Rep. Maloney Participates in Seneca Falls Dialogues in the Birthplace of the Suffragist Movement
NEW YORK—On Sunday, October 23, 2016, Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney joined a panel of distinguished women’s rights activists, including Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul, for a paneled community dialogue, known as the Seneca Falls Dialogues, in the birthplace of the suffragist movement. The 2016 Dialogues focused on exploring the responsibility and possibilities to address equality for women given the coming 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment and America's lack of progress and unfinished business in achieving equality for women, and whether 2020 will be a pivotal point in American History for women’s equality.
“2016 has been an enlightening year for women, to say the least – how our country values and treats women has been front and center in the national conversation,” said Congresswoman Maloney. “With each passing year, it becomes a little more difficult to make headway. There are too many people – men and women included – who think that the fights for women’s equality have been fought and won. But when we look around, we see countless examples proving that it is just not true. It is a sad truth that most of our time in Congress is spent preventing rollbacks of rights and protections women have already earned.
“Last year, I reintroduced the Equal Rights Amendment for the 10th time since I came to Congress. We are now nearly 100 years since the original ERA was introduced by the suffragist Alice Paul here in Seneca Falls in 1923. It has been introduced in nearly every Congress since then. There is bipartisan support for the ERA in this Congress as has been true in the past. We all have an interest in ensuring that every woman is able to meet their full potential, in the workplace, in government, in academia, in the home, and everywhere in between. Women are half the population, and a country simply cannot thrive while half of its people are discriminated against and economically stifled.
“The significance of the Equal Rights Amendment is that it will extend to all areas of women’s lives and apply across sectors of society. The only way to eliminate the gender pay gap is to pass and ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. Without it, women’s equality is not guaranteed under the law and will not be upheld in federal court. It’s that simple. The ERA gives women a fighting chance to achieve pay parity with their male colleagues, take a maternity leave or ask for reasonable accommodations during pregnancy without losing their jobs, and ensure that they can seek damages against a violent partner who threatens her safety and the safety of her children. The fact that women are largely defenseless against discrimination in U.S. federal courts is unacceptable. Without an Equal Rights Amendment, we cannot claim that we are a country that values “equality under the law.”
Since coming to Congress, Congresswoman Maloney has worked tirelessly as an advocate and leader for women. She has placed a special emphasis on women’s health needs, reproductive freedom, international family planning, and securing women’s equality in the Constitution.
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:
- Make 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.
- Guaranteeing equal footing for women in the legal systems of all 50 states.
- Ensuring that government programs and federal resources benefit men and women equally.
Why we need the ERA:
- An ERA will give all citizens the opportunity to reach their full potential. Women and men must have equal rights for a democracy to thrive.
- An ERA will put women on equal footing in the legal systems of all 50 states, particularly in areas where women have historically been treated as second-class citizens, including in cases of public education, divorce, child custody, domestic violence, and sexual assault.
- Women are still not receiving equal pay for equal work. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, women on average earn only 80 cents for every dollar earned by a man.
- Passing an ERA will put the full weight of the U.S. Constitution behind employment laws relating to the prevention of sex discrimination in hiring, firing, promotions, and benefits – especially in the public sector.
- An ERA will eliminate sex discrimination in the armed services and ensure that government programs, such as Social Security, do not have a disparate negative impact on women.
- Pregnancy discrimination continues to be prevalent in the workforce. An ERA can protect women from being harmed by a policy simply because she is a woman.
- The 14th amendment is not enough. Only an ERA would provide for gender equity and offer an “overriding guarantee” of equal protection for women.
- Women’s progress can be all too easily rolled back. Laws can be repealed and judicial attitudes can shift. Supreme Court Justice Scalia has even said that the Constitution does not protect against discrimination on the basis of gender.
- An ERA will ensure that the rights of American women and girls will not be diminished by any Congress or any political trend, but instead be preserved as basic rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.
- An ERA would help promote equal pay for women in the country.