Representative Carolyn Maloney and Jackie Speier gathered feminist leaders and activists in front of the Supreme Court steps today to send a clear message: We need the Equal Rights Amendment, and we need it now!
Rep. Speier spoke out about Rosie the Riveter, an American icon who just so happened to receive equal pay. Right now, women on average make 77 cents to every dollar a man makes, with women of color suffering even worse from a larger disparity – a clear form of sex discrimination that has yet remained a persistent issue for women and families for decades. Legislation like the Equal Pay Act simply isn’t enough. We need an ERA to make sure that women are receiving equal pay for equal work – and that denying them such is a clear violation of the Constitution.
Rep. Maloney spoke about discrimination, too, though of a different sort – violence against women. Why is it survivors can’t find justice on campus, or in the military, or even in their own communities? Why is it that violence against women remains tolerated and accepted by our broader culture? The ERA would make rape and sexual assault constitutional violations, and would force folks to hold perpetrators accountable.
Other speakers included Feminist Majority President Eleanor Smeal, who has been fighting for the ERA since she was President of NOW, and Terry O’Neill, who led the crowd in a chant of “It’s Not OK!” Both feminist leaders spoke out about the Supreme Court’s recent rulings to strike down buffer zones and birth control coverage, weakening women’s reproductive rights. Justice Scalia recently said women are not protected from discrimination by the Constitution – and he’s right. That’s precisely why we need an ERA and need it now.
Activists young and old were in attendance today, despite some rain and the early start time of 9AM. As Terry O’Neill, Dr. Faye Williams, and women across generations spoke out for the ERA, one thing resonated: we will not wait any longer. It’s been 91 years since Alice Paul first began pushing what she then called “The Mott Amendment,” but it’s never too late to make history.