Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) today reintroduced the Equal Rights Amendment at an event just outside the Capitol.
"The Equal Rights Amendment is still needed because the only way for women to achieve permanent equality in the U.S. is to write it into the constitution," Rep. Maloney said. "While it's been thrilling to see how far women have come in my lifetime, laws can change, government regulations can be weakened, and judicial opinions can shift. Making women's equality a constitutional right--after Congress passes and 38 states ratify the ERA--would place the United States on record, albeit more than 200 years late, that women are fully equal in the eyes of the law."
"The WalMart case decided by the Supreme Court this week is a classic example of how far attitudes must still come. The facts of the case support the view that over a million women were systematically denied equal pay by the world's largest employer," Maloney said. "While the ERA would apply only to government action, its effect would be sweeping, historic--and long overdue."
"It is a disgrace that American women are still not constitutionally guaranteed equal rights under the law," said Sen. Menendez. "Women have made tremendous advancements in our society, but we must continue to advance women's rights by bringing our laws in line with 21st Century values."
"I have fought for equal rights my entire adult life, and as the father of three daughters, I consider it a travesty that our great country doesn't constitutionally declare the equality of men and women," Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) said. "We say we believe in equality, and yet the facts don't bear that out. After nearly a century of fighting for the Equal Rights Amendment, the time has come to ratify this important American ideal."
The House bill has 159 original cosponsors, including Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI), Chair of the Congressional Women's Caucus, who also attended, saying, "How many times do we need to be reminded that women's rights are at the mercy of the Supreme Court? It's time once and for all to tell American women that regardless of their biology they have equal rights under the Constitution."
"In the year 2011, it is truly an embarrassment for our nation that we still do not have gender equality enshrined in our Constitution," said Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY). "This profound omission undermines our standing as a nation committed to freedom and equality for all. It is a matter of simple justice and our leadership in the world that we move quickly to rectify this defect. I am proud to once again join my friend and colleague, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, as she reintroduces the Equal Rights Amendment, which would provide a clear and unequivocal statement guaranteeing equal rights for women."
"Women and men deserve and need full equal rights. Without constitutional equality, too many women, and thereby too many families, are cheated," said Ellie Smeal, founder of the Feminist Majority. "Americans overwhelmingly support constitutional equality. It is time-- in fact, it's long overdue-- for us to move forward. That's why the Feminist Majority and other women's organizations are this year going to score cosponsorhip of the ERA as a "yes" vote-- failure to co-sponsor this bill will be recorded as a vote against women's constitutional equality. It's as simple as that-- do you value women as full equal citizens under the law, or not?"
The ERA was first introduced in 1923 as the "Lucretia Mott Amendment" at the celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the 1848 Seneca Falls "Declaration of Sentiments," considered the founding of the women's rights movement in the U.S. The ERA came closest to ratification in the 1970's, when 35 states approved it, falling just three states short of the two-thirds necessary for ratification.