Mormons for ERA

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The Equal Rights Amendment was a proposed amendment to the Constitution of the United States passed in both houses of Congress in 1972, and then submitted to the states for ratification. The proposed amendment needed to be ratified by at least thirty-eight states before the deadline of March 22, 1979 (which was later extended to June 30, 1982) or it would fail to become law. The intent of the amendment was to ensure equal rights for all citizens regardless of sex. Many men and women across the country supported the proposed amendment and urged their state legislators to ratify it. By 1977 thirty-five states had ratified the amendment. During these years of debate and voting, many pro-ERA organizations campaigned for the ratification of the amendment.

Mormons for ERA, founded in 1978, was a pro-ERA organization that opened several chapters in various states where the ratification debate continued to rage. The Mormons for ERA organization was composed of a small minority of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “Mormon” being a common nickname for church members. Mormons for ERA campaigned for the ratification of the amendment in direct opposition to their own church, which adopted an official stance opposing the ERA and encouraged members to work against its ratification. Ultimately, the Equal Rights Amendment failed to garner sufficient votes for ratification and did not become law.

The purpose of this exhibit is to examine both organizations’ key arguments and stance on the ERA. We will identify the source of their divided views and how this dispute contributed to the national debate on the ratification of ERA. We will also address how this debate ties in to the larger shift in women’s domestic roles and legal rights during this period.