Bipartisan resolutions make women’s Constitutional equality a top priority in new Congress; create a pathway for ratification of the ERA after nearly 100 year struggle
January 21, 2021 (Washington, D.C.) — The ERA (Equal Rights Amendment) Coalition expressed its enthusiastic support for U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) as they announced Thursday that the first bipartisan legislation they will introduce for the 117th Congress is their joint resolution to remove the deadline to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. The ERA Coalition is also excited to announce that Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) and Congressman Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) introduced their legislation today with 195 cosponsors. First proposed in 1923, the ERA would ensure that the Constitution promotes equality and prohibits discrimination on the account of sex.
Carol Jenkins, president and CEO of the ERA Coalition, said: “This is a historic and monumental step forward for all 94 percent of Americans who agree that women should have equal rights in our Constitution. In a time of deep division, here is something we all agree on: there can be no time limit on equality.”
“We thank Senators Cardin and Murkowski and Reps. Speier and Reed for their bipartisan leadership and tireless commitment to equality. Against a backdrop of national turmoil and pain, today shows that progress is still possible, and the ERA is a great unifying opportunity to secure a more equal future for everyone,” added Jenkins, whose leadership of the ERA Coalition has centered the perspectives and participation those whose lives are most impacted by systemic inequities, including Black, Indigenous and Women of Color, gender-nonconforming and transgender women and girls, and nonbinary people.
In January 2020, Virginia voted to become the 38th state to ratify the ERA. With that ratification, the ERA has now satisfied all the requirements set forth in the Constitution. However, a seven-year time limit for ratification with a three year extension was arbitrarily inserted by Congress when it proposed the ERA back in 1972. Congress holds the power to remove this time limit altogether by voting in support of the joint resolutions proposed today.
Kimberly Peeler-Allen, board chair of the ERA Coalition, said: “All across the country, from community coalitions to corporate boardrooms, momentum for the ERA is rising. This bipartisan milestone heralds a historic moment for the nation to come together in favor of a more just and equal future for all of our children—and for generations to come. We invite everyone to join us in supporting this historic step forward for full Constitutional equality.”
“There should be no time limit on equality. Even as we celebrate America’s first female Vice President, our nation is held back as the only modern constitution that fails to enshrine full equality for both men and women. This is unacceptable,” said Senator Cardin. “Most Americans are surprised to learn that the ERA is not already part of the U.S. Constitution. The states have done their job to make this happen. Now Congress must finally do its job and remove any legal obstacles to certifying the ERA.”
“As we begin a new Congress, I can think of no better legislation to lead with than one that removes impediments to final ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment—an amendment that firmly embeds in law equality between men and women. We first moved the ERA through Congress back in 1972, but we stalled out on certification by the states until last year when Virginia ratified the ERA. After years of work alongside Senator Cardin, I urge my colleagues to join us in ensuring equality for all,” said Senator Murkowski.
Bettina Hager, ERA Coalition DC Director said: “The ERA holds enormous power to move gender equality from an aspiration to a lived reality. That is why a growing chorus of changemakers are championing the ERA as the legal foundation we need to drive—and protect—progress across so many issues that impact women’s lives, from closing the equal pay gap to ending gender-based violence and workplace discrimination.”
“We care about ensuring every individual in our great nation, regardless of gender, has the opportunity to enjoy the same basic rights before the law. For survivors of sexual violence, pregnancy discrimination, or unequal pay, the ratification of the ERA will be a critical step towards equal justice,” said Rep. Tom Reed. “This isn’t an issue of politics – it’s an issue of fairness for all Americans. Congress must press forward and end any unnecessary barriers to the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.”
“With President Biden and Vice President Harris at the helm, this will finally be the year we ratify the ERA to the Constitution. It’s taken nearly 100 years to get here and there’s nothing holding us back now; progress and justice cannot be stopped,” said Rep. Jackie Speier, Co-Chair of the Democratic Women’s Caucus. “Since our country’s founding, women have been left out of the Constitution – intentionally. We were second-class citizens deprived of basic rights to vote, enter most jobs, or own property. To this day, we are paid less for our work, violated with impunity, and disproportionately suffer the burden of the COVID-19 pandemic. Enough is enough. The ERA must immediately be added to our Constitution so that we may finally achieve those eternal words etched atop the marble edifice of the Supreme Court: ‘Equal Justice Under Law’.”
About the ERA Coalition
The ERA Coalition was founded in 2014 to bring concerted, organized action to the effort to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. The ERA Coalition has a sister organization, the Fund for Women’s Equality, which promotes public education and outreach on the need for constitutional equality. Comprised of more than one hundred organizations across the country, the Coalition provides education and advocacy on Constitutional Equality.
While the effort to amend the constitution to include sex equality began nearly a century ago, our renewed efforts are centered on Black, Indigenous and Women of Color, gender-nonconforming and transgender women and girls, and nonbinary people– those who are most impacted by systemic inequities.