Topeka — A political movement from more than a generation ago has resurfaced in Kansas - an Equal Rights Amendment aimed at ensuring that women have the same constitutional rights as men.
"I think this is a position we need to take," state Rep. Geraldine Flaharty, D-Wichita, said Monday.
Flaharty has introduced a resolution to amend the Kansas Constitution by adding a section that says equal rights under the law shall not be denied on account of sex.
To become part of the constitution, the measure would require two-thirds approval in the state House and Senate, and then a majority in a statewide vote.
For now, Flaharty simply is trying to get a hearing on House Concurrent Resolution 5017 during the current legislative session.
"It's under the radar for most people right now," she said.
But it's not the first time an Equal Rights Amendment has been before the Kansas Legislature.
In the 1970s, the Kansas Legislature was one of the first in the nation to ratify a proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. But the amendment failed because it was ratified by only 35 of the required 38 states.
Even with the failure of the national effort, many states have in their constitutions guarantees of equal rights regardless of sex.
Kansas doesn't, said Marla Patrick, statewide coordinator of the Kansas National Organization for Women.
Patrick said that because the federal ERA was never ratified and the Kansas Constitution doesn't have a similar amendment, women's rights are left to the decisions of current lawmakers.
"Women should not have to fight for their rights with every changing political cycle," Patrick said. "It is unconscionable that women are denied full constitutional rights when they are equally contributing members of our society."