Alyssa Milano to join Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, ERA Coalition and Women’s Rights Advocates at Shadow Hearing on the Equal Rights Amendment

May 31, 2018
Press Release
With calls for a Judiciary Committee Hearing unanswered, Maloney and company take matters into their own hands

On the heels of Illinois becoming the 37th state since 1972 to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment on Wednesday night, Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), House sponsor of the Equal Rights Amendment (H.J. Res. 33), will host a shadow hearing on the need for an Equal Rights Amendment on Wednesday, June 6 from 3 – 5pm on Capitol Hill. 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.

“Just like most things in life: if you want something done, you’ve got to do it yourself,” said Rep. Maloney. “I have introduced the ERA in the last 11 Congresses and my requests for legislative hearings or markups have gone unanswered. So, on June 6 we will hold a hearing of our own so that my colleagues and the American people can hear from advocates and experts as to why we need to guarantee women’s equality in the Constitution. As we see attacks on women’s rights, autonomy, and bodies every single day from the Trump Administration and the Republican Congress, passing the ERA is our strongest weapon to fight back. I’m proud to be joined my colleagues, hearing witnesses and advocates across the country to usher in a new era for the ERA.”

“It’s a shame there was no response to Congresswoman Maloney’s request for a hearing on the Equal Rights Amendment from House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte,” said Alyssa Milano. “But I applaud Congresswoman Maloney for taking matters into her own hands and I so look forward to giving the opening testimony in the ERA shadow hearing on behalf of women everywhere who are demanding equality. 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. It’s simple, we need the ERA to protect women’s rights.  We need the ERA to make sure all women, and girls, know that they are in no way limited by their gender.”

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. 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,” said Carol Robles-Román.

"This is clearly a new era for the ERA," said ERA Coalition Co-President Jessica Neuwirth, "and we are thrilled to see so much growing momentum.”

"Passing the ERA is literally a life or death issue. My estranged husband abducted my three young daughters in 1999 and they were later found murdered in his truck after Colorado police refused to enforce a restraining order. I immediately filed a suit against law enforcement and the county," said domestic violence survivor Jessica (Gonzales) Lenahan. "But in 2005 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that I had no Constitutional right to police enforcement of the restraining order. Let that sink in. The ERA would change that."

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.