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Public Statements

Introduction of the Equal Rights Amendment

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mrs. CAROLYN B. MALONEY of New York. Mr. Speaker, it has been forty-one years since

Congress passed the Equal Rights Amendment (also known as the Women's Equality Amendment). This historic amendment was intended to affirm in our United States Constitution fundamental equality based on sex in all areas of society.

In 1972, Congress passed the ERA with a measure that it had to be ratified by the necessary number of states (38) within 7 years. Though this deadline was extended, it was only for 10 short years. With this narrow time limit, the ERA was unfortunately just three states shy of full ratification when the deadline passed in 1982. Other constitutional amendments were given much wider deadlines for ratification. One example is the 27th amendment, concerning Congressional pay raises, which was accepted after a 203 year ratification period.

This Congress I intend to finally add the word ``women'' to the constitution. It is time for our nation to understand the necessity of equality for women based on the way it has been deprived of them. While we have made cracks in the glass ceiling many times before, we have yet to shatter it. I believe that this amendment provides that recognition to women without taking equality rights away from others.

Over the past several decades, legislative efforts have increased women's rights--but these strides toward achieving equality are not irreversible. Without the ERA, women have often been denied the ability to seek justice when they have experienced discrimination. Though certain court decisions, such as the Supreme Court decision in the Virginia Military Institute case (Virginia v. United States), helped to clarify that gender cannot be used to keep women from achieving social, legal and economic gains, important decisions like this can also be overturned. In addition, laws can still perpetuate gender classifications that keep women from achieving their full potential. Passage of the ERA would provide a Constitutional affirmation of the Supreme Court decision.

Our democracy rests on the principle of ``liberty and justice for all.'' We need the ERA to ensure that this concept applies equally to all.
I am pleased to introduce this bill with ninety-three of my bipartisan colleagues, Representatives Cynthia Lummis, Rodney Frelinghuysen, Jerrold Nadler, Karen Bass, Joyce Beatty, Xavier Becerra, Sanford Bishop, Timothy Bishop, Earl Blumenauer, Corrine Brown, G.K. Butterfield, Lois Capps, Michael Capuano, Tony Cárdenas, Kathy Castor, David Cicilline, Yvette Clarke, Wm. Lacy Clay, James Clyburn, Steve Cohen, James Cooper, James Costa, Joseph Courtney, Joseph Crowley, Elijah Cummings, Daniel Davis, Susan Davis, Peter DeFazio, Diana DeGette, Charlie Dent, John Dingell, Tammy Duckworth, Keith Ellison, Sam Farr, Chaka Fattah, William Foster, Marcia Fudge, Tusli Gabbard, John Garamendi, Alan Grayson, Al Green, Raul Grijalva, Michelle Lujan Grisham, Louis Gutiérrez, Brian Higgins, James Himes, Rubén Hinojosa, Steve Israel, Sheila Jackson Lee, Hakeem Jeffries, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Henry ``Hank'' Johnson, Marcy Kaptur, William Keating, Joseph Kennedy, Daniel Kildee, Barbara Lee, Sander Levin, John Lewis, David Loesback, Zoe Lofgren, Stephen Lynch, Betty McCollum, James McDermott, James McGovern, Grace Meng, Gwen Moore, Grace Napolitano, William Pascrell, Edward Perlmutter, Chellie Pingree, Michael Quigley, Charles Rangel, Raul Ruiz, Timothy Ryan, Linda Sánchez, Scott Davis, Terri Sewell, Carol Shea-Potter, Brad Sherman, Louise Slaughter, Bennie Thompson, Dina Titus, Paul Tonko, Niki Tsongas, Christopher Van Hollen, Nydia Velázquez, Maxine Waters, Melvin Watt, Henry Waxman, Peter Welch, and Frederica Wilson. I urge my fellow Members of Congress to join in support.


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