On Tuesday, women’s rights activists announced a plan to revive a failed 1972 campaign to pass an Equal Rights Amendment that would legally enshrine equal rights for women in the constitution for the first time. The deadline to pass the ERA, which was initially approved by the U.S. Congress in 1972, expired in 1982 after falling short of the 38 state ratifications necessary for it to become part of the constitution. Today, the ERA has been ratified by 37 states, but resolutions have been proposed to remove or restart the deadline.
“Women’s hard-fought rights and the progress that we’ve made over the course of a century are under attack,” said New York Rep. Carolyn Maloney, a Democrat who sponsored one such resolution to bring back the ERA. “It’s happening, in part, because our constitution does not contain the word ‘women.’”
According to Maloney and other advocates of the amendment, a strict legal requirement that women be afforded equal rights as men would provide activists with the legal ammunition they need to enforce equal pay and end discrimination in the workforce. But opponents have claimed that the ERA is unnecessary, with some even going so far as to claim that the amendment might actually weaken protections for women.
Speaking at “The People’s State of the Union,” a protest event that was billed as a “public alternative” to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address, actresses Patricia Arquette and Alyssa Milano joined other activists and political leaders in calling for the passage of the ERA.
“We have waited too long. We cannot wait another century, another decade, another year, or another month. We need constitutional protection for women,” said Arquette on Tuesday. “”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. Well, I hope you’re all ready now. Because it’s 2019 and we should all be more than ready.”