Washington, D.C. – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed Congresswoman Jackie Speier’s (D-CA) and Congressman Tom Reed’s (R-NY) H.J.Res.17 on a bipartisan vote of 222 to 204 to facilitate timely ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the U.S. Constitution. The joint resolution removes the arbitrary deadline to ratify the ERA, paving the way forward for adoption of this historic amendment and reaffirming Congress’ support for women’s equality. H.J.Res.17 is cosponsored by 213 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 strong message with its vote to pass my bipartisan resolution to facilitate the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. 222 Members, including our inimitable Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, took a stand against more than 200 years of sex discrimination and affirmed that there can be no expiration date on equality. Today, we once again made it clear that progress and justice cannot be stopped and that righteousness still prevails in our proud democracy,” said Congresswoman Jackie Speier, Co-Chair of the Democratic Women’s Caucus. “For those who still 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 more. Now is the time for the Archivist – acting under a new Administration dedicated to advancing equality and equity for all Americans – to certify the ERA and for our Constitution to finally recognize women’s equality under the law.”
“Men and women in this country should enjoy the same rights before the law. Congress must do its part to clearly affirm the basic rights of all women and ensure no one is subject to discrimination or mistreatment on the basis of sex,” said Congressman Tom Reed. “This isn’t an issue of politics – it’s an issue of fairness for all Americans.”
“In the forty years since Congress passed the Equal Rights Amendment, we have made great strides in this country to eradicate gender inequality. And yet, forty years later, our Constitution still fails to explicitly guarantee that no one can be denied equal protection of the laws on the basis of sex. With so much pernicious gender inequality in our society—the unfair wage gap, dangerous efforts to limit access to abortion and reproductive health care, pervasive sexual and domestic violence, and endemic pregnancy-based discrimination—the need to enshrine equality is clear,” said Congressman Jerrold Nadler (NY-10), Chairman of the Judiciary Committee. “Passing this resolution today is another critical step in the march toward justice, and I thank Reps. Speier and Reed for bringing us this much closer to full equality”
“Today, as we mark Women’s History Month, with the first woman and first Black and South Asian Vice President in the White House, and 100 years since the ERA was first written, we loudly declare that there is no deadline on equality,” said Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12), Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform. “By cementing gender equality in the Constitution — our nation’s foundational legal document, the ERA will send a clear message that we are committed to equality for all and allow us to build the equitable future we all deserve. It’s long past time we spell out equality in the Constitution – and you spell it E-R-A.”
“No matter the sacrifice or contribution to society, if you are a woman or a girl in the United States of America, you are not guaranteed equality under the law,” said Congresswoman Frankel (FL-21), Co-Chair of the Democratic Women’s Caucus. “After 245 years since the birth of our nation, it's time to pass the Equal Rights Amendment.”
“For far too long, women in the United States have faced sex discrimination in healthcare, employment, education, and many others parts of our society. I’m excited the House voted to pass the Equal Rights Amendment resolution today to remove this arbitrary time limit. We’re sending a strong message that equality does not have a deadline,” said Congresswoman Lawrence (MI-14), Co-Chair of the Democratic Women’s Caucus. “In our relentless fight against sex discrimination, today’s action puts us a step closer to ensuring the ERA becomes a part of our U.S. Constitution. We need to guarantee that women and men are treated equally under the law, and I strongly urge the Senate to pass this joint resolution.”
“I am proud to have voted to ensure the long overdue ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment, which will finally enshrine the principles of women’s equality into our Constitution,” said Congresswoman Veronica Escobar (TX-16), Vice Chair of the Democratic Women’s Caucus. “This vote honors the women – suffragist and outspoken activists – who have fought for generations for gender equality. The ERA builds on our progress to combat everyday discrimination against women and families in El Paso and across the country.”
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. The ERA has now been ratified by the 38 states needed for adoption to the U.S. Constitution.
HJ Res 17 is supported by women’s and equal rights organizations who have long championed action to ensure the ERA is adopted:
Carol Jenkins, CEO and President of the ERA Coalition/Fund for Women’s Equality: “The House’s quick, bipartisan passage of the time limit removal bill on the Equal Rights Amendment shows that women’s equality is a priority for this Congress, and that it should not have a time limit. We’re grateful to Representatives Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) and Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) for their co-sponsorship, and to Speaker Pelosi (D-Calif.) for her leadership in getting this through the House. We’re looking forward to our next step on the way to equality for all – passage in the Senate.”
Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority Foundation: “Today the US House voted that there is no time limit on equality. Feminists everywhere say thank-you Speaker Pelosi, Representatives Speier, Nadler, Reed, Maloney, Frankel, Lawrence and Escobar and the majority of Members who cast a vote today for women and girls across the county. Now we are one Senate floor vote away to adding the ERA into the Constitution so that our generation and all future generations will not face persistent sex discrimination and have new opportunities under the law”
Fatima Goss Graves, President and CEO of the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC): “After a year in which the impacts of the pandemic and recession have fallen most heavily on Black and brown women, it is more urgent than ever that we make the promise of gender equality a reality for all of us. It is long past time for our foundational document to express this commitment through the Equal Rights Amendment. We support lifting the deadline on ratification of the ERA because the fight for equality cannot wait. And we call upon lawmakers to continue the hard work of implementing policies that fight for equal rights for people of all genders, including tackling challenges from the persistence of unequal pay to access to reproductive health care to sexual harassment to LGBTQ discrimination to pregnancy discrimination.”
Ria Tabacco Mar, Director of the ACLU Women’s Rights Project: “The unfulfilled promise of the Equal Rights Amendment remains as urgent as it was in 1972. Today’s vote in the House of Representatives to lift 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, applaud the House for passing it, and urge swift action in the Senate.”
Erika Moritsugu, Vice President for Congressional Relations 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.”
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.”
Stephanie J. Hull, Ph.D., President and CEO of Girls Inc.: "Lifting the deadline for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment moves us one step closer to the promise of full equality for women and girls in this country. The majority of Americans support the ERA, and it's long past time for our laws to catch up. Girls Inc. applauds the House of Representatives for taking this step and calls on the Senate to follow suit."
Esta Soler, President and Founder, Futures Without Violence: “Over the last few years, and especially since the pandemic began, we’ve had painful reminders of the unfinished work to secure women’s rights and safety. Only the ERA will enshrine women’s equality in the constitution. We need that now and for the next generation.”
Deborah J. Vagins, President, National Network to End Domestic Violence: “With today’s House action on the Equal Rights Amendment, we are one step closer to enshrining it in our Constitution and making us a more perfect union for people of all genders. Domestic violence is the intentional pattern of abusive behavior to maintain power and control over another human being. When both parties are equal in our foundational documents and in the eyes of the law, we will be closer to justice for all survivors.”
Elisha Rhodes, Interim CEO at YWCA USA: “For over 160 years, YWCAs have been at the forefront of the most pressing social movements – from voting rights to civil rights, affordable housing to pay equity, violence prevention to ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. Today, that work is realized as the House moves us one step closer towards ratification of the ERA and the promise of equity 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.”
A copy of Rep. Speier’s joint resolution can be found here.