Congresswoman Speier Introduces Resolution to Allow for Ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment

May 14, 2015

WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-San Francisco/San Mateo counties) introduced H.J. Res. 51, a joint resolution that will remove the deadline and allow for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Maryland) introduced identical legislation last week. H.J. Res. 51 currently has 146 cosponsors.

“It’s a twenty-first century scandal that the U.S. Constitution doesn’t contain explicit protections for women’s equality,” said Speier. “When asked, the vast majority of Americans think it already has such a provision—and they’re appalled to hear it doesn’t. Without explicit protections for women’s equality in the Constitution, we will continue to see discrimination against women. With all the progress women have made, it’s long past time for a permanent standard ensuring all women and men are equal under the law.”

“There should never be a time clock on equality. We cannot allow an arbitrary deadline to stand in the way of equal rights for our mothers and daughters, wives, sisters, aunts, and grandmothers. We should be working to ensure that all women realize the promise of equal protection under the law,” said Senator Ben Cardin. “I’m proud to team up once again with Congresswoman Speier in this push to finally ratify the Equal Rights Amendment and at last make equality for women explicitly clear in our Constitution.”

The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) would specify in an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that “equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State on account of sex.” In 1923, on the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Seneca Falls Convention, Alice Paul first announced the ERA. This amendment was introduced in every session of Congress from 1923 until it passed in 1972. Thirty-five states ratified the ERA before the deadline, leaving us just three states short.

Years later, an ERA is still necessary. As U.S. Supreme Court Justice Scalia explained in a Supreme Court opinion, “Certainly the Constitution does not require discrimination on the basis of sex. The only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn’t.” Congresswoman Speier’s joint resolution follows the “three-state” approach to ratification of the ERA, which would strike the expired deadline and restart the “ratification clock” so that the amendment would become part of the Constitution once three more states authorize it.

“I believe strongly that we only need three more states to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. The Twenty-Seventh Amendment, introduced by James Madison, was passed by Congress in 1789, nearly 203 years before it was ratified by the states in 1992. If no time limit was acceptable for an amendment by one of the Founding Fathers, it should be good for the women of America today,” said Ellie Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation.

“The continuing war on women shows that an Equal Rights Amendment is needed now more than ever. Rep. Speier’s three-state strategy bill for removing the deadline from the preamble to the 1972 ERA is the best and most expeditious path to full ratification by the required 38 states. The House should pass this bill without delay!" said Terry O'Neill, president of the National Organization for Women.

“It’s time for all women to receive equal pay for their labor. There is no ‘woman discount’ so there should be no discount in the pay we receive for the work that we do. If we really want to end poverty, then we must end the pay disparity based on sex and race,” said Andrea Miller, executive director of People Demanding Action.

“We have a baseball, football, basketball Hall of Fame for men. We have Mt. Rushmore and other recognitions for men only. Why? Men have always had greater opportunities than women and girls. We applaud men who’ve achieved highly—even though many have achieved highly at our expense. Now it’s time for women and girls to have equal opportunities. It’s time women and girls have equal rights to succeed in any field we wish to do so. ERA will make this possible,” said Dr. E. Faye Williams, president of the National Congress of Black Women.

“The ERA Coalition welcomes the re-introduction of legislation in the House of Representatives relating to the Equal Rights Amendment. The inclusion of sex equality as a fundamental principle in the United States Constitution is long overdue. We urge all representatives to join Congresswoman Speier and the other co-sponsors of this legislation to put the Equal Rights Amendment in the Constitution where it belongs,” said Jessica Neuwirth, president of the ERA Coalition.

“The Equal Rights Amendment simply affirms that there should be no difference between the rights of women and men under the Constitution. There is nothing more American than that. We thank Congresswoman Speier and other representatives who are working to make this guarantee a part of the Constitution. We encourage those representatives who are not yet co-sponsors to sign on and help make legal sex equality a reality,” said Roberta W. Francis and Bettina Hager, co-chairs of the ERA Task Force at the National Council of Women’s Organizations.

“AAUW remains deeply committed to the passage and ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment,” said Lisa Maatz, vice president for government relations at the American Association of University Women. “While women continue to make historic strides, we still don’t have equal rights under the law. Congress must ensure that everyone, regardless of sex, receives equal opportunities that are enumerated and guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. Congresswoman Jackie Speier’s bill is key to making that happen, and it’s past time we got it done.”

“We at ERA Action, a national grassroots movement dedicated to the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment via the three-state strategy, are thrilled to be working with Congresswoman Jackie Speier to remove the deadline to ratify the ERA. The movement is rapidly growing across the nation as activists join together to pass this crucial legislation. Following in the footsteps of our guiding spirit, Dr. Alice Paul, author of the ERA, who proclaimed the Twentieth Century ‘Great Demand’—a constitutional amendment granting votes for American women—we declare the Twenty-First Century Great Demand to be the ratification of the ERA,” said Cathy Kaelin and Tammy Simkins, co-founders and co-directors of ERA Action.

H.J. Res. 51 is supported by numerous organizations including the Alaska Women’s Network, Alice Paul Institute, American Association of University Women, American Humanist Association (AHA), AHA Feminist Caucus, Business and Professional Women’s Foundation (BPW), Arkansans 4 Immediate Passage of ERA, Center for Advancement of Public Policy (CAPP), Center for Women’s Policy Studies, Clearinghouse on Women’s Issues, Coalition for the ERA, Coalition of Labor Union Women, CT Permanente Commission on Women, ERA Action, ERAmerica, ERA Campaign Network, ERA Coalition, ERA Education Fund, Inc., ERA NOW, Equal Rights Advocates, Equal Rights Alliance, Equal Visibility Everywhere, Federally Employed Women, Feminist Majority Foundation, Gender Equality Solidarity Society, Girls Gotta Run Foundation, Girls Give Back, Gray Panthers, Hadassah Women’s Zionist, Indian American Leadership Council, Katrina’s Dream, Majority United, Missouri Women’s Network,  National Association of Social Workers, National Congress of Black Women, National Council of Jewish Women, National Council of PR Women, National Council of Women of USA, National Council of Women’s Organizations - ERA Task Force, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, National Organization for Women, National Women’s Law Center, National Women’s Political Caucus, NWPC-Florida, NWPC-Missouri, NYPC-New Mexico, One Struggle One Fight, Progressive Democrats of America, Radical Women, Ratify ERA-NC, Responsible for Equality and Liberty, Ross Co.-OH, San Francisco Dept. on the Status of Women, School Girls Unite!, Secular Woman, Washington Office, United 4 Equality LLC, United Methodist Women, UniteWomen.org, US Women’s Chamber of Commerce, VA (Arlington Co.) Commission for Women, We Are Woman, Women Rise Up Now, Women’s Campaign Fund, Women’s Democratic Club, Women’s Research and Education Institute, Women’s Suburban Dem. Club, Women’s Zionist Organization of America, Inc., Youth Activism Project, Inc., YWCA USA, and 9 to 5.


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