March 22, 1972
After it was approved by the Senate, the Equal Rights Amendment was sent to the states for ratification. Congress set a seven year deadline for the ratification process. Within a little more than a year, 30 state legislatures had signed on to the ERA, and it seemed likely to become the 27th Amendment.
• But the pace of acceptance slowed as opposition to the proposed amendment, and the women’s movement that gave birth to it, took shape. A three year extension was granted in 1979, but the ERA never cleared the final hurdle, falling three states short of the needed 38 for ratification.
• The ERA has been reintroduced before Congress every year since 1982, but it has never regained the place at the center of American political debate that it had in 1980, when 90,000 supporters marched in Chicago. Celebrity supporters included (from left) talk show host Phil Donahue, actress Marlo Thomas, author and activist Betty Friedan (center) and actress Jean Stapleton (far right).