We are writing to share some very good news! On January 21, Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) introduced a Joint Resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives with bipartisan support of 200 co-sponsors, including Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), to declare that three-fourths of the states have ratified the Equal Rights Amendment and deem it to be a part of the Constitution. The resolution would also remove the arbitrary timeline for ratification put into the preamble of the amendment by congressional opponents of the ERA. The next day, Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) introduced an identical Resolution in the Senate.
This means that after a decades long fight for equality, we are now on the verge of seeing the Equal Rights Amendment added to the U.S. Constitution.
Thanks to victories by feminist-supported candidates in the 2020 elections and in the recent run-off elections in Georgia, the U.S. Senate flipped from red to blue, the blue majority was sustained in the U.S. House, and Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were elected to the White House.
With these victories and the newly introduced House and Senate Joint Resolutions, Congress can now vote to, at last, ensure gender equality for all Americans.
As we write in the new Winter 2021 issue of Ms., the Biden-Harris administration “has already established its ambitious agenda for advancing women’s rights.” And both Biden and Harris have long supported the ERA.
But as you can imagine the opponents of women’s equality are pulling out all the stops to block our victory.
This means that even with victories of ERA supporters in the elections, the drive to finally add the ERA to the U.S. Constitution is far from over. We must work as never before to push forward the drive to finally secure full constitutional rights for women.
That’s why we’re writing to special Members of the Ms. Community like you to request that you take an extraordinary step to help make sure we can finish the job and – at last! – get the ERA into the U.S. Constitution.
You see, in 1972 Congress added an arbitrary ratification timeline of 1979 to the preamble of the ERA, later changing it to 1982 – but they did not add the timeline to the actual text of the Amendment that 38 states have already voted to ratify. This means – according to some of the most respected constitutional law scholars in the country – that the timeline is not binding.
When Virginia became the 38th state (the final one needed) to vote to ratify the ERA in January 2020, the Trump administration’s Department of Justice (then headed by Attorney General Bill Barr) issued an opinion arguing the final three states’ ratification did not count because they were past the time limit. As a result, the archivist was blocked from publishing the Amendment.
So now the drive for the ERA will move to Congress to ensure that the arbitrary timeline that was set by anti-ERA forces in Congress does not become an excuse to block the amendment.
Our coverage of this final drive for the ERA will go beyond simple reporting on the legislative and legal fights that lie ahead. We’ll provide important context and expert analysis to explore the impact of constitutional equality on all areas of women’s lives as well as research and investigative reporting to shine a bright light on the opponents to equality and their strategies.