Washington, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA), joined by Congressman Tom Reed (R-NY) and 195 cosponsors, reintroduced her House Joint Resolution to facilitate expeditious ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). By removing the arbitrary deadline for ratification, Rep. Speier’s resolution clears up any legal ambiguity and reaffirms Congress’ support for the ERA and women’s equality. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) also announced their companion joint resolution in the U.S. Senate, which also removes the deadline to ratify the ERA.
“Since our country’s founding, women have been left out of the Constitution – intentionally. We were second-class citizens deprived of basic rights to vote, enter most jobs, or own property. To this day, we are paid less for our work, violated with impunity, and disproportionately suffer the burden of the COVID-19 pandemic. Enough is enough. With President Biden and Vice President Harris at the helm, this will finally be the year we ratify the ERA to the Constitution,” said Rep. Jackie Speier, Co-Chair of the Democratic Women’s Caucus.
“We care about ensuring every individual in our great nation, regardless of gender, has the opportunity to enjoy the same basic rights before the law. For survivors of sexual violence, pregnancy discrimination, or unequal pay, the ratification of the ERA will be a critical step towards equal justice,” said Rep. Tom Reed. “This isn’t an issue of politics – it’s an issue of fairness for all Americans. Congress must press forward and end any unnecessary barriers to the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.”
“There should be no time limit on equality. Even as we celebrate America’s first female Vice President, our nation is held back as the only modern constitution that fails to enshrine full equality for both men and women. This is unacceptable,” said Senator Ben Cardin. “Most Americans are surprised to learn that the ERA is not already part of the U.S. Constitution. The states have done their job to make this happen. Now Congress must finally do its job and remove any legal obstacles to certifying the ERA.”
“As we begin a new Congress, I can think of no better legislation to lead with than one that removes impediments to find ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment—an amendment that firmly embeds in law equality between men and women. We first moved the ERA through Congress back in 1972, but we stalled out on certification by the states until last year when Virginia ratified the ERA. After years of work alongside Senator Cardin, I urge my colleagues to join us in ensuring equality for all,” said Senator Murkowski.
“The health and economic crises caused by the COVID-19 pandemic put a spotlight on many underlying problems we, as a nation, have yet to resolve, including rampant gender discrimination. To build back better under the Biden-Harris Administration, we must go beyond band-aid solutions and temporary fixes.,” said Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney. “Women and all marginalized genders need equality under the law. This can only be secured by adding the Equal Rights Amendment to our Constitution. It is long past time to finally cement gender equality in our nation’s most important text, once and for all.”
When Congress passed the ERA in 1972, it attached an arbitrary 7-year ratification deadline which was later extended three more years. By 1982, 35 states out of the required 38 states voted to ratify the amendment. Over the past several years, grassroots campaigns have successfully secured ratification votes in Nevada, Illinois, and Virginia, which became the 38th state to ratify the ERA last January. The House passed Rep. Speier’s resolution in the 116th Congress, H.J.Res.79, on Feb. 13, 2020 with a bipartisan vote of 232-183. Both the House and Senate are expected to move quickly to hold a vote on the joint resolution this year.
A copy of Rep. Speier’s Joint Resolution can be found here.
Quotes from supporting organizations:
“This is a historic and monumental step forward for all 94 percent of Americans who agree that women should have equal rights in our Constitution. In a time of deep division, here is something we all agree on: there can be no time limit on equality,” said Carol Jenkins, president and CEO of the ERA Coalition. “We thank Senators Cardin and Murkowski and Reps. Speier and Reed for their bipartisan leadership and tireless commitment to equality. Against a backdrop of national turmoil and pain, today shows that progress is still possible, and the ERA is a great unifying opportunity to secure a more equal future for everyone,” added Jenkins, whose leadership of the ERA Coalition has centered the perspectives and participation those whose lives are most impacted by systemic inequities, including Black, Indigenous and Women of Color, gender-nonconforming and transgender women and girls, and nonbinary people.”
“It’s never too late to do the right thing — and to be clear, ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment is the right thing,” said Tina Tchen, president and CEO of TIME’S UP Now. “History was made this week when our first Madam Vice President was sworn into office, but structural barriers to equality for all genders will remain as long as our constitution does not make it plain that equal rights are for all, no matter your sex. Period.”
“The 100-year fight for granting gender equality in the U.S. Constitution must not be shredded by an out-of-date and irrelevant timeline. Thankfully Rep. Jackie Speier is moving early in this Congressional session to remove this fig leaf and to help pave the pathway for the Equal Rights Amendment to be enshrined finally in the Constitution in 2021,” said Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority and a 50-year veteran in the struggle for the ERA.
“The need for the ERA has not expired, and our work to ensure that the Constitution reflects and reaffirms our national commitment to gender equality is more urgent than ever. Congress should lift the deadline as the next step to ensuring that the ERA becomes a part of our country’s foundational documents,” said Fatima Goss Graves, President and CEO of the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC).
“Rep. Speier has long been a feminist champion and we applaud her efforts to remove the arbitrary deadline for ERA ratification and enshrine equal protections for all, regardless of sex, under the law,” said Christian F. Nunes, president of the National Organization for Women (NOW). “NOW has long advocated for the ERA, believing this fundamental right is what will lead to more equal opportunity and treatment for women in all spheres of life. This is a long overdue step needed to protect against any potential rollback of the many advancements we have made for women’s rights in this country.”
“The research is clear: our efforts to end sexual violence are inextricably linked to women’s equality. The Equal Rights Amendment is imperative and long overdue,” said Terri Poore, Policy Director of the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence.
“The inauguration of the first woman and woman of color vice president marks a new day for our nation and our democracy to reimagine a better tomorrow,” said Alejandra Y. Castillo, CEO, YWCA USA. “For generations, women have fought to be recognized in the U.S. Constitution and to achieve equality with men. The ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment is a critical step toward addressing the challenges disproportionately affecting women and is essential to advancing YWCA’s intersectional mission to eliminate racism and empower women. YWCA USA applauds the introduction of the ERA and urges Members to swiftly pass this important bill.”
“We continue to live in a society where women are underpaid, undervalued and treated as other. And for women of color, trans and queer women and women with disabilities, the inequities are magnified. We are encouraged that the renewed push for the ERA shows we are in a time of great momentum for fighting for equality for all women,” said Erika Moritsugu, Vice President for Congressional Relations of the National Partnership for Women and Families.
“The unfulfilled promise of the Equal Rights Amendment remains as urgent today as it was in 1972. The House of Representatives lifting the deadline to ratify the ERA is an important step toward a nation where everyone has the freedom to thrive regardless of gender. We strongly support this legislation and urge Congress to adopt it,” said Ria Tabacco Mar, Director of the ACLU Women’s Rights Project.