Why women are wearing “ERA Yes” buttons at the State of the Union

If the ERA is ratified, advocates say it would give people more tools when they challenge discriminatory laws or practices in court. Federal courts have interpreted the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment as conferring some protection against sex discrimination, Emily Martin, vice president for education and workplace justice at the National Women’s Law Center, told Vox earlier this year. But adding an explicit ban on such discrimination in the Constitution would likely force courts to take the issue much more seriously.

People could use the Equal Rights Amendment to challenge anything from unequal pay to restrictions on abortion, Martin said. And it wouldn’t just affect women’s rights. By banning discrimination on the basis of sex, it could implicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity as well, offering protections to gay and trans people regardless of their gender.