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Patricia Arquette and Alyssa Milano Join Advocates, Congressional Leaders in Call for ERA

April 30, 2019
Press Release

Washington, D.C. –  Following the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties hearing on the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), the first Congressional hearing on the ERA in 36 years, Reps. Jackie Speier (D-CA), Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), Tom Reed (R-NY), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee; and Steve Cohen (D-TN), Chair of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties; and Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) joined with Academy Award winning Actor and Activist Patricia Arquette, Award winning Actor and Activist Alyssa Milano, and ERA advocates to call for the amendment’s ratification.

“Women and men made history today by demanding equality and justice at the first congressional hearing to ratify the ERA in 36 years,” said Rep. Jackie Speier. “This is personal for me. It should be personal for everyone who cares about achieving equal justice under law. The United States has the oldest written Constitution yet we’re among a handful of industrialized nations that have not enshrined protection for women against discrimination. My joint resolution to eliminate the arbitrary deadline dictated by Congress in the preamble of the original constitutional amendment would finally right that wrong. I stand with my colleagues in the House and Senate, advocates, and activists who have been fighting their entire lives for this just cause. We won’t rest until the ERA becomes reality.”

“The drumbeat for the ERA is louder than ever before. Women are marching, protesting, running for office – and getting elected – in record numbers. The #MeToo and Time’s Up movements have shined a light on the discrimination that persists in this country. And it is up to us to harness the energy of these movements to break through the final barrier to finally ratify the ERA,” said Rep. Maloney. “Our rights cannot be subject to the political whims of legislators, judges, or occupants of the White House who do not see women as equal citizens. We will not quit until women are in the Constitution, where we belong. Women are not waiting any longer. We demand full equality now. We demand that it be spelled out in the Constitution. And you know how you spell it? E-R-A.”

“Today’s hearing – the first congressional hearing on the ERA in 36 years – was a critical first step toward ratifying the ERA once and for all,” said House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler. “Women must have the same consistent, guaranteed rights in this country granted to men without question. I remain committed to seeing the ERA ratified and fighting side-by-side with advocates across the country to achieve that goal.”

“Equal rights for women should be a bedrock principle,” said Rep. Cohen. “It is important to put these issues front and center and assure all Americans their rights will be upheld.”

“Today marks an important day in our nation’s history with the first congressional hearing on the Equal Rights Amendment in 36 years,” said Rep. Reed. “As the youngest of 12 – including 8 older sisters – raised by a single mother after my dad passed away when I was two, I learned early on the strength and power that women possess. We will continue our bipartisan campaign to ensure this historic amendment has a fair shot at being enshrined into our constitution – not only for the thousands of women who have been discriminated against, but for the next generation of women.”

“Nearly 100 years after women fought for and earned the right to vote, most Americans are shocked to realize that the U.S. Constitution does not already guarantee women the same rights and protections as men,” said Sen. Cardin. “It’s long past time for us to correct this injustice and recognize the full equality of women under the law. Congress should take the next step by immediately removing the ratification deadline for the ERA.”

“Over the past two years, the Trump Administration has ignored the gender wage gap, tried to block access to affordable, quality reproductive health care and appointed right-wing judges, groomed by conservative think tanks, who’ll seek to rollback time,” said Sen. Menendez. “The Equal Rights Amendment was first passed nearly 50 years ago, and while we’ve made great strides in building a more equal and just society, we now find ourselves having to fight the same old battles to keep the clock from turning back. Now more than ever, we must formally codify in the U.S. Constitution that women are entitled full equality under the law, and I won’t stop fighting until that day comes.”

“We are so glad to have had this hearing, after 36 years. We hope it will be followed quickly by the removal of the Congressional deadline," said Jessica Neuwirth, Founder and Co-President of the ERA Coalition. "This will clear the path for the Equal Rights Amendment.”

“This gives us a chance to rectify a centuries old exclusion from equal rights in our Constitution," said Carol Jenkins, Co-President and CEO of the ERA Coalition. "While the original drafters may not have foreseen the possibility of an equal future for girls and boys, women and me, they did give us a way to make amends for the document's shortcomings. It's time to add the Equal Rights Amendment.”

“The ERA will build a wall – a wall that will actually do something—against the never-ending assault on women’s rights from current or future Presidents,” said Alyssa Milano. “Ratification will make sure that all people, no matter where we fall on the spectrum of gender identity, will have sovereignty over our own bodies at home and in the doctor’s office, and it will change the face of business as companies enact recruitment, retention, and advancement programs that ensure a woman’s path to the executive suite doesn’t stop at ‘executive assistant.’” 

“Just because women didn’t achieve full equality in America in 1787 or by 1982 doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have it today,” said Patricia Arquette, who testified at today’s hearing. “There is a groundswell in this country. Women are being elected in record numbers. Women are rising up by the millions and saying they will not be sexually assaulted. They will not be paid less. They will not be treated as subhuman and their voices will be heard. I hope by now we are all ready to make women’s equality a bedrock American value by enshrining it in the U.S. Constitution. I hope we are ready for our mothers, daughters, sisters, and friends to have full equal rights.”

“Our Nation has always led and inspired the written constitutions of the world, but we lag woefully behind all other major industrial democracies in failing to have an ERA in our constitution,” said Kathleen Sullivan, Partner at Quinn Emanuel Urquart & Sullivan and witness at today’s hearing. “With ratification by one more state, we may once and for all end this national embarrassment and enshrine the equality of men and women in our foundational document.”

“We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to enshrine women’s equality in get United States Constitution. As one of the first women to graduate from the Virginia Military Institute, I personally know how important it is to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment," said VA Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy. It’s time to be on the right side of history.”

“We should all ask ourselves in this moment - how long must we wait for women and girls to be included in the Constitution? If you believe and stand with women, you will vote for women. No more lip service, no more empty promises, no more 'I respect you by shaking your hand,'" said VA Del. Ayala "Respect will be shown when we gain equality in the Constitution. As elected officials we have a moral obligation to listen to our constituents and let their voices be heard and now is not the moment to shy away from correcting the historical exclusion of women and girls from our Constitution. Now is the time to stand up, and speak out.”

“Without the ERA, women have been forced to fight against gender discrimination one law and one court case at a time," said Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority. "Far too often, we see those hard-fought gains rolled back by new anti-woman legislatures and judicial rulings. The time is now to permanently and Constitutionally prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex.”

“As evidenced by this historic hearing, momentum is growing to finally ratify the Equal Rights Amendment,” said National Organization for Women President Toni Van Pelt. “For more than 50 years NOW has mounted countless actions to protect the equal rights of women and girls in the Constitution and we are excited to begin this final march towards ratification.”

“Equal rights for women just seems to be a no brainer, but I guess we've been guilty of asking rather than demanding for too long!" said Dr. E. Faye Williams, National Chair of the National Congress of Black Women Maybe somebody just got the notice from Cecile Richards that women are now the SuperMajority!”

“The US Constitution is an outlier globally - women in this country are still not equally protected under the law," said Shelby Quast, Americas Director, Equality Now. There is a growing movement to have an Equal Rights Amendment and we call on Congress to urgently clear the path for ERA and remove any and all potential barriers.”

“Women in the United States have waited long enough for the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) and constitutional equality with men," said Kimberly Churches, CEO at the American Association of University Women (AAUW). "AAUW thanks Representative Maloney for her years of outspoken leadership and dedication to fighting for this issue. We look forward to working with Members on both sides of the aisle to ensure a path towards ratifying the ERA.”

BACKGROUND

Congresswoman Speier is the House sponsor of H.J. Res. 38, the ERA joint resolution to remove the arbitrary deadline to ratify that was included in the preamble of the original constitutional amendment in 1972. The United States is just one state shy of meeting the three-fourths threshold set by Congress for ratification of the ERA. Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) have introduced the Senate companion joint resolution, S.J. Res. 6, that also would immediately remove the ratification deadline and revive the consideration of the ERA. The Senate resolution had 36 cosponsors in the 115th Congress and has growing bipartisan support today.

Congresswoman Maloney is the House sponsor of the ERA, H.J.Res.35, that would restart the amendment ratification process and hosted a “shadow hearing” with the ERA Coalition last June to give advocates a platform to share with Members of Congress why an ERA is needed. At this hearing, Chairman Nadler said that in the event that the Democrats became the House Majority, the Committee would hold a hearing on the ERA. Congressman Tom Reed (R-NY) is the lead Republican on H.J.Res. 35. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) is the Senate sponsor of S.J.Res.15, the Senate resolution to restart the amendment ratification process.

 

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