Constitutional amendment would guarantee equality for women under the law

Thursday, February 13, 2020- Washington, D.C.– Today, Vice Chair of the House Democratic Caucus Representative Katherine Clark (MA-5) joined the U.S. House of Representatives in passing H.J.Res. 79, a joint resolution to remove the ratification deadline for the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) paving the path for women’s rights to be enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.

“Although the majority of Americans are women and a record number of us currently work in Congress alongside a female Speaker of the House, our rights still remain unprotected in the Constitution,” said Congresswoman Clark. “Without an equal rights amendment, the many protections that women currently rely on can be wiped away. We must enshrine women’s rights into our nation’s founding document to ensure that we never take a step backward, and that we as a country continue to strive for a more perfect union.”

“Since Mass NOW was founded over 50 years ago, generations of feminists have been fighting for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment,” said Mass NOW President Sasha Goodfriend. “Today‘s vote in the House is a historic moment in the movement for gender equity, energizing the work we are doing here on the state level. In 2020, the centennial anniversary of the 19th Amendment, we can feel the energy of the women’s movement growing more with every generation.”

The Equal Rights Amendment affirms that:

  • Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.
  • The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
  • This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.

Congress approved the ERA in 1972 and set a seven-year deadline in the preamble for 38 states to ratify. The deadline was later extended to 1982, but it passed with only 35 states having ratified. In January 2020, and 100 years after the ratification of the 19th amendment, Virginia became the 38th state needed to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. By removing the deadline initially enacted, the nation is one step closer to protecting women’s rights and equality in our nation’s foundational legal document.

Women face several barriers to full equality in the United States, including unequal pay, pregnancy discrimination, sexual and domestic violence, and inadequate health care access. The ERA would be a crucial asset in challenging sex discrimination by applying the most rigorous judicial review to laws and government policies that treat women unfairly.