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State-Level Equal Rights Amendments

A majority of state constitutions have gender equality provisions.

Last Updated: August 29, 2022
Published: August 26, 2022

In the United States, the fight for a federal Equal Rights Amendment has been a century in the making.

Meanwhile, state-level equivalents abound. Some are comprehensive provisions of state constitutions that guarantee equal rights regardless of an individual’s gender, and others are provisions that prohibit gender-based discrimination in specific circumstances.

State courts and constitutions are becoming increasingly important in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization as well as federal courts’ growing hostility to many forms of civil rights protection. In the coming months and years, litigants may increasingly turn to state-level Equal Rights Amendments. 

What follows is a summary of the protections afforded in the 50 states. It is not intended to be exhaustive and may change and evolve in real time.

Summary of State-Level ERA Provisions

Key:

States with ERAs

States with limited gender equality provisions

States with active state ERA ratification efforts

States with no ERA

States:

  • Alabama

    Alabama

  • Alaska

    Key:

    States with ERAs

    Alaska

    “No person is to be denied the enjoyment of any civil or political right because of race, color, creed, sex, or national origin. The legislature shall implement this section.” Alaska Const. art. I, § 3 (1972).

    Background

    The Alaska ERA passed on August 22, 1972, with 43,281 votes in favor, 10,278 votes against.

    Jurisprudence

    In 1974, in Schreiner v. Fruit, the Alaska Supreme Court held that a married woman has a right to sue for loss of consortium due to a negligently inflicted injury to her husband. The court remarked, “Discrimination on basis of sex in granting only the husband the right to sue for lost consortium would also violate the Alaska Constitution.” 519 P.2d 462, 465 n.16 (Alaska 1974).

    Alaska ratified the federal ERA on April 5, 1972.

    Sources

  • Arizona

    Key:

    States with limited gender equality provisions

    Arizona

    “This state shall not grant preferential treatment to or discriminate against any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education or public contracting.” Ariz. Const. art. II, § 36(A).

    Background

    The Arizona provision passed on November 2, 2010, with 952,086 votes in favor, 647,713 against. Arizona is one of several states (including Michigan and Nebraska) that proposed its provision as a means to curb affirmative action.

    Jurisprudence

    There has been no litigation under this provision thus far.

    Arizona has not ratified the federal ERA.

    Sources

  • Arkansas

    Arkansas

  • California

    Key:

    States with ERAs

    California

    “A person may not be disqualified from entering or pursuing a business, profession, vocation, or employment because of sex, race, creed, color, or national or ethnic origin.” Cal. Const. art. I, § 8 (1974).

    Background

    The California provision passed on November 5, 1974, with 3,567,443 votes in favor, 1,495,929 against. Members of the Constitutional Revision Commission originally proposed the amendment as part of a multiyear overhaul of the state constitution. Popular arguments in favor of the provision included strengthening individual rights and modernizing the constitution. Statewide papers covering this election highlighted low voter turnout and elections for public office; mentions of propositions are brief, and the provision was not often discussed specifically. A 1996 proposition, also known as the California Civil Rights Initiative, was introduced with the intent to dismantle state affirmative action programs. It was approved by a vote of 54 percent to 46 percent.

    Jurisprudence

    In Rojo v. Kliger, the California Supreme Court found that sex discrimination in employment may support a claim of “tortious discharge” and violates public policy. Referring to California’s constitution in reaching its decision, the court stated, “the provision unquestionably reflects a fundamental public policy against discrimination in employment — public or private — on account of sex.” 801 P.2d 373, 389 (Cal. 1990). This case has now been superseded by statute.

    California ratified the federal ERA on November 13, 1972.

    Sources

  • Colorado

    Key:

    States with ERAs

    Colorado

    “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the state of Colorado or any of its political subdivisions on account of sex.” Colo. Const. art. II, § 29 (1972).

    Background

    The Colorado ERA passed on November 7, 1972, with 531,415 votes in favor, 295,254 against. At the time, the general assembly released three “popular arguments for” and three “popular arguments against” the proposed amendment. Arguments in favor included the importance of promoting equality and showing support for the national ERA. Arguments against included the statement that women’s rights were “already protected by the Fourteenth Amendment” and that a state-level ERA would exclude women from protective labor laws.

    Jurisprudence

    In In re Est. of Musso, the Colorado Court of Appeals held that the state’s ERA prohibited the continuation and application of the presumption that the husband owned all household goods and property in a marriage. The court observed changing cultural attitudes toward gender:

    “The presumption that husbands solely own all household goods is a creature of a different ’era’ in our society. It reflects an attitude that the law, as a mirror of the mores of society, should appropriately, expressly differentiate between married men and married women based entirely upon the issue of gender. . . . Thus, the presumption gives to married men the advantage in determination of ownership of household goods in relation to estate proceedings . . . To the extent that the presumption differentiates between men and women exclusively on the basis of gender, it is impermissible.” 932 P.2d 853, 855-56 (Colo. App. 1997).

    In R. McG. v. J.W., the Supreme Court of Colorado held that a statute granting mothers the right to bring a paternity suit, but denying fathers the same right, violated the ERA. 615 P.2d 666 (Colo. 1980). The same court also found that its statutory rape statute did not violate the ERA even though it only applied to male offenders because it found that the ERA “does not prohibit differential treatment among the sexes when, as here, that treatment is reasonably and genuinely based on physical characteristics unique to just one sex.” People v. Salinas, 551 P.2d 703, 705 (Colo. 1976).

    Colorado ratified the federal ERA on April 21, 1972.

    Sources

    • Colorado Legislative Council, An Analysis of 1972 Ballot Proposals, Research Publication 185 (1972).
  • Connecticut

    Key:

    States with ERAs

    Connecticut

    “No person shall be denied the equal protection of the law nor be subjected to segregation or discrimination in the exercise or enjoyment of his or her civil or political rights because of religion, race, color, ancestry, national origin, sex or physical or mental disability.” Conn. Const. art. I, § 20 (1974).

    Background

    The Connecticut ERA passed on November 5, 1974, with 460,711 votes in favor, 135,427 against.

    Jurisprudence

    In Doe v. Maher, the Superior Court of Connecticut, Judicial District of New Haven found that the regulation that restricts funding for medically necessary abortions except when the woman's life is endangered violates Connecticut's Equal Rights Amendment because it discriminates on the basis of sex. 515 A.2d 134 (Conn. Super. Ct. 1986). The court reasoned that since pregnancy is unique to those with uteruses, a funding classification based on pregnancy was inherently discriminatory.

    “By adopting the ERA, Connecticut determined that the state should no longer be permitted to disadvantage women because of their sex including their reproductive capabilities. It is therefore clear, under the Connecticut ERA, that the regulation excepting medically necessary abortions from the Medicaid program discriminates against women, and, indeed, poor women.” 515 A.2d at 159.

    The state’s highest court also held that a regulation that allowed a husband, but not a wife, deductions for dependent children was unconstitutional under the state ERA. Page v. Welfare Commissioner, 365 A.2d 1118, 1124 (Conn. 1976). And in Kerrigan v. Commissioner of Public Health, 289 Conn. 135 (Conn. 2008), the Connecticut Supreme Court held that the state’s ERA protected marriage equality.

    Connecticut ratified the federal ERA on March 15, 1973.

    Sources

  • Delaware

    Key:

    States with ERAs

    Delaware

    “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged on account of race, color, national origin, or sex.” Del.Const. art. I, § 21 (2019).

    Background

    The Delaware ERA is the most recent to be added to a state constitution as of August 2022. It passed the Delaware House with 35 votes in favor, 6 against, then passed the state senate with 16 votes in favor, 5 against.

    Jurisprudence

    There has been no litigation under this provision thus far.

    Delaware ratified the federal ERA on March 23, 1972.

    Sources

  • District of Columbia

    District of Columbia

  • Florida

    Key:

    States with ERAs

    Florida

    “All natural persons, female and male alike, are equal before the law and have inalienable rights, among which are the right to enjoy and defend life and liberty, to pursue happiness, to be rewarded for industry, and to acquire, possess and protect property. No person shall be deprived of any right because of race, religion, national origin, or physical disability.” Fla. Const. art. I, § 2 (1998).

    Background

    The Florida ERA passed on November 3, 1998, with 2,416,324 votes in favor, 1,230,683 against.

    Jurisprudence

    There has been no litigation under this provision thus far.

    Florida has not ratified the federal ERA.

    Sources

  • Georgia

    Georgia

  • Hawaii

    Key:

    States with ERAs

    Hawaii

    “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the State on account of sex. The legislature shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this section.” Haw. Const. art. I, § 3 (1972).

    Background

    The Hawaii ERA passed on November 7, 1972, with 251,822 votes in favor, 55,689 against.

    Jurisprudence

    Hawaii’s landmark marriage equality case, Baehr v. Lewin, relied on the state’s ERA. The Supreme Court of Hawaii held that because sex was a suspect classification under the ERA, the statute prohibiting same-sex marriage was subject to strict scrutiny that required a showing of compelling state interests, adding that the statute was “narrowly drawn to avoid unnecessary abridgements of applicant couples’ constitutional rights.” 852 P.2d 44, 82 (Haw. 1993). The case was preempted by a constitutional amendment that reinforced the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

    In Holdman v. Olim, the Supreme Court of Hawaii found that a requirement that women wear a bra when visiting an all-male prison was constitutional under the state’s Equal Rights Amendment. The court concluded that the state had a compelling interest in this requirement, and the ERA is not so absolute as to not be subject to exceptions for physical characteristics that are unique only to one sex. 581 P.2d 1164, 1169 (Haw. 1978).

    Similarly, in State v. Rivera, the Supreme Court of Hawaii also noted that a statutory classification, in this instance for rape, based on unique physical characteristics of men or women does not violate the ERA. The court reasoned, “A classification based on a physical characteristic unique to one sex is not an impermissive under- or over-inclusive classification because the differentiation is based on the unique presence of a physical characteristic in one sex and not based on an averaging of a trait or characteristic which exists in both sexes.” 612 P.2d 526, 530 (Haw. 1980).

    Hawaii ratified the federal ERA on March 22, 1972.

    Sources

  • Idaho

    Idaho

  • Illinois

    Key:

    States with ERAs

    Illinois

    “The equal protection of the laws shall not be denied or abridged on account of sex by the State or its units of local government and school districts.” Ill. Const. art. I, § 18 (1970).

    Background

    The Illinois ERA passed on December 15, 1970, with 1,122,425 in favor, 838,168 against. Lawmakers proposed the Illinois ERA as part of a constitutional overhaul in the late 1960s. Residents voted on the new constitution as a whole in the December 1970 special election.

    Jurisprudence

    In 1994, the Appellate Court of Illinois held in People v. Lann that litigants are prohibited from excluding jurors based on gender. The court remarked that permitting gender discrimination would not only undermine the integrity of the judicial process and criminal justice system but also harm both the defendant and the excluded jurors. 633 N.E.2d 938, 952 (Ill. 1994).

    In Phelps v. Bing, the Supreme Court of Illinois held that a state marriage law that treated males and females differently regarding their age and right to obtain a marriage license was unconstitutional under the ERA. 316 N.E.2d 775 (Ill. 1974). Similarly, in People v. Ellis, the Supreme Court of Illinois found that differing ages between males and females for classifying defendants as juveniles was invalid under the ERA. 311 N.E.2d. 98 (Ill. 1974).

    Illinois ratified the federal ERA on May 30, 2018.

    Sources

    • Frank Kopecky and Mary Sherman Harris, Understanding the Illinois Constitution, Illinois Bar Foundation, 2001.
  • Indiana

    Indiana

  • Iowa

    Key:

    States with ERAs

    Iowa

    “All men and women are, by nature, free and equal, and have certain inalienable rights — among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining safety and happiness.” Iowa Const. art. I, § 1 (1998).

    Background

    The Iowa ERA passed on November 3, 1998, with 654,419 votes in favor, 128,589 against. The ERA originally appeared on the state ballot in 1992. The bill failed with 557,918 votes in favor and 604,839 against.

    Jurisprudence

    On June 17, 2022, in Planned Parenthood of the Heartland v. Kim Reynolds (No. 21–0856), the Iowa Supreme Court overruled earlier precedent finding that denying abortion rights amounts to sex discrimination under the state’s ERA. The court also rejected other state constitutional grounds previously recognized as protecting abortion rights.

    Iowa ratified the federal ERA on March 24, 1972.

    Sources

  • Kansas

    Kansas

  • Kentucky

    Kentucky

  • Louisiana

    Key:

    States with limited gender equality provisions

    Louisiana

    “No person shall be denied the equal protection of the laws. No law shall discriminate against a person because of race or religious ideas, beliefs, or affiliations. No law shall arbitrarily, capriciously, or unreasonably discriminate against a person because of birth, age, sex, culture, physical condition, or political ideas or affiliations. Slavery and involuntary servitude are prohibited, except in the latter case as punishment for crime.” La. Const. art. I, § 3 (1974).

    Background

    The Louisiana provision was adopted and added to the Louisiana Constitution at the Louisiana Constitutional Convention on January 19, 1973. The provision was never presented to voters.

    Jurisprudence

    In 2004, the Louisiana Supreme Court in Albright v. S. Trace Country Club Of Shreveport, Inc., 2003-3413 (La. 7/6/04) held that a country club’s men-only dining policy excluding female club members violated the state constitution.

    Louisiana has not ratified the federal ERA.

    Sources

  • Maine

    Key:

    States with active state ERA ratification efforts

    Maine

    In 2019, Resolution LD 433 was introduced in the state senate: “Proposing an Amendment to the Constitution of Maine to Explicitly Prohibit Discrimination Based on the Sex of an Individual.”

    Background

    The resolution was passed in the state senate by two-thirds majority with bipartisan support. On February 16, 2022, Maine’s House of Representatives voted on a resolution to amend the Maine Constitution to include a sex equality guarantee. The vote, 80–57 along party lines, fell short of the necessary two-thirds majority.

    Jurisprudence

    There has been no litigation under this provision thus far.

    Maine ratified the federal ERA on January 18, 1974.

    Sources

  • Maryland

    Key:

    States with ERAs

    Maryland

    “Equality of rights under the law shall not be abridged or denied because of sex.” Md. Dec. of R. art. 46 (1972).

    Background

    The Maryland ERA passed on November 7, 1972. Digitized election result records are not presently available.

    Jurisprudence

    In Maryland, the state’s ERA has been used by the courts in a variety of areas. Several cases have established that men and women must be treated equally under the state’s ERA, particularly in domestic circumstances.

    In Coleman v. State, Maryland’s high court held that liability for nonsupport must be imposed on both wives and husbands. 377 A.2d 553 (Md. 1977). Similarly, in Tidler v. Tidler, the Court of Special Appeals held that women were equally responsible for counsel fees in divorce actions. 435 A.2d 489 (Md. 1981). In Bell v. Bell, the same court held that the view of the husband as the dominant person in a marriage was invalid under the state ERA. 379 A.2d 419 (Md. 1977). In both Stern v. Stern and Rand v. Rand, the Court of Special Appeals and the Court of Appeals, respectively, found that both parents were equally responsible for child support regardless of gender. 473 A.2d 56 (Md. 1984); 374 A.2d 900 (Md. 1977). In 1980, in Kline v. Ansell, the Court of Appeals recognized that limiting the common-law right to sue or be sued only to men was in violation of the state’s ERA. Since the law provided different benefits and burdens based solely on sex, the court abolished the law as unconstitutional. 414 A.2d 929, 933 (Md. 1980).

    Moreover, the Maryland Court of Appeals held that a private men-only country club could not receive preferential tax benefits as long as the club discriminated on the basis of sex. Burning Tree Club, Inc. v. Bainum, 501 A.2d 817 (Md. 1985).

    Maryland ratified the federal ERA on May 26, 1972.

    Sources

  • Massachusetts

    Key:

    States with ERAs

    Massachusetts

    “All people are born free and equal and have certain natural, essential and unalienable rights; among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties; that of acquiring, possessing and protecting property; in fine, that of seeking and obtaining their safety and happiness. Equality under the law shall not be denied or abridged because of sex, race, color, creed or national origin.” Mass. Const. pt. 1, art. I (1976).

    Background

    The Massachusetts ERA passed on November 2, 1976, with 1,445,066 votes in favor, 945,789 votes against.

    Jurisprudence

    In Massachusetts, the ERA has been used in myriad ways. In 1977, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, Suffolk held that punishing female prostitutes, but not male prostitutes, violated the ERA. Com. v. King, 372 N.E.2d 196 (Mass. 1977). In reaching this decision, the court observed that “the people of Massachusetts view sex discrimination with the same vigorous disapproval as they view racial, ethnic, and religious discrimination.” 372 N.E.2d 196, 206. This case was superseded by statute §53A in 1983.

    Also in 1977, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts warned that a proposed bill that would prohibit women from participating in contact sports with men would be discriminatory and thus invalid under the ERA. Opinion of the Justices to the House of Rep. 371 N.E.2d 426 (Mass. 1977).

    The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, Worcester extended inheritance rights to a plaintiff in Lowell v. Kowalski, finding that the discriminatory impact of a sex-based classification that results in children receiving different inheritances was unconstitutional. Furthermore, the court acknowledged the broader ramifications of such a decision: “The plaintiff in this case is asserting more than an adverse financial impact; she is litigating the issue of her status in the community . . . Such a plaintiff's interest is not simply economic. The plaintiff has a separate, identifiable interest in not being treated by her government as a second-class person.’” 405 N.E.2d 135, 139 (Mass. 1980) (citing Eskra v. Morton, 524 F.2d 9, 12-13 (7th Cir. 1975) (Stevens, J.)).

    Massachusetts ratified the federal ERA on June 21, 1972.

    Sources

  • Michigan

    Key:

    States with limited gender equality provisions

    Michigan

    “The state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.” Mich. Const. art. I, § 26(2) (2006).

    Background

    The Michigan provision passed on November 7, 2006, with 2,141,010 votes in favor, 1,555,691 against. Michigan is one of several states (including Arizona and Nebraska) that proposed its provision as a means to curb affirmative action.

    Jurisprudence

    There has been no litigation under this provision thus far.

    Michigan ratified the federal ERA on May 22, 1972.

    Sources

  • Minnesota

    Key:

    States with active state ERA ratification efforts

    Minnesota

    The proposed amendment reads: “Equality under the law shall not be abridged or denied on account of gender.”

    Background

    In 2019, the proposed amendment passed in the Minnesota House of Representatives but did not advance through the state senate. The house reintroduced the ERA in 2022.

    Jurisprudence

    Under the Minnesota Constitution, intermediate scrutiny applies to gender-based classifications. State on Behalf of Forslund v. Bronson, 305 N.W.2d 748 (1981).

    Even without an explicit ERA, in Doe v. Minnesota (Minn. 2d Jud. Dist. No. 62-cv-19-3868), a district court on July 11, 2022, blocked abortion restrictions based on the state constitution’s liberty and equal protection provisions, holding that abortion is a fundamental right that gets the highest scrutiny.

    Minnesota ratified the federal ERA on February 8, 1973.

    Sources

    ERA Minnesota, https://www.eramn.org/.

  • Mississippi

    Mississippi

  • Missouri

    Missouri

  • Montana

    Key:

    States with ERAs

    Montana

    “Individual dignity. The dignity of the human being is inviolable. No person shall be denied the equal protection of the laws. Neither the state nor any person, firm, corporation, or institution shall discriminate against any person in the exercise of his civil or political rights on account of race, color, sex, culture, social origin or condition, or political or religious ideas.” Mont. Const. art. II, § 4 (1973).

    Background

    The Montana ERA passed on June 6, 1972, with 116,415 votes in favor, 113,883 against. The ERA was passed as part of a constitutional overhaul in 1971–1972. The Montana Legislature adopted a new proposed constitution on March 22, 1972, before passing it along to voters in a special election. A sample ballot featured the full text of the proposed constitution, in which the proposed ERA was highlighted as a key change.

    Jurisprudence

    There has been no litigation under this provision thus far.

    Montana ratified the federal ERA on January 25, 1974.

    Sources

  • Nebraska

    Key:

    States with limited gender equality provisions

    Nebraska

    “The state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting . . . Nothing in this section prohibits bona fide qualifications based on sex that are reasonably necessary to the normal operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.” Neb. Const. art. I, § 30 (2008).

    Background

    The Nebraska provision passed on November 4, 2008, with 404,766 votes in favor, 298,401 against. Nebraska is one of several states (including Arizona and Michigan) that proposed its provision as a means to curb affirmative action. As a result, many organizations in Nebraska (particularly educational institutions) publicly voiced their concerns about the amendment. Between 2020 and 2022, there have been several statewide campaigns to repeal it.

    Jurisprudence

    There has been no litigation under this provision thus far.

    Nebraska ratified the federal ERA on March 29, 1972.

    Sources

  • Nevada

    Key:

    States with active state ERA ratification efforts

    Nevada

    The proposed amendment reads: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by this State or any of its political subdivisions on account of race, color, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, disability, ancestry or national origin.”

    Background

    The proposed amendment will appear on the 2022 ballot.

    Jurisprudence

    There has been no litigation under this provision thus far.

    Nevada ratified the federal ERA on March 22, 2017.

    Sources

  • New Hampshire

    Key:

    States with ERAs

    New Hampshire

    “All men have certain natural, essential, and inherent rights — among which are, the enjoying and defending life and liberty; acquiring, possessing, and protecting, property; and, in a word, of seeking and obtaining happiness. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by this state on account of race, creed, color, sex or national origin.” N.H. Const. pt. I, art. 2 (1974).

    Background

    The New Hampshire ERA passed on November 5, 1974, with 135,989 votes in favor, 65,421 votes against.

    Jurisprudence

    In State v. Lilley, the Supreme Court of New Hampshire held that a statute banning public nudity did not violate the ERA because it was rationally related to the purpose of upholding public interests and did not amount to discrimination by prohibiting female, but not male, breast exposure. 204 A.3d 198 (N.H. 2019).

    New Hampshire ratified the federal ERA on March 23, 1972.

    Sources

  • New Jersey

    Key:

    States with limited gender equality provisions

    New Jersey

    “Wherever in this Constitution the term ‘person,’ ‘persons,’ ‘people’ or any personal pronoun is used, the same shall be taken to include both sexes.” N.J. Const. art. X, § 4 (1947).

    Background

    The New Jersey provision passed on November 4, 1947, with 653,096 votes in favor, 184,632 against. Voters did not vote for the provision on its own, but rather for a new state constitution proposed by the New Jersey Constitutional Convention.

    Jurisprudence

    There has been no litigation under this provision thus far.

    New Jersey ratified the federal ERA on April 17, 1972.

    Sources

  • New Mexico

    Key:

    States with ERAs

    New Mexico

    “No person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law; nor shall any person be denied equal protection of the laws. Equality of rights under law shall not be denied on account of the sex of any person.” N.M. Const. art. II, § 18 (1973).

    Background

    The New Mexico ERA passed on November 7, 1972, with 155,633 votes in favor, 64,823 votes against. Afterward, lawmakers realized multiple state laws would have to be changed to comply with the new amendment. Laws that required adjustment included those related to "labor, rape, support, gambling, mining, and the National Guard."

    Jurisprudence

    In New Mexico Right to Choose/NARAL v. Johnson, the Supreme Court of New Mexico held that the state's Medicaid program discriminated against women by restricting abortion funding. In doing so, the court interpreted the state’s ERA to find that the state’s Medicaid program must fund medically necessary abortion because otherwise, it applied a different standard of medical necessity to men and women with no compelling justification. In its opinion, the court remarked, “‘since time immemorial, women's biology and ability to bear children have been used as a basis for discrimination against them.’" 975 P.2d 841, 854 (N.M. 1998) (citing Doe v. Maher, 515 A.2d 134, 159 (Conn. 1986)).

    New Mexico ratified the federal ERA on February 28, 1973.

    Sources

  • New York

    Key:

    States with active state ERA ratification efforts

    New York

    The proposed amendment reads: “No person shall be denied the equal protection of the laws of this state or any subdivision thereof. No person shall, because of race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, disability, creed (or), religion, or sex, including sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, pregnancy, pregnancy outcomes, and reproductive healthcare and autonomy, be subjected to any discrimination in [his or her] civil rights by any other person or by any firm, corporation, or institution, or by the state or any agency or subdivision of the state, pursuant to law.” (S.8797B/A.10468A)

    Background

    On July 1, 2022, the New York State Legislature passed an inclusive ERA that guarantees, among other things, reproductive rights, including pregnancy outcomes and reproductive health care and autonomy. In order to appear on the New York ballot in 2024, the ERA must pass a second time in the next legislative session in 2023.

    Jurisprudence

    There has been no litigation under this provision thus far.

    New York ratified the federal ERA on May 18, 1972.

    Sources

  • North Carolina

    North Carolina

  • North Dakota

    North Dakota

  • Ohio

    Ohio

  • Oklahoma

    Oklahoma

  • Oregon

    Key:

    States with ERAs

    Oregon

    “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the state of Oregon or by any political subdivision in this state on account of sex.” Or. Const. art. I, § 46(1) (2014).

    Background

    The Oregon ERA passed on November 4, 2014, with 925,892 votes in favor, 514,907 votes against.

    Jurisprudence

    There has been no litigation under this provision thus far.

    Oregon ratified the federal ERA on February 8, 1973.

    Sources

  • Pennsylvania

    Key:

    States with ERAs

    Pennsylvania

    “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania because of the sex of the individual.” Pa. Const. art. I, § 28 (1971).

    Background

    The Pennsylvania ERA passed on May 18, 1971, with 783,441 votes in favor, 464,882 against. Prior to that election, Pennsylvania had just elected Milton Shapp, one of Pennsylvania’s most progressive governors at the time, who strongly urged voters to approve the amendment.

    Jurisprudence

    Pennsylvania has been a leader in using its ERA to strike down laws that perpetuate unequal treatment: “The sex of citizens of this Commonwealth is no longer a permissible factor in the determination of their legal rights and legal responsibilities. The law will not impose different benefits or different burdens upon the members of a society based on the fact that they may be man or woman.” Henderson v. Henderson, 327 A.2d 60, 62 (1974).

    Pennsylvania state courts have leveraged the state's ERA in domestic circumstances in particular. See Di Florido v. Di Florido, 331 A.2d 174 (Pa. 1975) (abolishing the presumption that husband is owner of household goods that are used and possessed by wife); Adoption of Walker, 360 A.2d 603 (Pa. 1976) (holding that the Adoption Act’s failure to require parental consent of both parents, even if unwed, violates the ERA); Henderson v. Henderson, 327 A.2d 60 (Pa. 1974) (decided under previous divorce code, striking down statute providing for counsel fees and expenses in a divorce action for wife but not husband, which has now been superseded); Conway v. Dana, 318 A.2d 324 (Pa. 1974) (abolishing assumption that father must bear the principal burden of child support); Hopkins v. Blanco, 320 A.2d 139 (Pa. 1974) (holding that the ERA requires that both wife and husband should be permitted to recover for loss of consortium).

    In Com v. Butler, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania struck down the Muncy Act mandating that no woman receive a minimum sentence as it treats men and women offenders differently despite the commission of the same crime. 328 A.2d 851, 859 (Pa. 1974).

    The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania has also used the state ERA to find that the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association must allow girls to compete in sports with boys. Commonwealth v. Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic ’Ass’n., 334 A.2d 839 (Pa. 1975):

    “The notion that girls as a whole are weaker and thus more injury-prone, if they compete with boys, especially in contact sports, cannot justify the By-Law in light of the ERA. Nor can we consider the argument that boys are generally more skilled. The existence of certain characteristics to a greater degree in one sex does not justify classification by sex rather than by the particular characteristic. If any individual girl is too weak, injury-prone, or unskilled, she may, of course, be excluded from competition on that basis but she cannot be excluded solely because of her sex without regard to her relevant qualifications.” Id. at 873-74 (citations omitted).

    The ERA has also been used less progressively. In Fischer v. Dep’t of Pub. Welfare, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that indigent women were not entitled to a publicly funded abortion, rejecting, among other things, a claim under the state ERA. 502 A.2d 114, 124 (Pa. 1985). In 2008, in Dillon v. Homeowner’s Select, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania ruled that the ERA did not create a private right of action against an employer for gender-based discrimination. 957 A.2d 772 (Pa. 2008).

    Pennsylvania ratified the federal ERA on September 26, 1972.

    Sources

  • Rhode Island

    Key:

    States with limited gender equality provisions

    Rhode Island

    “No person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied equal protection of the laws. No otherwise qualified person shall, solely by reason of race, gender or handicap be subject to discrimination by the state, its agents or any person or entity doing business with the state. Nothing in this section shall be construed to grant or secure any right relating to abortion or the funding thereof.” R.I. Const. art. I, § 2 (1986).

    Background

    The Rhode Island provision passed on November 4, 1986, with 163,862 votes in favor, 76,238 votes against. The original text specified the amendment “should not be construed ‘to prohibit or authorize abortion.’” After weeks of debate and testimony submitted by anti-abortion activists, the convention struck down the original provision in October 1986. Instead, members of the convention rewrote the amendment to specify “that no approval of state-sanctioned abortions was implied,” giving way to the language that currently exists in the Rhode Island Constitution.

    Jurisprudence

    In 1992, in Kleczek v. Rhode Island Interscholastic League, Inc., the Supreme Court of Rhode Island made it clear in deciding that a male student could not participate on the girl’s field hockey team that Rhode Island had not adopted an ERA:

    "It is clear to us that the delegates to our Constitutional Convention did not vote on an ERA and did not propose one to the people for ratification. Such a resolution was never reported out of committee. To argue that we have adopted what is in effect an ERA in article 1, section 2, is to argue a proposition that has no foundation in fact. We are of the opinion that the convention proposed, and the people ratified, an equal-protection clause and an antidiscrimination clause, that were intended to fill a void that had existed in our constitution up until that time.” 612 A.2d 734, 740 (R.I. 1992).

    Rhode Island ratified the national ERA on April 14, 1972.

    Sources

  • South Carolina

    South Carolina

  • South Dakota

    South Dakota

  • Tennessee

    Tennessee

  • Texas

    Key:

    States with ERAs

    Texas

    “Equality under the law shall not be denied or abridged because of sex, race, color, creed, or national origin. This amendment is self-operative.” Tex. Const. art. I, § 3(a) (1972).

    Background

    The Texas ERA passed on November 7, 1972, with 2,156,536 votes in favor, 548,422 votes against.

    Jurisprudence

    In 1987, the Supreme Court of Texas held that the gender-based distinction in the state’s family code regarding parental rights of children born out of wedlock violated the state Equal Rights Amendment because the state’s interest in children’s welfare can be executed without discriminating based on sex. In Int. of McLean, 725 S.W.2d 696 (Tex. 1987). The court underscored the ERA’s power in making its decision: “Even the loftiest goal does not justify sex-based discrimination in light of the clear constitutional prohibition.” Id. at 698.

    In 2002, in Bell v. Low Income Women of Texas, the Supreme Court of Texas also held that restrictions on federal funding for abortion services did not violate the state ERA because the restrictions did not discriminate on the basis of sex and were rationally related to a legitimate government purpose. 95 S.W.3d 253, 255 (Tex. 2002).

    Texas ratified the federal ERA on March 30, 1972.

    Sources

  • Utah

    Key:

    States with ERAs

    Utah

    “The rights of citizens of the State of Utah to vote and hold office shall not be denied or abridged on account of sex. Both male and female citizens of this State shall enjoy all civil, political and religious rights and privileges.” Utah Constitution, Article IV, §1 (1896).

    Background

    The original Utah Constitution of 1896 contained an equality provision.

    Jurisprudence

    In July 2022, the provision undergirded the preliminary injunction issued in Planned Parenthood v. State of Utah, blocking the state’s trigger law from taking effect during the course of the litigation.

    Utah has not ratified the national ERA.

    Sources

  • Vermont

    Key:

    States with active state ERA ratification efforts

    Vermont

    The proposed amendment reads: “Article 22. [Equality of rights] That the people are guaranteed equal protection under the law. The State shall not deny equal treatment and respect under the law on account of a person’s race, ethnicity, sex, religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or national origin. Nothing in this Article shall be interpreted or applied to prevent the adoption or implementation of measures intended to provide equality of treatment and opportunity for members of groups that have historically been subject to discrimination.”

    Background

    In 2019, an inclusive ERA was introduced by the state senate. The proposed resolution did not advance past the Judiciary Committee.

    Jurisprudence

    There has been no litigation under this provision thus far.

    Vermont ratified the federal ERA on March 1, 1973.

    Sources

  • Virginia

    Key:

    States with ERAs

    Virginia

    “That no person shall be deprived of his life, liberty, or property without due process of law; that the General Assembly shall not pass any law impairing the obligation of contracts; and that the right to be free from any governmental discrimination upon the basis of religious conviction, race, color, sex, or national origin shall not be abridged, except that the mere separation of the sexes shall not be considered discrimination.” Va. Const. art. I, § 11 (1971).

    Background

    The Virginia ERA passed on November 3, 1970, with 576,776 votes in favor, 226,219 against. ERA verbiage was not explicitly mentioned on the 1970 ballot. Instead, the ballot asked voters, “shall the Constitution be generally amended and revised, as agreed to by the General Assembly at its 1969 and 1970 sessions. . .?”

    Jurisprudence

    The Supreme Court of Virginia held that doctrine obligating only a husband to pay for a wife’s necessaries without obligating the wife as well violated the state’s ERA. Schilling v. Bedford Cty. Memorial Hosp. 303 S.E.2d 905 (Va. 1983). The court has applied intermediate scrutiny to interpret the state ERA, modeled on the federal constitution.

    Virginia ratified the federal ERA on January 27, 2020 (and became the 38th and final state needed under Article V requirements to ratify the ERA).

    Sources

  • Washington

    Key:

    States with ERAs

    Washington

    “Equality of rights and responsibility under the law shall not be denied or abridged on account of sex.” Wash. Const. art. XXXI, § 1 (1972).

    Background

    The Washington ERA passed on November 7, 1972, with 645,115 votes in favor, 641,746 votes against.

    Jurisprudence

    The Supreme Court of Washington held in Darrin v. Gould that a school district’s refusal to allow two girls to play on the high school football team solely on the basis of their gender was unconstitutional. 540 P.2d 882 (Wash. 1975). In making its decision, the court remarked on the oppressive nature of discriminatory laws and corresponding barriers for women:

    “Laws which disable women from full participation in the political, business and economic arenas are often characterized as ‘protective’ and beneficial. Those same laws applied to racial or ethnic minorities would readily be recognized as invidious and impermissible. The pedestal upon which women have been placed has all too often, upon closer inspection, been revealed as a cage." Id. at 888 (citing Sailer Inn, Inc. v. Kirby, 5 Cal. 3d 1, 485 P.2d 529, 95 Cal. Rptr. 329 (1971)).

    Washington ratified the federal ERA on March 22, 1973.

    Sources

  • West Virginia

    West Virginia

  • Wisconsin

    Wisconsin

  • Wyoming

    Key:

    States with ERAs

    Wyoming

    “In their inherent right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, all members of the human race are equal.” Wyo. Const. art. I, § 2 (1890).

    “Since equality in the enjoyment of natural and civil rights is only made sure through political equality, the laws of this state affecting the political rights and privileges of its citizens shall be without distinction of race, color, sex, or any circumstance or condition whatsoever other than the individual incompetency or unworthiness duly ascertained by a court of competent jurisdiction.” Wyo. Const. art. I, § 3 (1890).

    “The rights of citizens of the state of Wyoming to vote and hold office shall not be denied or abridged on account of sex. Both male and female citizens of this state shall equally enjoy all civil, political and religious rights and privileges.” Wyo. Const. art. VI, § 1 (1890).

    Background

    The Wyoming ERA was included as part of Wyoming’s 1890 original constitution.

    Jurisprudence

    In Coyne v. State ex rel. Thomas, the Supreme Court of Wyoming used the state’s ERA to find that husbands and wives do not constitute a single entity, and therefore spouses of teachers and cooks at the school are not precluded from serving as trustees of the school district by concerns of incompatibility of office. 595 P.2d 970, 974 (Wyo. 1979).

    Wyoming ratified the federal ERA on April 22, 1972.

    Sources

This summary report was researched and prepared by Sadie Logerfo-Olsen (Fordham Law School) and Katie Hawkinson (Georgetown University) during their 2022 summer internship at the Brennan Center for Justice. Alicia Bannon, director of the judiciary program at the Brennan Center, and Jennifer Weiss-Wolf, executive director of the Birnbaum Women’s Leadership Network at NYU School of Law, conceptualized and supervised this project. Ting Ting Cheng, director of the ERA Project at Columbia Law School, provided invaluable contributions; she is currently developing model policy agendas for state executives to robustly implement state ERAs.

A version of this resource was also published in Ms. magazine.

UPDATE: This resource has been updated to state that Minnesota ratified the federal ERA on February 8, 1973.