Alyssa Milano and Patricia Arquette rally on Capitol Hill in support of the long-delayed equal right
WASHINGTON — Alyssa Milano’s not mincing words when it comes to equal rights.
“My name is Alyssa Milano, and in 2019, I do not have equal rights under the Constitution,” said the star. “Because I have a vagina, I do not have equality and justice.”
The “Charmed” actress joined Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), fellow thespian Patricia Arquette and others Tuesday for a Capitol Hill rally to push for passage of the long-delayed equal rights amendment.
And it’s almost there.
In the 1970s, lawmakers set a deadline for the ratification of the ERA. When it ran out in 1982, only 35 of the needed 38 states had ratified the measure.
The constitutionality of the deadline remains in dispute, but the ERA stayed dormant until 2017, when Nevada ratified the amendment. Illinois followed suit last year.
It needs one more state. Milano joined Arquette, who co-starred in “True Romance,” to push the law over the finish line.
“Our government and the men in power decided that if we didn’t get all 38 states by 1982, then we were not going to get equality at all,” said Arquette. “Why? Because the country wasn’t ready in 1982? Well, I hope you’re all ready now. Because it’s 2019 and we should all be more than ready.”
Two resolutions are being offered to “cover all the bases,” said an aide to Maloney, who represents parts of Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. One version, introduced by Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), would extend that old 1982 deadline.
States including Virginia, Arizona and North Carolina have already begun working on ratifications to become the final state needed.
But in case the expired deadline ever became a sticking point, Maloney’s resolution would start ratification from scratch.
Maloney argued that between having Donald Trump in the White House and a number of Supreme Court verdicts that did not protect women, passing the ERA was vital.
“Our hard-fought rights and the progress we’ve made over the course of a century is being challenged. And it’s happening in part because our Constitution does not contain the word ‘women,’ ” Maloney said.
“We cannot allow our most fundamental rights to be subject to the passing political whims of whatever party is in power,” she said. “Our rights should be bedrock, concrete in the Constitution.”
After Hollywood titan Harvey Weinstein and other powerful men were exposed in 2017, Milano tweeted in October the request, “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet.”
She said 53,000 women did, and the collective outrage added a new shield for women to guard themselves.
“Our predators could rely on the shield of their privilege, but finally we had protection, too, in the form of each other,” Milano said. “Now we are asking for protection in the Constitution.”
Milano sees ratification as the natural extension of that social media outpouring.
“After #MeToo went viral, I would get asked the question all the time, What comes next,” Milano told the Daily News. “And to me, the way to progress the movement is we need policy and legislation, and the equal rights amendment embodies all of that and will put the weight of the Constitution behind women.”