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ERA Utah supporters hold rally at the State Capitol building

University of Utah student Jessica Wojciechowski, right, speaking in front of ERA supporters at the Utah Capitol. Credit: Paul Nelson

SALT LAKE CITY —  Dozens of people rallied at the Utah State Capitol on Tuesday, calling on Utah’s lawmakers to join other states in ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment, ERA, and making the ERA a constitutional amendment. 

Supporters of the ERA were gathered in front of the Martha Hughes Cannon statue next to the Utah State Capitol building. They said they’re frustrated that SJR 9, the joint resolution that would let the state ratify the ERA, is stuck in the Senate Rules Committee.

And there’s no reason for it to be stuck said Utah ERA Coalition Chair Emily Bell McCormick, who believes equality is a concept Utahns understand very well.

“This is a value that Utah has had.  We have an equality clause in our state constitution,” she said.

She said that if Utahns were asked about whether or not they support the concept of equal rights being officially mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, most people would gladly say they support it.

“People think ‘we’re on board.’  In fact, the majority of people actually believe that the Equal Rights Amendment has already been ratified and that it exists, but it hasn’t,” Bell McCormick said.

She acknowledges there are many laws all across the country that are designed to protect women from discrimination, but she says laws can be overturned. So, she believes anti-discrimination laws already on the books are at risk. 

“There are a lot of laws that help women. We have a lot of smaller laws but none of them are permanently binding. If there is an amendment to the U.S. Constitution, then it’s actually permanently binding,” she said.

Bell McCormick doubts the joint resolution would get out of the Rules Committee by the end of the 2021 legislative session. However, even if it isn’t ratified this year, she said she has reason to feel optimistic about the amendment’s future in Utah.

“We [see] the success [as being] that we really found bipartisan support for it.”

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