The Equal Rights Amendment is only one state away from ratification.
Only 35 of the 38 states needed ratified the amendment by the 1982 deadline set by Congress, but after all these years the act may not be dead.
U.S. Rep. Tom Reed of Corning is the only Republican to cosponsor two House resolutions involving a resurrection of the Equal Rights Amendment.
One, sponsored by California Democrat Jackie Speier, would extend the deadline for ratification.
The other, sponsored by New York Democrat Carolyn Maloney, would re-start the ratification process in the 116th Congress. That would require states to again vote to ratify the ERA.
Actresses Patricia Arquette and Alyssa Milano joined the three congressional members at a press conference announcing the efforts to revive the ERA.
“We have waited long enough,” said Arquette. “This is 2019, and it is time for the United States of America to afford women the equal rights they have been denied in their own nation for so long. It is time we step into our new future — the fair and equitable future American women have long been waiting for. We are done waiting.”
Milano said, “Passing the ERA would put the full weight of our Constitution behind women’s equality, behind fighting sexual discrimination and harassment, for equal pay for equal work, and against policies that harm women just because they are women.”
Asked Wednesday how he came to be a co-sponsor of the resolutions, Reed said he and Maloney have a long-standing working relationship. Reed and Maloney participated in a Faith and Politics Institute congressional pilgrimage in the district last year.
“She reached out” to Reed as a co-sponsor, and he agreed. “That’s plan B,” he explained.
Reed also co-sponsored Speier’s bill to extend the ratification deadline for the ERA, which he favors.
The 1982 deadline for ratification by 38 states set by the 1972 Congress that passed the ERA “is a gray area,” Reed said.
“I think they are in position to make a strong argument when that 38th state ratifies,” Reed said. “I’m joining in the effort to put pressure on the state legislatures.”
It looks like Virginia may be the first state to vote on ERA ratification, Reed said.
There’s something personal in the Equal Rights Amendment for Reed. After the death of his father, he was raised by a single mother. He also had eight sisters.
“I took that life lesson” learned from my mother in joining with men and women to see that “finally, men and women are to be treated equally.”
Women did not receive the same protections as men when the U.S. Constitution was drawn up, Reed said.
In this year marking the 100th year since women got the right to vote, it would be fitting to finally protect women from discrimination based on sex, he said.