THREE YEARS AGO, I joined a struggle for what I view as the most transformational justice reform today: change to the U.S. Constitution. The change I advocate is at once unbelievably simple and profoundly radical: for Americans to agree that all citizens enjoy equal rights under law, whatever their gender or sexual orientation. It’s time to recognize the Equal Rights Amendment. Equality is central to most contemporary theories of justice. A majority of Americans puzzle why our nation has failed to live up to the promise of equality in our democracy. So why aren’t women protected equally?
“The ERA is dead,” opponents argue, laid to rest by an arbitrary time limit that was negotiated into the prelude of the bill Congress passed in 1972. A procedural objection seems a weak theory to lead with, in response to the unrequited aspirations of half the citizenry for basic human rights. Whatever the amendment’s merits, many claim, it cannot be revived. And yet miraculously, it has been. And women everywhere are testifying to this resurrection.
This is fitting, isn’t it? It was women, after all, who first testified to the resurrection. This Easter, we read how Mary Magdalene and the other Mary meet an angel at Jesus’ tomb, who commissions them to tell the disciples he is risen. The guards are too terrified to move, but the women rush to fulfill their divine calling (see Matthew 28).