On Tuesday, Congresswomen Jackie Speier (D-Ca.) and Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) hosted a press conference at the U.S. Capitol to announce the introduction of legislation in support of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). They were joined by activists and organizations spearheading the movement such as the Feminist Majority, the National Organization for Women, the National Women’s Law Center, the ERA Coalition, Virginia General Assembly Delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy (D-Price William), actors and activists Alyssa Milano and Patricia Arquette, and other members of Congress.
Because the 1982 deadline has been one of the biggest obstacles to the ERA, Rep. Speier plans to introduce a bill to Congress that will remove the 1982 deadline from the ERA bill. Speier mentions the statue of a woman called “Contemplation of Justice” which resides on the steps of the Supreme Court, and states women are tired of contemplating justice; “we want justice now.” Rep. Maloney introduced a separate bill to kick-start the ratification process again. Supporters of the ERA have waited long enough and continue to push forth effort in ratifying the ERA.
As Alyssa Milano stated, “it is time for the Constitution to reflect the principles of three words- ‘We the People[…];’” she continues, “equality is not an issue of party. It is not as issue of politics. It’s an issue of basic human dignity. The Equal Rights Amendment is a powerful simple statement. We are all equal. It’s a basic American ideal… 94% of Americans believe that gender equality belongs in the Constitution… this is not just political, this is personal. Ratifying the ERA will be a statement of principle, it will send a message to our daughters and our sons, to those who govern our states and make our laws, to our country, and to the world. These rights are our birthright, but enshrining them in the Constitution, is our responsibility. My name is Alyssa Milano, and I belong in the Constitution.”
Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority stated at the press conference that, “Generations of women have fought to achieve constitutional equality through an Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The movement to ratify the ERA has maintained increasing momentum because women continue to be fed up with the discrimination faced in schools, in the workplace, in our homes, and on the streets. Congress has a duty to correct a historic mistake and remove the arbitrary deadline in the preamble of the ERA. The states never voted on the deadline, and there can be no time limit on the pursuit of equality and justice.”
On January 15th, the Republican majority Senate of the state of Virginia passed a resolution to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. The resolution is now the responsibility of the House. The Senate has passed the resolution multiple times in the past, but the Virginia House’s Privileges and Elections Committee has blocked the resolution from coming to the floor for a vote.
Media Resources: Washington Post 1/29/19; The Hill 1/29/19; Politico Twitter 1/29/19; House of Congress Rep. Carolyn Maloney 1/29/19; Feminist News 1/17/19