WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, for the first time in nearly four decades, the House Judiciary Committee is holding an official hearing on the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). This historic event is yet another example of the successful grassroots movement around the country that is demanding we finally institute a foundational statement on equality between the sexes in the U.S. Constitution.
The ERA, which was first introduced nearly 100 years ago, would be a strong prohibition against any government action that would discriminate on the basis of sex. Furthermore, it would encourage the adoption of other laws and policies that aim to end sex-based discrimination. There is abundant evidence that those in power often seek to pass laws or promote policies that disadvantage women. The ERA would be a powerful antidote to those abuses, particularly those aimed at immigrant women, women working in low-wage jobs, women of color, women with disabilities and the LGBTQIA community.
Just one more state is needed to finally ratify the ERA to the Constitution. The grassroots movement to have a constitutional guarantee of sex equality has persisted for nearly a century because women’s rights activists believe without that fundamental protection, our gains are constantly in jeopardy. These gains are based in legislation and executive policies that can be weakened or repealed at any time, as we’ve seen recently with so many reversals of women’s rights advances by conservative administrations and lawmakers.
NOW commends House Judiciary Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) for holding this hearing and the leadership of Reps. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) and Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.) in introducing legislation that would move the ERA ratification process forward, including removal of the 1972 extended deadline. Their leadership is helping advance the momentum for ratification that we are seeing around the country.
We were just one vote shy in Virginia last year and Arizona is up for the taking as well. And just last week, the Louisiana Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee passed an ERA resolution by a vote of 4-3. Other states discussing ratification include North Carolina, Missouri, and Florida. The momentum is there.
This is why NOW is working so hard with our state chapters to ratify the ERA. In 1967 we adopted a resolution of support for the ERA at NOW’s second conference, and ever since it has remained one of our top priorities. Our Constitution must have a strong ERA and the moment to bring that long-held dream to reality is now upon us.