groups greatly despised it, because it would set back many labor reforms that had only recently been accomplished. In the 1950s the bill succeeded in making it through the U.S. Senate, with the support of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, but was withdrawn due to the addition of the Hayden Rider, which stated, “The provisions of this article shall not be construed to impair any rights, benefits, or exemptions now or hereafter conferred by law upon persons of the female sex.” The bill continued to be introduced into Congress each year until it finally passed in 1972.

The 1972 bill was brought to national attention due to a nationwide strike by women, demanding Congress consider the bill. A congressional committee examined the bill, and finally it passed both the house and senate. With the support of President Richard Nixon the bill was given a seven-year deadline to be ratified by 38 states. Kansas was one of 22 states to do so in the first year. Eventually, 12 more states ratified the amendment. To the disappointment of the many supporters of the Equal Rights Amendment, it was never ratified by the required 38 states.

Time ran out on the 1972 bill, and women across the country were greatly disappointed. Many attempts have been made since then to continue the ratification process, and the bill has been reintroduced in Congress every year since 1982. The ERA has yet to be added as a constitutional amendment, however, many states have some form of it within their own constitution.


Portions from The Kansas Journey.

Entry: Equal Rights Amendment

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: February 2011

Date Modified: July 2012

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.