Oregon ERA: Necessary or merely symbolic?

With ballots set to start arriving in the mail, voters will soon decide whether to add an equal rights amendment to the Oregon Constitution.

There is no organized opposition to the measure that has flown under the radar in an election season dominated by races for statewide office and the issues of marijuana legalization and labeling genetically modified foods.

The American Civil Liberties Union is one group that disagrees with the measure. It says the Oregon Constitution already has language that protects women from gender-based discrimination and “symbolic” amendments should not be added.

Supporters of a state ERA say the effort is not symbolic. They contend that current protections are based on case law, and amending the state Constitution would help prevent future members of the Oregon Supreme Court from rolling back women’s rights.