Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Petaluma) delivered the following statement at a press conference marking the 40th anniversary of Congressional passage of the Equal Rights Amendment:
[As prepared for delivery]
"In the late 1960s, when the struggle to pass the Equal Rights Amendment was gathering momentum, I was a single mother with three small children unexpectedly entering the workforce. I had to lie about my marital status and claim I had a live-in housekeeper just to get a job. It wasn't easy -- I had to go on public assistance just to make ends meet. I could've used the ERA.
"I persevered and I thrived. And without question, we've made real progress as a society to remedy sexism and gender discrimination. But we haven't achieved equality yet. Not by a longshot.
"Not when women have to work the weekends to earn what a man makes Monday through Friday. Not when the professions that primarily employ women -- teachers, nurses, federal employees and others -- are under siege by Republican budgets. Not when reproductive freedom -- the right to affordable birth control! -- is under withering assault right here in the United States Congress, right now in the year 2012. Not when Rush Limbaugh can call a college student "a slut" for speaking out about women's health. And not when military rape remains one of the biggest threats facing women who are serving our country.
"In just about every area of public policy, we're regressing when it comes to women's rights. We've been at war for 10 years -- my grandson Teddy who's with me in Washington this week doesn't have any memory of our country NOT being at war. We're spending at least $10 billion a month on an immoral military occupation of Afghanistan. Imagine if we made just a fraction of that investment in our families, our children and our working women -- women who work outside the home and women whose primary job is raising their families.
"The bottom line is that the glass ceiling is still there and our march toward equality has a few miles to go. The other side of the aisle has tried to amend the Constitution in recent years to stop things like flag burning. I think it's a little more important that we protect the rights of 50 percent of the population. We needed the ERA in 1972; we need it today."