Cause: The Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution, a provision that would guarantee women protection under the law, which is one state short of the 38 needed to meet the threshold for constitutional changes. Though Congress first passed the language in 1972, the deadline for state ratification has since expired. (Advocates came up three states short by the original deadline of 1979, which was later extended to 1982.) Buoyed by the #MeToo movement, its supporters are looking to remove the deadline and restart the process, including through legislation sponsored by Democratic Reps. Carolyn Maloney (N.Y.) and Jackie Speier (Calif.).
Celebs: Patricia Arquette, fresh off her Screen Actors’ Guild win (and that moment when she thanked special counsel Robert Mueller during her acceptance speech), and Alyssa Milano, who has long teamed up with Maloney and publicly campaigned for the amendment, including testifying at a “shadow hearing” on it last year.
Scene: A part pep rally, part news conference in the Capitol Visitor Center to launch efforts to ratify the amendment in the new Congress, which includes more women than ever before. A gaggle of activists and female members of Congress (joined by at least one male colleague) took turns speaking and waved signs that read “ERA YES” and “ERA NOW” for the cameras.
Sound bite: Arquette bemoaned the 1982 deadline, which she called arbitrary, and the decades that have passed since without action. “Why, because the country wasn’t ready in 1982? Well, I hope you’re ready now,” she said. “’Cause it’s 2019, and we should all be more than ready.” She concluded with a rallying cry that drew hoots and applause. “We’re done waiting!”