Position Statement -2019
S.3249 (Salazar) /A.271 (Seawright)
The Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York (WBASNY) supports an amendment to Section 11 of Article 1 of the New York State Constitution in relation to equal rights for women by adding sex as a protected class. Currently, the New York State Constitution fails to provide equal protections against discrimination on the basis of sex. This omission in our state’s constitution must be rectified.
The Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution does not go far enough to protect against discrimination based on gender, nor does the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The 14th Amendment has never been interpreted by the courts to grant equal rights on the basis of gender in the uniform and inclusive way that a more broadly defined Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) in our State Constitution would.
An ERA would work to prevent the diminishment of women’s rights in domestic violence, health, education and employment, regardless of what occurs at the federal level. It would clarify the legal status of sex discrimination for state courts and make it consistent with the laws against discrimination based on race, color, creed or religion.
It is well settled that American women working full time are generally paid less than males working at the same job. Currently, women earn less than men in almost all of the common occupations for women, and women are twice as likely as men to work in occupations with wages at or close to poverty level. An ERA could help balance the scales, with respect to equal pay.
WBASNY consists of over 4,200 members from twenty (20) chapters across New York State dedicated to promoting the advancement of the status of women in society and of women in the legal profession, and to the fair and equal administration of justice. Our members include individuals from all levels of state and federal benches, as well as prominent attorneys practicing in all areas of the law, educators and government leaders.