Alyssa Milano, Rep. Maloney, ERA Coalition Call for Ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment

Jun 4, 2018
Press Release
Milano’s tweet encouraging victims of sexual harassment to put “me too” as their status helped ignite the #MeToo Movement

NEW YORK—Today, Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12), House Sponsor of the Equal Rights Amendment (H.J. Res. 33), joined activist and actress Alyssa Milano, the ERA Coalition, and women’s rights advocates to call for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). The ERA would guarantee that Constitutional rights apply equally to all persons regardless of their sex. Currently, the right to vote is the only right guaranteed to women in the Constitution.

Although the ERA passed Congress in 1972, it was ratified by only 35 of the 38 states required to amend the Constitution. Rep. Maloney has reintroduced the ERA 11 times. In 2017, Nevada ratified the ERA and just last week Illinois became the 37thstate to ratify. 

“Women are half the population and yet, the only right we are guaranteed in the constitution is the right to vote,” saidCongresswoman Maloney. “At a time when there is an outcry from across our country for equal pay for women, an end to sexual harassment and assault, and heightened awareness of sex discrimination in practically every sector of society, we must talk about Constitutional equality. We need to harness this energy to create lasting change for generations to come, and that means finally getting women’s rights in the constitution.”

“Women everywhere are demanding equality,” said Alyssa Milano.  “The #MeToo movement was such a powerful phenomenon because for far too long, women have not felt heard.  It’s hard to empower women when they are not recognized as part of our constitution.  Now is the time for that to change and for the ERA to become part of the law for our nation.”

"The U.S. Constitution as written excludes women from its protection, and as a result too many women and girls are victims of discrimination and harassment,” said Carol Robles-Román. That must end now. Today, the ERA Coalition and our lead organizations move closer to our ultimate goal: advocating for American women to have constitutional equality once and for all.”

“I commend America’ Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney for being a national champion for women and for introducing the Equal Rights Amendment every year since she has been in office!” saidAssembly Member Rebecca Seawright. “Let’s make this year, the year it happens. I am proud to have introduced and helped to pass the Equal Rights Amendment in the New York State Assembly.  The women of our state, like the women of our country, deserve the constitutional protection of equal rights to ensure that progress made thus far in policies to prohibit sex discrimination is not weakened or undermined. The Equal Rights amendment to the New York State and the United States Constitutions will ensure that women are permanently protected from sex-based discrimination. The time to act is now!”

On Wednesday, June 6, Congresswoman Maloney will host a shadow hearing on the need for an Equal Rights Amendment in Washington, DC. Hearing witnesses will be actress and activist Alyssa Milano, Co-President of the ERA Coalition Carol Robles-Román, and Jessica Lenahan, plaintiff in Supreme Court Case Castle Rock v. Gonzales. In April, Maloney sent a letter to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte requesting a hearing on the ERA but has received no response. There has not been a Congressional hearing on the ERA since 1984.

Background on the ERA

Many people today believe that equal rights for men and women are already enshrined in the U.S. Constitution – and are shocked when they learn that they are not. To this day, the right to vote is the only right guaranteed to women in the constitution, even though women make up more than 50% of the population.

The ERA is a constitutional amendment which would prohibit denying or abridging equal rights under law by the United States or any state on account of sex. This critical amendment would guarantee the equal rights of men and women by making sex a suspect category subject to strict judicial scrutiny, clarifying the legal status of sex discrimination for the courts. This would prohibit sexual discrimination in the same way we have prohibited discrimination on the basis of race, religion, and national origin. It would also guarantee equal footing for women in the legal systems of all 50 states and ensure that government programs and federal resources benefit men and women equally. Congresswoman Maloney is the leader in Congress of the effort to add an Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex.