Washington, D.C. Feb. 13, 2020 – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed Congresswoman Jackie Speier’s (D-CA) H.J.Res.79 on a bipartisan vote of 232 to 183 to facilitate timely ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the U.S. Constitution. Rep. Speier is the House sponsor of the joint resolution to remove the deadline to ratify the ERA, paving the way forward for passage of this historic amendment and reaffirming Congress’ support for women’s equality. H.J.Res.79 is cosponsored by 224 bipartisan Members of the U.S. House of Representatives. Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) have introduced a companion joint resolution in the U.S. Senate.
“Today, the House of Representatives sent a clear message to women and men who have fought for generations for true equality with its historic vote to pass my resolution to facilitate the ratification of the ERA. At the centennial of the 19th Amendment, Speaker Pelosi, Leader Hoyer, and the entire Democratic Caucus stood up for the rights of women to achieve equal justice under law. Today, we made it clear that progress and justice cannot be stopped and that righteousness still prevails in our proud democracy,” said Rep. Jackie Speier, Co-Chair of the Democratic Women’s Caucus. “For those who question the need for the ERA, they need look no further than the gender wage gap that continues to keep women and families from achieving their full potential, pregnancy discrimination that forces women out of the workforce, persistent and insidious violations of the rights of survivors, and much more. Now is the time for the Archivist to act swiftly to certify the ERA, and for our Constitution to finally recognize that women are equal to men under law.”
When Congress passed the ERA in 1972, it attached an arbitrary 7-year ratification deadline to the preamble which was later extended three more years. By 1982, 35 states out of the required 38 states voted to ratify the amendment. In the past three years, grassroots campaigns have successfully secured ratification votes in Nevada, Illinois, and most recently, Virginia.
HJ Res 79 is supported by women’s and equal rights organizations who have long championed action to ensure the ERA is ratified:
ERA Coalition: “Today is a momentous day for the Equal Rights Amendment. Our polling shows that 94% of Americans want the Equal Rights Amendment to be part of the Constitution. In 2020, women should no longer be second-class citizens in the United States of America.” [2/11/20]
Ria Tabacco Mar, Director of the ACLU Women’s Rights Project: “The House of Representatives lifting the deadline to ratify the ERA is one step toward leaving no doubt that that ‘we the people’ includes all of us. The vast majority of Americans support the ERA. It’s 2020, not 1920. It’s long past time to update our laws and policies to make sex equality not only the law, but the reality for people of all genders.” [02/12/20]
Alejandra Y. Castillo, CEO of YWCA USA: “We’ve reached a critical moment for women’s equality and the work of justice. Women have fought for generations to be recognized in the U.S. Constitution. The passage of the bill to remove the deadline on the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment brings our nation one step closer towards realizing the promise of equality for all. YWCA applauds the House of Representatives for taking bold and decisive action and urges the Senate to act swiftly to continue progress towards ratification of the ERA.” [2/12/20]
Toni Van Pelt, President of the National Organization for Women (NOW): “Congress must remove the arbitrary timeline and reaffirm its commitment to the ERA. A democracy that fails to include women in its founding document is a failed democracy.” [2/11/20]
Terri Poore, Policy Director of the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence: “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.” [2/12/20]
Fatima Goss Graves, President and CEO of the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC): “There should be no deadline on gender equality. It is a core mission of the Trump administration to not only hold up our fight for equality, but actively push us back in time. We urge Congress to make clear its commitment to equal rights by lifting the deadline and working to ensure that the ERA become a part of our country’s foundational documents.” [2/12/20]
Sarah Fleisch Fink, Vice President of President for Policy & Strategy of the National Partnership for Women and Families: “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.” [2/12/20]
A copy of Rep. Speier’s joint resolution can be found here.