Which States Ratified the ERA and When Did They Ratify?

After a Quick Start, the Pace of Ratification Slowed Then Stopped

ERA Supporters 1975
ERA Supporters 1975. Peter Keegan / Archive Photos / Getty Images

by Contributing Writer Linda Napikoski, updated and edited by Jone Johnson Lewis

After years of attempts to get it passed, on March 22, 1972, the Senate voted by 84 to 8 to send the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the states for ratification. 

First State to Ratify the ERA

The Senate vote took place in the mid-to-late afternoon in Washington D.C., when it was still midday in Hawaii. The Hawaii state Senate and House of Representatives voted their approval shortly after noon Hawaii Standard Time, making Hawaii the first state to ratify the ERA.

Hawaii also approved an equal rights amendment to its state constitution that same year. The "equality of rights" amendment has similar wording to the proposed federal ERA of the 1970s.

Momentum

On that first day of ERA ratification in March 1972, many senators, journalists, activists and other public figures predicted that the amendment would soon be ratified by the necessary three-fourths of the states, a total of 38 out of 50 states. 

New Hampshire and Delaware ratified the ERA on March 23.  Iowa and Idaho ratified on March 24. Kansas, Nebraska, and Texas ratified by the end of March. Seven more states ratified in April. Three ratified in May, and two in June.  Then one in September, one in November, one in January, followed by four in February, two more before the anniversary, and one on the one-year anniversary of senate passage.

One year later, 30 states had ratified the ERA. In fact, Washington ratified the amendment on March 22, 1973, becoming the 30th "Yes on ERA" state exactly one year later.

 Feminists were optimistic because the majority of people supported equality and 30 states ratified the ERA in the first year of the "new" ERA ratification struggle.

However, the pace had slowed, and only five more states ratified between 1973 and the final ERA deadline in 1982. The amendment fell three states short of the 38 out of 50 it needed to become part of the the U.S.

Constitution.

When States Ratified the ERA

1972
In the first year, 22 states ratified the ERA. Listed alphabetically, not in sequence of ratification within the year:
Alaska, California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia, Wisconsin
Total states so far: 22

1973
Eight more states ratified the next year.
Connecticut, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, South Dakota, Vermont, Washington, Wyoming
Total states so far: 30

1974
The pace had slowed significantly as the number of remaining states decreased. Three states ratified.
Maine, Montana, Ohio
Total states so far: 33

1975: Only one state voted yes on ERA.
North Dakota
Total states so far: 34

1976: No states ratified.
Total states so far: 34

1977: Indiana became the last state to ratify the ERA.
Total states so far: 35

Last State to Ratify the ERA

Indiana's ERA approval came five years after the proposed amendment was sent to the states for ratification in 1972. Indiana became the 35th state to ratify the amendment on January 18, 1977.

Falling Short

Unfortunately, the ERA eventually fell three states short of the necessary 38 states to become part of the Constitution.

Three-fourths of the state legislatures in the U.S. needed to ratify it, a total of 38 out of 50 states, and by 1978, only 35 had done so.

Did Any States Ratify During the Extension?

Near the end of the 1970s, Congress approved an extension of the ratification deadline. But did any states ratify the ERA during the deadline extension?

Unfortunately, the three-year extension did not bring any more state ratifications.

Anti-feminist forces spread resistance to a Constitutional guarantee of equal rights. Feminist activists renewed their efforts and managed to achieve a deadline extension, beyond the initial seven years. In 1978, the deadline for ratification was extended from 1979 to 1982.

But the anti-feminist backlash had begun to take its toll. Some legislators switched from their promised “yes” votes to voting against ERA.

Despite the fervent efforts of equality activists, and even a boycott of unratified states by major U.S. organizations and conventions, no states ratified the ERA during the deadline extension.

Which States Rescinded Their Ratification?

Thirty-five states ratified the proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Five of those states later rescinded their ERA ratifications for various reasons. The five states that rescinded their ERA ratifications were:

  • Idaho
  • Kentucky
  • Nebraska
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee

There is some question regarding the legitimacy of the five rescissions, for several reasons. Among the legal questions:

  1. Were the states legally rescinding only incorrectly worded procedural resolutions but still leaving the amendment ratification intact?
  2. Are all ERA questions moot because the deadline has passed?
  3. Do states have the power to rescind an amendment ratification? Article V of the Constitution deals with the process of amending the Constitution, but it talks only about ratification and does not empower states to rescind ratifications. There is legal precedent invalidating rescission of other amendment ratifications.

Many feminists continue to work for passage of an amendment guaranteeing equality of rights under the law. Some legal scholars have advocated a three-states strategy, arguing that the 35 ratifications from the 1970s are still valid because the ERA deadline for ratification was only part of the accompanying instructions, not the text of the amendment.

Which States Did Not Ratify the ERA?

  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Illinois
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Nevada
  • North Carolina
  • Oklahoma
  • South Carolina
  • Utah
  • Virginia
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Lewis, Jone Johnson. "Which States Ratified the ERA and When Did They Ratify?" ThoughtCo, Oct. 31, 2017, thoughtco.com/which-states-ratified-the-era-3528872. Lewis, Jone Johnson. (2017, October 31). Which States Ratified the ERA and When Did They Ratify? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/which-states-ratified-the-era-3528872 Lewis, Jone Johnson. "Which States Ratified the ERA and When Did They Ratify?" ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/which-states-ratified-the-era-3528872 (accessed November 18, 2017).