Did you know the US Constitution uses the words he/him almost exclusively? As a society we recognized long ago that when documents are written with gender-bias they create a biased atmosphere. Yet our Constitution
which governs our every day in the United States contains highly gender-biased language. Indeed, our Constitution also includes language that is biased by race, however, the 14th Amendment was added to address this bias. While the 14th Amendment states that all males (excluding American Indians) shall be considered equally in the running of this country, it was written during a time when women did not have the right to vote and were not considered citizens. Which is why the 14th Amendment also specifies males in its language.
Many people dismiss the idea that biased language within the Constitution creates an unequitable treatment of citizens. They cite Legislation that has been passed that asserts the equality of women and men. They suggest that women have gained an equal playing field with men and should be satisfied with their gains. Yet, in 2017 we saw a vast movement of women who came forward to say they were not treated equally in the workplace. The #MeToo movement showed that sexual harassment was still rampant in all institutions, including our Legislature.
Even more importantly Court cases brought forward by women to companies, including Goodyear and Walmart, expose that inequitable pay is also still a problem. The case brought forward by Lilly Ledbetter is an excellent example of why Legislation designed to address inequality is not enough. When Lilly Ledbetter sued Goodyear for paying her less than male coworkers at the same level, the Supreme Court dismissed the case because Lilly had not filled her complaint soon enough. As long as bias exists within our highest offices, laws can be gutted and circumvented.
Further, a Constitutional Amendment would ensure that the burden of proving discrimination would be taken off from individual woman, many of whom simply do not pursue discrimination cases because of the personal and financial costs. Instead the burden would be placed on the companies to prove that they are equitable in their hiring, promotion and wage practices. This is the true key to why a Constitutional Amendment is so important.
The ERA was passed by the Federal Government and ratified by 37 of the 38 states needed to make it law. Minnesota was one of the states that ratified the ERA, but it has still not added the ERA to the Minnesota Constitution. Because state and federal governments have specific, separate duties, it is very important for us to add the Equal Rights Amendment to the Minnesota Constitution. This is something I will support and work towards.
“Equality under the law shall not be abridged or denied on account of gender.”