The surprising resurgence of efforts to approve the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, a fight thought to be over after it failed to attract enough state approvals decades ago, is producing an echo in New York, a state which many assume is in the forefront of such rights.

As it turns out, the state has a patchwork of protections but not the far-reaching kind that only an amendment to the state Constitution can provide. Now, with renewed interest in codifying such rights and with vivid examples in many states as to just how vulnerable they can be, there is talk of bringing the state Constitution into line with what many assume are the beliefs of a majority of New Yorkers. And while the push to ensure equal rights for women is at the heart of this effort, it now has spread to include potential protection for the disabled and the LGBT community.

Amending the state Constitution is straightforward but not automatic. It takes approval by the state Legislature in two successive sessions and a majority vote in a general election. In recent years we have seen successful amendments to allow expanded casino licensing and alterations to the ways that electoral districts are defined. But there also can be skepticism and fear of changing our fundamental guiding document, sentiments that were clear when an attempt to call a wide-ranging constitutional convention to consider more changes proved to be very unpopular.

The Democratic takeover of the Legislature seems to make approval more likely and the notion that those legislators were elected by a majority in the state indicates that what succeeds in Albany is likely to succeed at the ballot box. It also is becoming more clear that New York needs this change,

As Susan Harper, chair of the state Bar Association's Women in Law Section, explained, "New York's Constitution mentions different classes like race, creed and religion. If sex were in there, it's possible that the evolution of cases, and how cases have played out over the years, would have been different, because our fundamental rights would have been enshrined in the Constitution."

Last year Sen. Liz Krueger, a Manhattan Democrat, introduced an amendment making the kind of clarification to the state Constitution that we have historically seen as necessary to the U.S. Constitution, including the rights of the disabled and LGBT individuals.

As she explained, "Transgender people are covered in some counties, in some activities, but not the state. Disabled people have federal protections. We are attempting a fairly global approach.”

As we watch the Trump administration’s attack on the rights of the transgendered, the case for action in New York only becomes more urgent.

We have learned in just the past two years how much we rely on our state government at a time when we cannot rely on the federal one. This is as true when it comes to education, energy and health care as it is to fundamental rights. A constitutional amendment concerning such rights would be the best kind of wall, a legal one that would protect New Yorkers no matter what threats existed elsewhere.