Actresses Patricia Arquette and Alyssa Milano rallied on Capitol Hill alongside lawmakers Tuesday morning for the abolition of the ratification deadline and subsequent ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.
“Women are not treated with the same value as men in America, and that stands to reason, as they have no value in their own Constitution,” Arquette said.
The Equal Rights Amendment, an addition to the Constitution that would ensure equal rights to all Americans regardless of sex, was first introduced in 1923. It passed in Congress in 1972 but only 35 states ratified it ahead of the decided 1982 deadline. Thirty-eight states must approve constitutional amendments in order for them to be ratified. While Nevada and Illinois have joined since then to become the 36th and 37th states, respectively, a vote to make Virginia the 38th state failed in the state Legislature last week.
Milano warned legislators in states that have not yet ratified the ERA that the cost could be significant. “Ignoring the ERA will have consequences in elections,” the “Charmed” star said. “We will make a project out of you. We’ve done it before.”
The actors joined Democratic Reps. Jackie Speier of California and Carolyn Maloney of New York as they introduced their resolutions, as well as cosponsor Republican Rep. Tom Reed of New York, who represents Seneca Falls, the site of the first women’s rights convention, where the ERA was introduced. Speier’s resolution would remove the deadline to ratify the ERA, while Maloney’s bill would restart the ratification process.
“Your rights are under attack on multiple fronts in the White House and in statehouses across the country,” said Maloney, speaking to American women. “Our hard-fought rights and the progress that we’ve made over the course of a century is being challenged.”
When the ERA passed in 1972, there were 15 women serving in Congress. A record-breaking number of 127 women hold seats in Congress in 2019 following the 2018 midterm elections.
Sens. Ben Cardin, a Maryland Democrat, and Lisa Murkowski, an Alaska Republican, have introduced a companion joint resolution in the Senate to remove the ratification deadline.