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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Women might be considered equal under the law, if Utah leaders support the ERA

Apr 15, 2021 09:16AM ● By Cassie Goff

Cottonwood Heights Councilmember Tali Bruce hopes ratifying the ERA will send a message to women and girls that they are valued. Photo taken during the 2020 Legislative Session. (Photo courtesy of Councilmember Tali Bruce)

By Cassie Goff | [email protected]

Last year, the Cottonwood Heights City Journal reported on the efforts of elected officials to get the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) passed federally. The resolution was tabled. This year, the resolution has been brought back into the Utah State Legislative session.  

On Feb. 16, the Cottonwood Heights City Council discussed a resolution showing support for the ERA. City Manager Tim Tingey provided a quick background on the origin of the ERA and the current context. 

“The ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment is in front of the Utah Legislature,” Tingey said. “Women have served as the head of all three branches at some point in time. Women have prominent roles in Utah leadership including 23% of the legislators and most of the judges in the courts in Utah.” 

“Most Americans assume we have equal rights in this country,” said Cottonwood Heights City Councilmember Tali Bruce. “Gender is not a protected class like race and ethnicity. It’s significant in a judicial sense as women are defined as dependents. This protects women for matters of equal pay. Utah suffers horribly in terms of the pay gap. It’s a strong symbolic thing for women, and I feel strongly about it. I am making an impassioned plea to get this passed.” 

“We represent 35,000 residents. Our state legislators will appreciate the vote of confidence as they push it forward in the state legislature,” said City Councilmember Christine Mikell. 

“I think it’s appropriate that we express our position and support for equal rights,” said Mayor Michael Peterson. “Though it’s symbolic in nature because it’s not really a municipal issue; it’s a state and federal issue.”  

“I want to make clear how important I believe women are. I would never want to be thought of as someone who did not have the highest admiration for women and what they do for us. I know it is a problem for some people. I’ve been in business for many years, and I’ve seen people who do take advantage. If this is a state or federal issue, and it’s in front of our legislature right now, I’m not sure it will get out,” said City Councilmember Doug Peterson. 

“My position is still that as a municipality and city council we have taken an oath to support the Utah Constitution which has a version of the ERA in place. We exercise it in the City and we do conform to it. This is absolutely a state issue; I don’t see it as being a municipal issue,” said Cottonwood Heights City Councilmember Scott Bracken. 

“This is a bipartisan issue,” Bruce countered as both of the legislators representing Cottonwood Heights were in support. “I wish to express gratitude to (Sen. Kathleen Riebe and Rep. Karen Kwan) for running this bipartisan bill together. I am proud of our area and the representation we have.” 

“This is something worth passing. The resolution is well written and I like the language in it. There’s value in us taking the position,” said Mayor Peterson. 

Resolution 2021-07: Supporting Ratification by the State of Utah of the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was passed by the Cottonwood Heights City Council. There was one abstention by Bracken.