Cardin, Murkowski, Pressley and Colleagues Unveil Resolution Affirming Ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment
With the 38-state threshold for ratification met, resolution takes critical step toward enshrining gender equality in Constitution
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (Mass.-7), along with Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), and Congresswomen Sylvia Garcia (Texas-29), Abigail Spanberger (Va.-07), Cori Bush (Mo.-1), Madeleine Dean (Pa.-4) and Sydney Kamlager-Dove (Calif.-37) announced today the introduction of a bicameral, joint resolution to affirm the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) and take a critical step toward enshrining equality for women in the United States Constitution. The lawmakers’ resolution removes the arbitrary deadline for ratification of the ERA and recognizes the amendment as a valid part of the Constitution, with the 38-state threshold needed for ratification of the ERA having been met.
Cardin and Pressley and colleagues joined advocates at a Capitol Hill press conference Tuesday to unveil the updated resolution, S.J.Res. 4 / H.J. Res. #, which reads:
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That notwithstanding any time limit contained in House Joint Resolution 208, 92nd Congress, as agreed to in the Senate on March 22, 1972, the article of amendment proposed to the States in that joint resolution is valid to all intents and purposes as part of the Constitution, having been ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States.
“There should be no time limit on equality. Ratification of the 28th amendment is complete. Most Americans already think it is a part of the Constitution. Congress needs to finish its job,” said Senator Cardin. “I’m proud to work with the ERA Coalition, Senator Murkowski, Congresswoman Pressley, and all our colleagues on finally enshrining the ERA into the Constitution and advancing true legal equality on the basis of sex.”
“Despite significant gains for women’s equality, the U.S. Constitution does not guarantee women the same legal rights as men,” said Senator Murkowski. “This resolution, which I’ve long-supported with my colleague Senator Cardin, removes the deadline for ratification and clears an obstacle that has prevented the Equal Rights Amendment from being added to the Constitution in the past. Alaska recognizes that women’s equality is fundamental—having both ratified the ERA and amended the State Constitution to prohibit discrimination in 1972, the year the ERA originally passed Congress. It’s time for the entire the nation to follow suit. Men and women should be treated equally under the law. It’s as simple as that.”
“Women have done the work of preserving and defending our democracy for centuries, and it’s high time our laws recognize our contributions and the historic role that we have played,” said Rep. Pressley. “It also is not lost on me that the first time the ERA was put forward, women of color were not part of the conversation – today we’re leading and working in coalition to advance this priority. Our resolution will help address centuries of gender disparities in America by removing the unnecessary barriers that have prevented us from enshrining the dignity, humanity, and equality of all people into our Constitution. We as women have done our job, the states have done their job, and now it’s time for Congress to do its job and pass this resolution.”
“It is long past time to explicitly prohibit discrimination based on sex in our Constitution. It would send an important and overdue message to women and girls that they are equal under the law,” Senator Durbin said. “Let’s come together on a bipartisan basis, repeal this deadline, and finally make the Equal Rights Amendment the law of the land by passing this joint resolution.”
“The fight to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment within the halls of Congress began nearly one century ago, and we can’t stop the fight until it is formally published in our U.S. Constitution. This long-fought battle has a special connection to my home state of Hawaii—Hawaii was the first state to ratify the ERA,” said Senator Hirono. “Our next generation of all women, including transgender women and gender non-conforming individuals, deserve better. We cannot wait any longer to formalize the ERA.”
In addition to Cardin, Murkowski, Durbin and Hirono, S. J. Res. 4 is so far cosponsored by Senators Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Angus King (I-Vt.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Bernie Sanders (I-V.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Gary Peters (D-Ind.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), Ben Lujan (D-N.M.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.).
“As a young college student, I visited the Texas State Legislature to fight for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. Here we are, years later, and we are still fighting for our rights,” said Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia. “Today, I join my colleagues to reaffirm that support. Women are behind some of the nation’s most outstanding achievements. We have forged our paths in history – yet we’re still not equal to men under the eyes of the law. We must eliminate the arbitrary deadline for ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment, so we can finally prohibit discrimination under the Constitution. I will continue to fight for every little girl in this country who will one day live in an America that will embrace her full humanity and guarantee full equality.”
The Equal Rights Amendment was first introduced 100 years ago to codify gender equality. Since 1923, the constitutional amendment was introduced in every session of Congress until it passed in 1972 in both the House and Senate. Congress then placed an arbitrary seven-year deadline on the ratification process before extending the deadline to 1982, but only 35 ratified the ERA before the arbitrary deadline. However, with the recent ratifications of the ERA by Nevada in 2017, Illinois in 2018 and Virginia in 2020, the 38 states needed for certification of the ERA to be become the 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution has now been reached.
Ratifying the ERA, which states, “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State on account of sex”, would affirm women’s equality in our Constitution, enshrining the principle of women’s equality and an explicit prohibition against sex discrimination in the nation’s foundational document.
As the 28th Amendment, the ERA would serve as a new tool - for Congress, for federal agencies, and in the courts - to advance equality in the fields of workforce and pay, pregnancy discrimination, sexual harassment and violence, reproductive autonomy, and protections for LGBTQ+ individuals. Enshrining this protection in our Constitution also ensures enduring protections for all Americans across the country.
It would also signal to the courts that they should apply a more rigorous level of review to laws and government policies that discriminate on the basis of sex, making it more likely for them to be struck down.
“This year marks 100 years since the Equal Rights Amendment was first introduced in Congress, and we’re done asking for permission to be treated equally under the law,” said Zakiya Thomas, President and CEO of the ERA Coalition and Fund for Women’s Equality. “We’re grateful for the leadership of Congresswoman Pressley in the House and Senators Cardin and Murkowski in the Senate. The language of the new resolutions announced today will finally affirm what we all know to be true - that the Equal Rights Amendment has fulfilled the requirements set forth in Article V of the Constitution and is fully valid. Treating women and LGBTQ+ people as second class citizens will no longer be tolerated in this country, full stop.”
“Five generations of feminists have fought to pass the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to declare, once and for all, that denial of rights under the law on the account of sex is unconstitutional,” said Eleanor Smeal, Co-Founder and President of the Feminist Majority. “The message from women voters, especially young women, is loud and clear in polls and, most importantly in their votes. Overwhelming support for the ERA is soaring among women of all ages but even more so by young women.”
“Since our founding over 50 years ago, Mass NOW has worked side by side with NOW chapters across the country to fight for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment,” said Sasha Goodfried, Executive Director of Mass NOW. “We enthusiastically support this bicameral joint resolution to remove the deadline for the ratification of the ERA and are committed to building upon the work of generations of feminists in fighting for full constitutional equity."
The lawmakers’ resolution is endorsed by nearly 300 grassroots and national organizations, including: 9 to 5, A Better Balance, A Call to Men, A Phillip Randolph Institute, AFL-CIO, Academy of Forensic Nursing, Activism Caucus, Association for Women in Psychology, ADA Expertise Consulting, LLC, Advance Native Political Leadership, African American Policy Forum, Alice Paul. Alliance for Justice, American Association of University Women (AAUW), American Ethical Union, American Family Voices, American Federation of Teachers, American Humanist Association, American Medical Women’s Association, Arkansas Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, Athena Society, Athlete Ally, Baltimore NOW (National Organization for Women), BETTY Effect, Black Girl Magic Network, Black Girls Vote, Black Women’s Agenda Inc., Black Women’s Roundtable, By the Women for the Women Vote 2021, CAL FIRE, California Partnership to End Domestic Violence, California Women’s Law Center, Catapult, Catholics for Choice, CCSWG, Center for Common Ground, Center for Popular Democracy, Center for Reproductive Rights, Charlottesville NOW, Church Women United, Inc., City Harvest, Civic Influencers, ClearingHouse on Women’s Issues, Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, Coalition of Labor Union Women, Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women, Code Red: Youth of the Nation, Color of Change, Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Corazones Unidos Siempre Chi Upsilon Sigma National Latin Sorority, Inc, Custody Peace, Deeds Not Words, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Democratic Women’s Club of Worcester County, MD, Democrats Abroad, Dia de los Muertos DC, Dolores Huerta Foundation, DWC, End Rape on Campus, Enough Z Enough, Enterprising and Professional Women-NYC, Equal Means Equal, Equal Means ERA South Carolina, Equal Rights Advocates, Equal Rights Maine, Equality Fund, Equality Now, Equality Utah, ERA Action, ERA Education Project, ERA Illinois, ERA NC Alliance, ERA Now, ERA Now: Delaware, ERA Once and For All, ERA ReEvolution, ERA Task Force AZ, ERAMN, Esler Family Foundation, Fairfax County Commission for Women, Federally Employed Women, Feminist Majority, Florida NOW, Futures Without Violence, Gender Equality Law Center, General Federation of Women’s Club, GenERAtion Ratify, Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda, Girls for Gender Equality, Girls That Create, Glaad, Global Fund for Women, Global G.L.O.W., Global Rights for Women, Greater Washington Area Chapter, Women Lawyers Division, National Bar Association (GWAC), Gyrl Wonder, Inc., Hadassah, HALE o Hawai’i, Hip Hop Caucus, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, IGNITE, Illinois NOW, In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda, Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Indiana Federation of Democratic Women, Indianapolis NOW, Indivisible Worcester Maryland, Indrani’s Light Foundation, Iowa NOW, IPAS, Japanese American Citizens League, Jewish Women International, Justice for Migrant Women, Justice in Aging, Justice Revival, Katrina’s Dream, Keshet, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, Latin American Studies Association, Latino Economic Development Center, Leading Women of Tomorrow, League of Women Voters, League of Women Voters of Dare County, League of Women Voters of North Carolina, League of Women Voters of the Morristown Area, League of Women Voters of Virginia, Legal Momentum, Let’s Breakthrough, Inc., Links, Incorporated, LPAC, MADRE, MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund), MANA, A National Latina Organization, Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence, Maryland NOW, Maryland Women’s Heritage Center and Museum, Matthew Shepard Foundation, Michigan Women Forward, Mid-Day Women’s Alliance, Military Rape Crisis Center, Minnesota NOW, Monroe County NOW, Montana NOW, Montgomery County Commission for Women, Montgomery County, MD, Chapter, National Organization for Women, Mormons for the ERA, Mothers of Lost Children, Move On, Ms. Foundation for Women, Ms. Magazine, Muslims for Progressive Values, NA’AMAT USA, Natalie White for Equal Rights, National Action Network, National Alliance to End Sexual Violence, National Association of Commissions for Women (NACW), National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities, National Association of Hispanic Journalists, National Association of Social Workers, National Association of Women Lawyers, National Birth Equity Collaborative, National Black Caucus of State Legislators,National Black Justice Coalition, National Center for Transgender Equality, National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc., Prince William County Chapter, National Congress of Black Women, National Council of Jewish Women, National Council of Women of the United States, National Equal Rights Amendment Alliance, National Federation of Democratic Women, National LGBTQ Task Force, National Organization for Women – Columbia, SC, National Organization for Women (NOW), National Organization of Black Elected Legislative Women, National Urban League, National Woman’s Party, National Women’s Health Network, National Women’s Political Caucus (NWPC), Nevada NOW, New American Leaders, NFBPW, NNEDV, North American Indian Center of Boston, North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCCADV), North Star Project, Northern New Jersey NOW, Ohio Business and Professional Women, Ohio NOW, Oklahoma Women’s Coalition, One Colorado, Oregon NOW, Peace Over Violence, Period Equity, Physicians for Reproductive Health, Platform, Pride at Work, Project 28, Providence Student Union, re:gender, RepresentWomen, Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Sanctuary for Families, Secular Women, SEIU, SEIU Virginia 512, Service Women’s Action Network, Shattering Glass, She the People, Sisters Lead Sisters Vote, Sociedad Latina, Society for Women’s Health Research, Sojourners, Somerset County Federation of Democratic Women, South Asian Youth Action, South Jersey NOW-Alice Paul chapter, Strike for America, Strike for Our Rights, Suffrage Centennial Celebration Committee of Worcester Co MD, Suffrage Centennials, Supermajority, Texas Impact, The 4th Branch, The Feminist Front, The Human Rights Effort, The National Council of Negro Women (NCNW), The Ruth Project, Third Wave Fund, TransLatin@ Coalition, U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce, UAW Women’s Department, Ujima Community, Unite Women Org, United Democratic Women, United Methodist Women, United Mine Workers of America, United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Universal Access Productions / Arizona Theatre Matters, URGE: Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity, Utah Era Coalition, V-Day, VA Ratify ERA, Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, Veteran Feminists of America, Violence Free Minnesota, Virginia NOW, Virginia Poverty Law Center, Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance, Vote Equality, Vote ERA org, Vote Forward, Vote Mama, Vote Run Lead, VoteEqualityND, Voto Latino, We Are Woman, Well Woman Life, Will County NOW, Winston & Strawn, Women Creating Change, Women Donors Network, Women Employed, Women for Afghan Women, Women Lawyers in Bergen, Women of Color in STEM at Maryville University, Women-Matter.org, Women’s Equality Day Celebration Across Maryland, Women’s Law Project, Women’s March, Women’s Media Center, Women’s Voices Media, Women’s Bar Association of Massachusetts, Women’s Business Development Center, Women’s Center for Ethics in Action, Women’s eNews, Women’s Environment and Development Organization, Women’s Equity Center and Action Network, WomenSphere, YWCA, YWCA-Central Carolinas, Zonta Foothills Club of Boulder County;
Text of the resolution is available here.
To watch the lawmakers’ press conference unveiling the resolution, click here.