Rep. Speier, Actor Patricia Arquette, Women's Rights Leaders rally hundreds to ratify the ERA

Breakfast reception draws more than 300 men and women to the Capitol in the fight for women's rights

January 21, 2017

Washington, DC - Congresswoman Jackie Speier (CA-14) today hosted a breakfast reception at the U.S. Capitol mobilizing hundreds of women, many of whom are from California’s 14th Congressional District, in the fight to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) in 2017 and to make women’s rights a priority in the 115th Congress.

Joining her and the more than 300 attendees were several notable leaders within the women’s rights and civil rights movements. The speakers included Patricia Arquette, Academy Award-winning Actor and Women’s Rights Activist; Ellie Smeal, President & Co-Founder, Feminist Majority Foundation; Dr. E. Faye Williams, Esq., President & CEO, National Congress of Black Women; Mahroh Jahangiri, Executive Director, Know Your IX; and Ret. Col. Don Christensen, Former Air Force Chief Prosecutor and President of Protect Our Defenders.

“It was incredible to stand today with hundreds of women, and men, united in the fight for true equality for all Americans. It was also an honor to have so many distinguished women’s and civil rights leaders share in this galvanizing moment, showing that we will not stop until the ERA is ratified and women’s rights are recognized in the Constitution,” said Rep. Speier. “Today we made clear to the Republicans in Congress and to the new President Donald Trump that women will not go back to being treated as chattel and second-class citizens. We will not stand by and allow the rights which we’ve spent a century working for to be rolled back. We will never stop fighting for equal pay for equal work, particularly for women of color and aging women; the full range of health care, including reproductive care and birth control; paid family leave; and the support needed to enforce all laws against sexual violence or harassment.”

Comments from the event speakers are listed below.

Patricia Arquette said, “Jackie Speier is one of the strongest advocates for women’s rights in American politics today. I look forward to supporting the efforts of the Congresswoman to finally make the ERA a reality, and her legislative agenda to make equality for women a priority in the 115th Congress.”

Dr. Ellie Smeal said, “As the election of 2016 demonstrated, misogyny is all too alive and well in the U.S. We need the ERA to fight the gender income gap, to give strength to laws protecting women from violence, and to end sex discrimination once and for all on the job, in our paychecks and economic benefits, in our schools, and in the institutions and programs of our nation.”

Dr. E. Faye Williams, Esq. said,A woman can no more be partly equal than she can be partly pregnant. If our Constitution does not provide us with the basic rights that men have simply because they are citizens of our nation, then women are not enjoying equality of rights or opportunities. We must and we shall change that, and now is the time to do so.”

Mahroh Jahangiri said, “Gender violence continues to impede the ability of millions of young people, especially those who are women of color and LGBTQ, to succeed in school. It is critical that we organize to end this injustice, which is why I am proud to join with Congresswoman Speier in making women’s rights a priority in the 115th Congress. We must stand together to address sex discrimination in all of its violent forms.”

Ret. Col. Don Christensen said, “Every year 1-in-20 women serving in the military are sexually assaulted. For women serving in a combat zone, the number rises to 1-in-4. In total, there are an estimated 20,000 sexual assaults of active duty military members, yet only about 250 offenders are ever held accountable. Sadly, military women are 12 times more likely to suffer retaliation than to see their offender convicted. This why I am committed to working with Congresswoman Speier to address sexual violence in the military, an important component of women’s rights that must be addressed in the 115th Congress."