President Joe Biden pledged to sign a bill that would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity within his first 100 days. But 71 days into the Biden presidency, the prospects of a signing ceremony for the landmark legislation are starting to look like dreams.
When it was adopted by Congress in 1972, the Equal Rights Amendment appeared to most observers as a lock for swift ratification. It was widely popular among the general public and had cross-party support even during an era of increasing political polarization, plus the coordinated backing of dozens of women’s organizations that had labored for decades in order to make it the law of the land.
Five decades later, the Equal Rights Amendment is still ghost legislation, its specter haunting civil rights activists who feel that its critical protections were thwarted by a labyrinthine legislative process seemingly constructed for the purpose of halting progress. Now, supporters of another landmark piece of civil rights legislation—backed by nearly 70 percent of Americans, and recently passed with a bipartisan majority in the House of Representatives after decades of near-misses—are growing increasingly concerned that it could meet the same fate.