“While we currently celebrate the first female Vice President and a record number of women in Congress, women’s rights in America remain unprotected in the Constitution,” said Assistant Speaker Clark. “The pandemic further exposed and exacerbated the equities women face and if we are going to correct these injustices, we need to start by guaranteeing equal protection under the law. This is our moment to cement equality into our founding document, ensure that we never take a step backward, and continue our march toward a more perfect union. Today, the House rightly proclaimed that there is no timeline on equality.”
“Mass NOW has been fighting for the ERA since our founding over 50 years ago,” said Sasha Goodfried, President of MassNOW. “We applaud the House for passing H.J. Res. 17 and will continue building upon generations of feminists in fighting for full constitutional equity. ”
The ERA was first proposed in 1923 by suffragist Alice Paul, just a few years after women gained the right to vote. The constitutional amendment was then introduced in every session of Congress until it passed in 1972 by bipartisan majorities in both the House and Senate. Congress then placed an arbitrary seven-year deadline on the ratification process before extending the deadline to 1982, but only 35 ratified the ERA before the arbitrary deadline. However, with the recent ratifications of the ERA by Nevada in 2017, Illinois in 2018 and Virginia in 2020, the 38 states needed for certification of the ERA to be become the 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution has now been reached.
The Equal Rights Amendment simply states: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State on account of sex.” It would affirm women’s equality in our Constitution, enshrining the principle of women’s equality and an explicit prohibition against sex discrimination in the nation’s foundational document.
H.J.Res. 17 removes the arbitrary deadline for ratification set in 1982 and takes a critical step toward ensuring the ERA officially becomes part of our Constitution. As the 28th Amendment, the ERA would:
- Give women a key tool in the legal arsenal to combat everyday discrimination women face, including pay discrimination, pregnancy discrimination, and sexual and domestic violence;
- Provide a single, national baseline protection against sex discrimination across the country; and
- Apply the most rigorous judicial review to laws and government policies that discriminate against women and it would ensure that laws or policies that are inconsistent with equality for women be struck down.
# # #