Attorneys, State Lawmakers, and Actors/Advocates among Witnesses

Washington, D.C. — High-profile women’s rights advocates and feminists are gathering in Washington, D.C. today for the first Congressional hearing on the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) in over three decades.

The ERA is a proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution which would specifically ban discrimination on the basis of sex.

“Today marks an historic turning point in the fight to ratify the ERA,” said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority. “Our nation’s most fundamental rights are enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, which should include equal rights for women. Without the ERA, hard-won statutory gains remain vulnerable to erosion by the U.S. government—Congressional, Executive, and Judicial. The Feminist Majority and our partner organizations have been at the forefront of this effort for decades. We have now been joined in our efforts by the most empowered and energetic generation of American women who will not take ‘no’ for an answer. The time is now to permanently and Constitutionally prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex.”

The hearing, held by the U.S. House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties, centers on H.J. Res. 38, the joint resolution to remove the arbitrary seven-year deadline in the preamble of the ERA to achieve the required ratification by three-fourths of the states.

Witnesses include actor and advocate Patricia Arquette; Nevada State Senator Pat Spearman; Florida International University College of Law Professor Elizabeth Foley; and Kathleen Sullivan, a Partner at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan.

“State efforts to ratify the ERA are on a roll,” Smeal continued. “Nevada ratified in 2017, becoming the 36th state, and Illinois became the 37th state in 2018. Then, just this year, Virginia came within one vote of advancing the ERA. By removing the deadline, Congress would reflect the growing American sentiment that the time for the ERA is now.”

The deadline in the preamble, which the Feminist Majority and others argue is a historical injustice that was never voted on by the states, has been extended once before, but expired in 1982.

“We are pleased to see that the House is once again moving proactively to clear the way for full ratification of the ERA and give constitutional recognition to the rights of American women,” Smeal concluded. “There can be no time limit on the pursuit of equality.”