Q: What is the complete text of the Minnesota Constitutional Amendment for Equality?
A: Equality of rights under the law shall not be abridged or denied by the state of Minnesota or any
of its political subdivisions on account of gender.
Q: Is an amendment for equal rights to the Minnesota Constitution necessary?
A: It is true that all gender issues (except adultery laws) in Minnesota statutes have been meticulously equalized (thanks in part to Representative Phyllis Kahn). But legislation can be rolled back. The Legislature can repeal a statute with a simple majority vote.
We feel that to suggest legislation is enough is to say that equal rights between men and women are not important enough to be protected and upheld in the State Constitution. Other Constitutional amendments that currently exist include authorizing a state lottery, protecting hunting and fishing rights, dedicating money to the environment, and authorizing money to Vietnam and Persian Gulf Veterans. Few would argue that these provisions are more important than equal rights for all the citizens of our state.
Q: What is the history of the Minnesota ERA?
After the Federal ERA was defeated in June of 1982, Representative Phyllis Kahn and Senator Linda Berglin introduced House File 1 and Senate File 1 into the 1983 Legislative session. Because of an abortion law that was overturned in Pennsylvania that same year, a state with an ERA in their constitution, legislatures around the country began inappropriately associating equal rights with abortion laws. In Minnesota, the Legislature also withdrew the ERA from its agenda.
Since 1983, Senator Dick Cohen has introduced a Constitutional amendment for equality in every Legislative session. The last time the bill was brought up in a House or Senate committee hearing was in 2001 when Senator John Marty became the chair of the Senate Judiciary committee. Minnesota NOW testified at that hearing.