Equal Rights Amendment bill returns to the MN Capitol

Minnesota passed the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1973, a year after Congress sent the issue to the states. The effort to add the measure to the Constitution fell three states short despite Congress extending the deadline by three years — to 1982.

While it was willing to see the measure added to the U.S. Constitution, the state never added it to the state constitution.

Today, Sen. Dick Cohen, DFL-St. Paul, filed a bill to change that.

His bill would send this question to voters in 2016.

“Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to provide that equality under the law must not be abridged or denied on account of gender?”

Similar efforts have failed at the Legislature previously. Supporters say without a constitutional guarantee, legal protections for women — Title IX and the Minnesota Human Rights Act, for example — could be overturned by a shift in the legislative majority.

There’s a fair chance this bill will fail, too, since opponents will point out that the question would appear on the same ballot as one that will likely carry Hillary Clinton’s name for president.

There is no companion legislation in the Minnesota House.