House acts to remove deadline for Equal Rights Amendment
Washington – In a bid to revive the Equal Rights Amendment, the House on Thursday approved a measure removing a 1982 deadline for state ratification and reopening the process to amend the Constitution to prohibit discrimination based on sex.
“There is no expiration date on equality,’’ said Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier of California, the resolution’s sponsor.
Nearly 50 years after it was first approved by Congress and sent to the states, the Equal Rights Amendment “is just as salient as ever,’’ Speier said. ”For survivors of sexual violence, pregnancy discrimination, unequal pay and more, the fight for equal justice under the law can’t wait any longer.’’
The House approved the resolution, 232-183, sending it to the Senate. Five Republicans – all men – joined 227 Democrats to support the measure. No Democrat opposed it.
Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland and Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska have co-sponsored a similar proposal, but the measure is unlikely to be taken up in the GOP-controlled Senate. Cardin said this week he is confident the resolution would pass if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell allowed a floor vote.
Congress sent the amendment, which guarantees men and women equal rights under the law, to the states in 1972. It gave states seven years to ratify it, later extending the deadline to 1982. But the amendment wasn’t ratified by the required three-quarters of states before the deadline.
Last month, however, Virginia lawmakers voted to ratify the amendment, becoming the 38th and final state needed. The Justice Department has said it’s too late, and a lawsuit is now ongoing.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called passage of the resolution long overdue, noting that Congress will soon observe the 100th anniversary of women having the right to vote.
And yet “the ERA is still not enshrined in the Constitution,’’ the California Democrat said. ”As a result, women still face inequality under the law from the wage gap to pregnancy discrimination, sexual harassment and, again, resulting in women being underrepresented at the table.’’