In the late 1970s, Phyllis Schlafly argued that the ERA could be interpreted to require unisex bathrooms, same-sex marriage, and the military draft for women. ERA supporters accused her of fear mongering. But a funny thing happened: State constitutions with ERA-like provisions were indeed cited in courts arguments for same-sex marriage. It’s therefore hard to avoid acknowledging that she had a point. The difference today is that many are ready to embrace what Schlafly saw as an argument against the ERA.
Still, I’d be surprised if the ERA train gathers steam on the left. In 1996, feminist groups vehemently opposed California’s Proposition 209, which prohibits (among other things) the state from discriminating or granting preferential treatment based on sex in employment and contracting. Prop 209’s feminist opponents didn’t want equal rights then. They wanted affirmative action for women-owned businesses, etc. I wrote about it a few years ago during the last “Let’s bring back the ERA” movement.
Since the ERA would put affirmative action preferences for women in serious jeopardy, it’s hard to imagine left-leaning feminist groups pushing the ERA for any purpose beyond fundraising.