A proposal to add an amendment to the Minnesota constitution guaranteeing equal rights regardless of gender has cleared the state House and now moves on to the Senate for consideration.
House File 13, sponsored by New Brighton Democrat Mary Kunesh-Podein, states, "Equality under the law shall not be abridged or denied on account of gender."
Ann Hill, chair of the government relations committee for the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees, says the time to codify equal rights has arrived. MAPE supports the amendment.
"When women do better, the whole community does better," Hill states. "Everyone does better. And when women have opportunities, everybody gets more opportunities."
Similar proposals have died in previous sessions, but HF 13 has gained momentum under the new Democratic House majority.
Supporters are planning a rally at the State Capitol on Friday, International Women's Rights Day.
Opponents of the ERA say an amendment is not necessary to guarantee equal rights, and some conservative groups maintain it could create a right to abortion on demand and infringe on states' rights.
Hill points out that without amending the state's constitution, legal protections already on the books for women, including the Minnesota Human Rights Act and Title IX, could be reversed by the state Legislature.
"We'll continue to talk about women being equal 200 more years from now if this is not made a part of our constitution, that women are explicitly identified in our constitution as equal," she states.
Twenty-four state constitutions currently include ERA amendments or language.
HF 13 is expected to move to the Senate on Friday.
If the measure makes it onto the 2020 ballot and a majority vote "Yes," it would become an amendment to the state constitution.
Voters who skip over the question would be considered a "No" vote.