#ERA Now: The Fight For Gender Equality in the Constitution
Hi, Melissa Milano, and this is sorry. Not sorry, where we tackle social political and cultural issues from the perspective of unapologetic guests while highlighting citizen activists doing amazing things throughout the country. Ooh. Today's episode is a special one dedicated to the equal rights, amendment after thirty six years, congress finally held a hearing in April on the ER a which I was fortunate enough to attend. It was a powerful day. And both women and men spoke to the importance of getting this amendment passed in this episode. You'll hear from Representative Carolyn Maloney, my friend, Kate Kelly, human rights attorney, Kimberly Johnson, an author and activist and many more voices on why this is so crucial. And why we need the ER a now. Hi, this is congresswoman Carolyn Maloney from New York, and I'm fighting to ratify the equal rights amendment. Hi, I'm Kate Kelly, and I fight for the rights of women and all marginalized genders really Johnson. And on fighting the ER a slurry now. It was almost a hundred years ago in nineteen Twenty-three that Alice Paul leader of the women's suffrage movement. I introduced to the public and idea of what would eventually become the proposed equal rights amendment. Rising voices of women passage of civil rights laws and the power organized labor all helped to build momentum in the seventies when it passed congress, this has been a lifetime campaign for many of us a lifetime campaign. It doesn't start in nineteen Twenty-three with Alice Paul, actually, we have been an afterthought in this country since the beginning of this country constitutionists rocks that after proposed amendment receives that are fired. Two thirds of the vote each of the houses. It has to be ratified by three quarters of the states after the area was sent to the states and seventy two ratified by thirty five the necessary, thirty eight state legislatures, but for decades, extraordinary progress, toward quality, stall, well organized counter boop, scared the American people into thinking that the guarantee of quality was somehow harm women who stay at home to racer children and would erode American. Families would it started as a matter of broad consensus became another divisive issue in the culture wars. So my interest in the rights management happened after me to sort of went big and people kept telling me like what, what comes next. What happens next with me, too? And so I started doing a lot of research on. Women's rights and the women's rights movement and learned about the goal rights amendment. Now, this was what two years ago, and it just seemed like as I was reading about it like, what, of course, this is such a no brainer. And I think I was very much like the eighty five percent of Americans who think women are protected in the constitution other than the nineteenth amendment. So I just assumed that there was something already in there to protect us. So that's, that's where my interest came from. Where did your interest come from? So I was raised Mormon. So, I learned about the equal rights as though it were evil the Mormon church played a very pivotal role in killing the original fight for the rights moment. And there was a woman who led a what's called Mormons four the era and she was excommunicated from the Mormon church as a result. And it was this really big story. And so I remember learning about. About her miss on your as though she was this evil terrible heretic, because she wanted equal rights for women in the constitution and she defied the church and my grandmother. So the Mormon church organized women in every state to oppose the a and they kind of appointed a person a point person for media and each state to be anti. And my grandmother was the anti are a point person for the Mormon church in the state of Arizona. Let's back up a little bit. Can you explain to our listeners about a little bit about the history of the mend -ment? Yeah. So the rights amendment was written in nineteen Twenty-three by woman named Alice Paul who fought really, really visit firstly for the nineteenth amendment Alice, Paul sort of ramped up the rhetoric and included fasting and all of these different protests tactics that she had learned in the UK brought it back to the US, and then really, really. Sealed the deal on the nineteenth amendment, and soon as the nineteenth man was passed Alice Paul, and others, began planning, and scheming, and organizing for what would come next for women, so Alice, Paul introduced the equal rights amendment in nineteen Twenty-three in Seneca falls. And every year from nineteen Twenty-three onward, the equal rights amendment was introduced in congress. In fact, it was on the platforms of both political parties both Republicans and Democrats until it passed in nineteen seventy two. So had this kind of wide bipartisan support, and then the women's movement came along and really catapulted into fruition by the end of the century. I hope this nation will be a place where men and women in freely. Choose their life's work without restrictions in without ridicule. I watch though the women's movement belong more to my daughter's than to me. But I have come to know that it belongs to women all agents. I am cloud, say, and I won't you to know that Texas was the ninth state to ratify the right of women vote and. And the seventh state to ratify the equal rights amendment. Watched. Together never. It passed in nineteen seventy two but congress put a deadline on it, and we can talk more about the deadline, but there was a seven year deadline initially in nineteen seventy eight congress voted to extend the deadline, so they extended the deadline to nineteen eighty two and it passed in thirty five of the states. So according to article five of the US constitution, our amendment to the constitution has to be passed in congress and ratified by three fourths of the states. So that's thirty eight so we came to thirty five and the deadline expired. So we are just three states short in nineteen eighty two I was born in nineteen eighty so a lot of people my age and younger, don't even know about the ER a because the main fight for it really died off, before we were born, and then fast forward where we're at now the twenty seventh amendment is the most recent amendment in that amendment has to do with congressional pay raise. Is-is it was proposed by James Madison as part of the original Bill of rights, didn't make it through. But that amendment eventually got ratified in the nineteen nineties, so two hundred and three years later after it was proposed the twenty seventh amendment was ratified. So that gave a lot of hope for equal rights advocates all around the country to say okay over two hundred years later amendment can be ratified, you know, less than forties. Not really that big of a deal. So the fight for the rights really centered around this three state strategy. So getting those three additional states that we lacked in the beginning to ratify in twenty seventeen after the women's movement in the women's March and me to all these different sort of a resurgence of the women's movement, a Senator in Nevada. Pat Spearman, who's this incredible queer black preacher and a Senator in Nevada revived the fight. Ratified the Yarra in Nevada on March twenty second two thousand seventeen forty five years after the was submitted to congress Nevada became the first date to ratify the ER, a after the expiration of June, thirtieth deadline the state of Illinois followed with ratification on may the thirtieth. It was my great privilege to sponsor Senate joint resolution to which supported Nevada's, ratification in two thousand seventeen when this resolution was discussed one of the questions always asked is the ER a necessary and I continue to see evidence of the need for the ER a every day, in the nineteen ninety seven article in William and Mary journal of women. And LOL, they concluded that the need for federal equal rights amendment remains s compelling today as it was in nineteen seventy eight when the now supreme court, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, wrote into Harvard women's law journal with the equal rights amendment. We may expect congress and the state legislators to take undertake in earnest. Statically and pervasively the law revised so long deferred. And in the event of legislative default, the coach will have an unassailable basis to apply the bedrock principle. All men and women are created equal pay equity, or maybe I should say pay inequity is still a significant concern. Although the gender pay gap is narrowing, according to the Pew Research Center, women of the United States, earned just eighty cents eighty percent of what their male counterparts earn women of color. Black women typically make only sixty percent and Latina's make only fifty percent of what white non Hispanic male counterparts make a common work. I common theme of workforce issues for women is the lack of paid leave and affordable. Childcare and the Vata the legislature is currently considering a measure that would require a private employer with fifty or more employees to provide paid leave to each employee just last week. The Nevada Senate passed Senate Bill, one sixty six. Wchs to ensure equal pay for equal work and penalize employers who practice pay discrimination, the Nevada semi will hear the Bill soon and I pay the Bill will pass as well. Governor Sisak said in his state of the state address. He intends to make pay equity the law in Nevada. And our state will have a pay equity law. Moreover, when it comes to crimes against women we continue to suffer from victim blaming such shame stigma, and the ingrain of guilt upon the female victim. So where we're at now is Raleigh, one state short of that ratification, and putting women into the US constitution. Thirty six years. Thirty six years. Since congress had a hearing on this issue that affects every single woman and man in this country without constitutional protection, pay disparities will continue to be allowed in this country because of the high obstacle of showing that there is intent to discriminate in order for a woman to prevail in court. This is real fifty percent of the major breadwinners in families today are women with children. It is time for us to take this issue. Seriously? So women Maloney of New York has always been an incredible champion for the eagle rights amendment. We, you just tell us when you're fight for the Yarra began. Oh, gosh, Elissa I think I've always been fighting for equal rights. I've always supported it. And when I went into public life, I fought even more for it. My my late husband's grandmother was the first cousin of Alice Paul, the altar of equal rights amendment who introduced it in nineteen. Twenty-three Sinica Sinica falls, New York, and was one of the leading women who who led us to the right to vote. So it was very much part of his his home life in my home life. And, and what's more important than equal rights? It's more nothing especially especially nowadays. And then we, we flash forward to just a few months ago, and the first hearing on the equal rights of men men in thirty six years. Wow. Why, why, why do you think it's taken so long? But. It have a great deal of momentum. But after after it failed, there was a time limit on it, and it did not meet that time limit, and we had to have thirty thirty eight states ratify and only had thirty five it ignited again, in the year of the woman in nineteen ninety two when Anita hill spoke out about harassment and discrimination. I've never seen women. So, so electrified they would run up to me and say things like finally someone is speaking out about it. And then with this election, this year, Trump with his election, he terrified people. He literally ran on rolling backup choice enrolling back women's rights and, and women were energized. The day after his inauguration, there were women marches all over the United States, not just in Washington. But all over the world in New York City, we thought we would have roughly ten thousand people show, the police department told me it was over seven hundred thousand women like minded men, children came out to March, we couldn't even March because the streets were so full, you couldn't even move. It was such a such a movement. And after that came the time's up movement, the metoo movement of which you are a great leader. And all these women speaking out and demanding that something be done. Women are not waiting anymore. We demand what is right. Full equality. Now, we demand that it be spelled out in the constitution and you know how to spell it he are a now. What were you feeling when you're sitting in that in that hearing that historic hearing, what was it like for you? I was deeply deeply grateful. I was really deeply grateful to a democratic majority in congress, most of the time, I've been in congress have been in the minority in no matter how much you beg. We couldn't make it happen. But we have shadow hearing because I couldn't get a hearing from the Republican majority, the year before I had a shadow hearing, and Jerry Nadler, at that hearing announce that if we got the majority, a top on his agenda, would be having a hearing finally an official federal hearing that was the, the shadow hearing that you gave such a forceful and moving testimony, it was electrified. I thought that hearing Arshi Harry, but to finally have an official hearing and know that we will soon be getting vote moving it out of committee. I just felt grateful that it had finally happened. And it's something that I was a priority of. Mine when I went to congressman nineteen ninety to leave it or not when we elected of the largest class of women ever. It was exciting to see women walk down the aisle, not to get married, but to be sworn into the United States Congress, but this year, we elected over one hundred women of for the first time since I've been in congress, the congress pro choice, so we have a we have momentum's we have strength, and we have so many women that are committed to helping to pass it it's, it's a whole new day. So there are a lot of, of naysayers that say, why do we need the ERA? Why do we need more than the fourteenth amendment? What do you say to those people because? It doesn't work. The court cases have said the fourteenth amendment does not protect women from discrimination, and most of my time in congress. I've spent a great deal of time, just fighting to hold on to what we already accomplished the constant efforts to role by title. Seventy quality of, of treatment and employment deadline equality of treatment, and in education, Betsy devices prior to gain during this administration, all these efforts to roll back the only way you're guaranteed your rights is if you're in the constitution. Laws. We pass will only be strictly enforced, if they have constitutional backup a buying training, women's equal rights in the constitution. They'll be no question as to whether discrimination on the basis of sex is unlawful and women's equality should not be dependent on which party controls, congress who's in the White House, or who's on the supreme court, our rights need to be based in a solid, legal bedrock and one of the things that I've worked on my whole life is equal pay for equal work. But the only way it will ever be enforced is, if we have the equal rights amendment where it can be enforced. It's that simple. If you have your rights in the constitution, they can be enforced. United States constitution. The world's oldest written constitution is also the only major written constitution in the world. That lacks provisions declaring that men and women are equal. And now is the chance to correct that omission that stain that embarrassment about our constitution through the ratification by just one more state of the nineteen seventy-two amendment. Just to give some examples, the French constitution provides that the law guarantees to the woman all fears rights, equal to those of Ben the German constitution provides that men and women have equal rights, and that nobody shall be prejudiced or favored because of their sex the constitution of India provides that the state shall not discriminate against any citizen on grams of sex, and every written constitution promulgated since World War. Two contains a sex equality provision, but not ours, given the vital role of the US constitution has played in inspiring and informing the written constitutions of other nations. This is a situation that cries out for correction. Eighty four percent of countries have women gender provision in their constitution put women into their constitutions, and that's not just industrialized countries. I mean we're talking like Afghanistan has a gender provision in their constitution, which we encouraged when they passed it. Exactly. So a lot of these places have these gender provision in things aren't perfect in these countries. But it really again, reflects this basic value that men and women are equal. And so when people say, well, why do we need it? Or what rights do men have that women don't have that comes up a lot, especially found Twitter. And it's like a broken record. And so first of all the fourteenth amendment was not designed to protect on the basis of sex initially, and like I said it has a different level of scrutiny so protections. For example, on the basis of race on the basis of religion on the basis of national origin. Those are all given what's called strict scrutiny. So it's like the hardest level it's very difficult to keep those laws on the books because of the eagle Reitman. Because at the time these cases were being litigated, you know, if you seen the Rb g movie Ruth Bader Ginsburg was litigating all these cases, and trying to get a really strong protection on the basis of sex. Because eagle rights amendment was pending at the time. There's a premium court essentially said, okay. Well, if people want discrimination on the basis of sex to be unconstitutional, they can pass in ratify, the equal rights minute, which is currently pending before the states in interim will create essentially a totally separate form of scrutiny, that's lower. It's called intermediate scrutiny. And it's more difficult to prove that these laws discriminate, so you have to prove intent you have to prove not just that impacted a specific category of people, but that they intended it to be discriminatory, which is a much more difficult thing to prove so because of this, a lot of these cases, they have to meet this intermediate scrutiny, but not the highest level. So women aren't fully protected under this level of scrutiny, which is a shame. So the fourteenth amendment does not go far enough to protect women. And like I said, the congress doesn't have the power to their therefore enforce it. So both gives the courts and congress this higher or better power to protect women. You know what I always say when I hear those trolls on Twitter say what? What protections don't you have you have the fourteenth amendment? I always say. Yeah but the fourteenth amendment was written well before the nineteenth amendment. So clearly, it wasn't made to cover women when we didn't even have the right to vote at at time, which is just, you know, common sense. And, and the fact that lawyers have been able to manipulate the fourteenth amendment to also include women is great, but I think that part of an I think that this is all philosophically, wound up in the same sexism and systemic misogyny. That, that me too is in sexual harassment and assault. Because to me, if we were part of the constitution, if it actually said that, that, you know, women women have equal rights, I feel that, you know, we wouldn't be considered less than. And I think that perception of less than is what enables men to abuse their power. Yeah. And I think all of these arguments really in someone mentioned it in the congressional hearing that was just had on the era, you know, men are going to use any excuse. They can to exclude us from the constitution because they don't think that we should have equal rights, and they don't want us to have equal rights. So all of these different arguments, whether they be culture, were arguments, or you're already protected or all these different things. If we were truly already protected to the same level than at worst. The equal rights movement would be repetitive and why not support it. But of course, it's not. And they don't want us to have full rights. Every time we're talking about someone has the same right as someone else, we're not talking about special rights here, which hawking about equal rights. And as I said before the trajectory is moving in the right direction, and it's moving in the right direction. Because every time I have been in a discussion about equality whether it's about racism, whether it's about sexism, whether it's about homophobia, every time we always parse words about whether or not someone has the right to a quality. We, we ratified it because it was the right thing to do. I was wondering if you could just speak a little bit to be, you're a and how it's led to your own advocacy, work. I was already an activist for women. I was I became an activist for women because of the Republican war on women that really amplified after the twenty ten midterms elections. When the tea party got in and started rolling women's rights back. So with equal rights amendment when I found out that we don't have full equality. It pushed me to it, actually gave me. I have a sense of purpose like before I mean, I still had a purpose, but I was a little bit scattered. And now I feel like this is the one thing that brings it all together. Whether it's reproductive rights, equal pay or pregnancy discrimination, or violence against women. They all fall under an, you know, there's so many laws right now in states where if a woman is. Raped, the rapist can sue her for ch- for custody and even for money. And so I think that the rights amendment, just some kind of like, solid foundation, that's going to it's not going to solve all the problems right away, but it's going to be something that we can turn to, and we can take to the supreme court and it can be cited so that when there is a federal case, the language in the amendment is so very specific that it can't be denied. And that's the problem right now, if you're going to cite the fourteenth amendment, which has been cited in many different court cases, a lawyer can turn turn things around or say, no, you know, I interpreted this way it there's nothing in the fourteenth amendment that mentions women male citizens is, is in their three times, but there's nothing for women. So when it's when it's used in court, it can be manipulated to sound like, well, no, not women. So I think the equal rights amendment is like the bedrock to everything. Else. Let's talk a little bit about why women need to be put into the constitution. Yeah. They will writes a moment is important for many reasons I would say one that a lot of people talk about in shouldn't be overlooked is, it's really a symbolic. It's a symbolic victory for women because the constitution is our most basic and foundational document. It really expresses what our core values are those include equality and freedom for everyone, and all of these different rights that are enshrined in the constitution. And if we ratify the equal rights meme, one of those values will be gender equality. So when a little girl reads the constitution in her class in elementary school. She will read through that. And she will know that men and women are equal. And I think that's a huge victory. I think the second reason we need the whole rights amendment is legal. So we right now, when women litigate cases on the basis of sex of your discriminated against because of your sex you go all the way to the supreme court. And the, the scrutiny is what's called the level of scrutiny that gender receives under the current interpretation of the US constitution is a much lower form of scrutiny. That really just means it's easier to pass in keep sexist laws on the books, I always try to work in a bipartisan way every year that I've been produced the rights minute for twelve different congresses of always had a Republican sponsors, not enough, you need more. But it's a deeply divided. It's a very the Republican is very anti woman. They wanna keep women down and back, quite frankly. I don't understand it. How in the world can we compete in the world economy? If we don't have the best talents of all of our people competing with others around the world. And but I was little all you needed was a was a pencil. Now you have to have your computer and your competing with everybody in the world. So it's, it's a whole changed. It's going to happen. Let's go over some of the arguments against the rights amendment. 'cause there are many, there's the religious opposition. Let's talk about that. Yeah, I think a lot of times for a lot of, you know, I work on all different kinds of issues child marriage in the US female genital mutilation, sexual assault, constitutional equality in a lot of this opposition comes up from really traditional conservative groups, and religious groups and some of that opposition is fear that their beliefs or their way of life will somehow be impeded by by the introduction of equal rights. I understand that fear as a person who was raised very religious and continues to have a robust spiritual life. I understand that fear. And I think that's part of the reason it's so salient, or powerful is that people genuinely believe that they are going to be prevented from. From religious practice, but that is, you know, religious exemptions exist almost every level in federal law, religious groups aren't, you know, forced to hire people. They don't wanna hire, they're not forced to comply in many places. They're not forced to comply with discrimination laws. You know, there are exceptions in many cases for religions and freedom of religion is very, very bare. He may be some would say, overly and robustly protected in the United States. So I understand the fear, and where that comes from, but I don't think that religious organizations would lose their ability to practice as they believe, and, and some would also argue religious organizations, should not be free to discriminate. And, and so. Ally. Understand those concerns. I don't think that they are they're not going to materialize. Once again, our values are under attack by this proposed legislation despite crimes of protecting women's interests. E R A will actually end up hurting women, and it would force equal representation of women in all military roles regardless of their abilities, if passed a future war would require women to be drafted just as men. It's concerning to me that the ER a treats women identically to men, not equally to men lending to it the current sad of Trent on gender fluidity. And I think that's a real concern. The Senate cold unisex amendment. They said it would destroy traditional man, woman, relationships, weaken, family ties, increase homosexuality file a biblical teachings and undermine thousands of state laws designed to protect women against life's hazards, Mississippi, Johnston said women would have to put on combat boots March off to fight wars just like men, North Carolina. Sam Irvin said women would be slaughtered and Maine by bombs and bullets just like men. I just wanna go through some of the other opposition points. So just to give you a chance to tell our listeners why there is no reason to worry about any of these points. The military yeah, I think another this is another argument that came up a lot in the original fight for your a, so a lot of the scare tactics, they were using again. They're very salient like they were telling women like if we ratify the equal rights amendment, you are going to be thrust onto the frontlines of battle. If we ratify the equal rights amendment, there are going to be rapists hiding in public bathrooms ready to prey on you like if we ratify the eagle rides amendment, you are not going to be able to practice your religion as you believe. So all of these arguments scare tactics are actually very you know, if you're a vulnerable person if you're vulnerable woman than these have a lot of sway. And so I think the military the combat. Argument. It's sort of a rises still. But I mean as we know women serve in all combat roles already, and it, actually, in World War, Two that women were about to be drafted as nurses in the last days of World War, Two twenty sixteen. The Senate in fact, it was John McCain, who was arguing for this Bill. And he essentially said, you know, women already served with great distinction in all aspect of armed forces. And he said, and so they passed a Bill in the Senate that women be required to register with selective service and in October twenty seventeen. The Pentagon recommended that women register for selective service and then just this year federal judge held that essentially the male only draft would be unconstitutional, even under the fourteenth amendment. So we don't even need that you are a courts are already saying that a, you know, a gender segregated selective service is unconstitutional. And so regardless of ratification. Vacation of equal rights amendment are reinstated draft will likely include everyone not just men now there. There is a, a long debate to be had about whether or not, we should have a draft or whether or not, you know, the military industrial complex etcetera etcetera. I'm just saying, regardless of how you feel about the military is centrally. It has already been decided that, that you cannot exclude women from the draft, if it were to be reinstated. So that argument is really moved. Many would be surprised to know that it's recent as nineteen ninety six women were not able to a tin, any and all colleges that they wanted to in the Kama wolf Virginia. I realize this fact when I was sitting in my high school classroom, and I was in my juror TC class, one of the only women in that class, and we were watching the Virginia Military institute decision on TV it was in that moment that I realized that Virginia Military institute, one of the top military colleges in the United States. One of the only institutes of higher learning that has the highest dropout rate of any college in the country, and that is not by accident. But by design had spent millions of dollars to keep women out of its doors. And in their class. Many of my fellow classmates mostly male had justification such as well. It's a well known fact that women are biologically inferior to men physically and intellectually, and that was not the place for a woman to be. And it was in that moment that I remember hearing Justice, Ginsburg, say, and I'm paraphrasing that women can do all things if given the opportunity. And I stood up and proclaimed that, that was fact and that I was just as powerful and capable and smart as any man in that room. And all of the men got up and protested. In my best friend who was going to go to West Point. He walked up to me, and he said, I'm going to go to VMI with you, because I want to be there to watch you. When you fail. And that was his truth. That's what he believed. And so he went to a my with me, along with another male cadet, and when they got their head shaved bald. So did I. When they put on a man's uniform, I put on a man's uniform, and I'm marched and sweat, and bled beside the hundreds of other male cadets. I stand before you now to say that I am proud that out of the other two male cadets to go that I am the only one to walk across Virginia. Military institute stage on. And so when people ask me, why am I hearing, the equal rights amendment? That is why I understand, sexist Grenadian. It's all too familiar to me. Amendment was written, so long ago almost one hundred years ago and was modeled after the nineteenth amendment. And so it simply says, on the basis of sex on the basis of sex doesn't mean now what it meant then. And so in a really positive way, I think the equal rights amendment is broad enough as currently written to cover not only women, but all marginalized genders, and also I think there's a very good argument that it can cover discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. So there's been a lot of different supreme are sorry district court and appellate court cases, that have found that the discrimination on the basis of gender identity, and the discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, are covered under the definition of sex on the basis of sex, there's essentially a split in the circuits. That's what that's what it called when basically different regions of the country, disagree about how law is going to be interpreted. So, for example. In the eleventh circuit, which is based in Atlanta. They said that laws do not that these laws, do not protect sex discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. And then other circuits have said that they do, and then in the six circuit, which is based in Cincinnati. They said that transgender people are protected, but other circuits have said that they don't so the court system that we have is very, I guess, diverse and regional, and so different courts decide issues, different ways, and then it would go all the way to the supreme court and the supreme court decides okay, if there's a split in these different circuits, how is how is this going to be interpreted ones? This premium court decides, then the question is essentially over, and then all of the different circuits must interpret based on the supreme court precedent. So it's very important, what they decide coming up, but I think there's a really robust argument and many of the lower courts have said, yes, of course gender. If someone is, is discriminating against a transgender person, of course, this is discrimination on the basis of sex, and should very clearly be covered under our constitution. And then, of course, if the if the court decision comes out as either neutral or positive for us that being people who support equality than I think that will have a lot of implication for how this phrase on the basis of sex will be interpreted, once we have the eagle rights moment, and whether or not that will include transgender people. I think it's, it's pretty clear that that's the trend of where the courts are going. And I really really hope for a positive outcome in these upcoming three cases. But yes, I think that because again, it's this neutral, phrase on the basis of sex that it can include not just women. But all marginalized genders. While the constitution says nothing about deadlines. For amendments congress put a deadline on the equal rights amendment when it was passed in nineteen seventy two I am here to appeal to you to remove the nineteen eighty-two deadline placed on congress for the ratification of the just because we women didn't achieve fully quality in America by nineteen seventy eight or by nineteen eighty two doesn't mean they shouldn't have it today. There's a groundswell in this country women are being elected in record numbers. Women are rising up by the millions and saying, they will not be sexually assaulted. They will not be paid less. They will not be treated as subhuman, and they will have their voices heard some people think women do have constitutional protections because of the fourteenth amendment. But one asked about this supreme court Justice, Antonin Scalia said, certainly the constitution doesn't require discrimination on the basis of sex. The question is whether it. Prohibits, it, it doesn't. So a recent supreme court Justice interpreted the constitution as saying it did not prohibit discrimination on the basis of sets, so whether you agree with them or not the factor. Maine's this is how recent supreme court Justice interpreted women's rights in our constitution. And this is why we need to amend the constitution and leave no room to question. If women have full constitutional equality because women's protections cannot be left to interpretation alone. People accused the left of being very scattered and long. No long-term vision. No plan. What is it concretely that we want for the women's movement? The equal rights amendment has to be our long game. It has to be the thing that we all agree is going to put us into the constitution and is going to be the anchor from which we defend our rights for the next hundred years. That's our long game. Okay. Can you just explain to everybody? What the process is moving forward in the time line. Like what, what happens next? What happens next is we have two bills before congressman right now, one is Jackie speier's, which removes the time limit congress put in a time limit that time limit expired. But if we can put in the time limit we can remove it, and we have constitutional scholars who say that we will prevail at the supreme court. The opposition says that. That there was a time limit and therefore you have to start all over again. So I introduced a Bill that goes back and starts all over again. In other words, all of our bases are covered. We either win with the three steak solution, adding three more states and lifting the time. Limit are we go back and start all over again, which I think will be a much easier task than what the women face before us because we've already gotten thirty eight states or thirty seven states to ratify it. It would then be voted out of the out of the, the, the committee would go to the floor of congress be debated. It would pass the floor of congress, go to the Senate go through the judiciary committee, passed the Senate, go to the president for his signature and, and for removing the time limit, but we. We are. We are saying, and believing that if we just get one more state to ratify, which we believe will be Virginia then than it is ratified. And it then goes by law to the archivist of the country, he is a gentleman who was appointed by President Obama, and he could then claim and say that it it's, it's ratified, it's part of our constitution. He has decided that he's more of a functionary and appointed. So his written, the Justice department to ask them what he should do. If the ratification comes in any event, it will either be ratified, where we will claim. It's ratified it will then be sued by opposition. And in in, we'll go eventually to the supreme court. If you any institution, it has been written since nineteen fifty he will find in it. The statement that men and women are equal before, so I have three granddaughters. I'd like to be able to take out my pocket constitution and say that the equal citizenship. Stature of men and women is fundamental tenant of office side. Like free speech. The women equal rights to do. Whatever talent and hard work, enable, her to do like that, to be in constitution for me personally passing the air a means that I can tell my daughter that in the greatest document in all the world she has the same rights as anyone else. Oh, gosh. I can't think of anything Elissa that would be more meaningful to women. Children families in our country than than a passing. The rights amendment was more important if women have equal rights, they're protected. They've been so many supreme court cases that clearly state that we're not protected. An we can't enforce a a civil penalties for for rape, and many cases that have gone to the supreme court and, and a case that, just passed recently, which is outrageous, and I think shows fundamentally. How much it's needed, and how we're not protected. It would mean so much that I almost don't even have words because this country has never had any rights amendment. And so since we. We're fighting so hard. And I mean I just came too late. I came to it in two thousand twelve I like so many others was under the impression that we had already had one. And so, you know, there is this false sense of security right now with so many Americans thinking that we have one. So to me, it would just mean that moving forward women in this country, wouldn't necessarily have to go through what we're going through right now, when, when the Brett cavenaugh hearings were happening. I know that I and so many other women in this country were triggered and felt scared an upset. And I'm experiencing those same feelings right now, watching all of these antiabortion ban, antiabortion laws and the abortion bans, and, and these ridiculous laws that are not based on any fact at all. And so I think that understanding that there's going to be protection for future. Generations would just be all the everything I need, you know, I don't have children. But I, I have a sister and I have a niece and I. I have there are millions of women, this country that were there were let me just put it this way. There were a lot of women in the second wave who fought very hard, just like with Ellis, Paul in the first way all these women fought so hard so that you and I can have certain rights, and we could have the right to vote. And so for me, it would be meaningful that I've played a very small part in the rights movement education. It would personally be satisfying for me. But it would give me that satisfaction to know that women in the future. Generations are going to have protection that they don't necessarily have to deal with this crazy kind of atmosphere, where we're, we're, we're watching a, a man who was accused of rape going to supreme court when we're watching lawmakers. Right. All these bills that are anti women that they're passing because I was raised in such a conservative culture, and I never really saw women and men, being equal. I saw women having secondary roles I saw women being more than it. Two men. I saw women, you know, having what they call separate, but equal tasks and jobs and purpose in life. And so for me the equal rights amendment means in my own constitution, it is very clearly stated that I am equal to any other person. I am equal to any other American end so bats important from me and from a legal perspective. It creates an entirely new avenue for us to litigated for our rights for all of these incredible congresswomen, who are going are creating sees of change in our in our system. It creates an a totally new avenue from which they can pass laws to protect us. So for me the way I describe it as the equal rights amendment is, if you find a bottle, there's a genie in it, and the genie comes out, you wanna wish for women's rights, but this is basically the equal rights amendment is the equival. To wishing for thousand new wishes it's the go around is the way to say, this is what we want because from this, we can build the scaffolding to protect all of us. To me passing the air eight would mean that all people will be treated, equal at home. All people will be treated, equal in their workplace and all people will be treated equal under the United States constitution because everyone deserves to be treated equally passing of the euro would mean there is no place for gender discrimination in the United States constitution. For me, it means three things. Number one, the hope and optimism that a country based on liberty and freedom to inch closer to that promise, number two, as an American of African ancestry, one step forward for our sisters is one giant leap for all of us. And number three, that my pre civil rights mom, who went through a bunch of stuff to get her PHD and get paid respectively. Can rest in peace. A little more peacefully. Congresswoman what, what can my listeners do to help move this forward? Is there a call to action? I, I would say we have two bills in congress. Now they should ask their members of congress to cosponsor them that gives more weight, and their senators to cosponsor them, both bills are sponsored by Menendez. My Bill sponsored by Menendez in the Senate, and Ben Cardin is carrying a Jackie speier's, but we need to get the co-sponsors. We need to move it forward and expressing their support for it to the speaker, and the minority leader of the house. The first thing we have to do is get it through the house and the Senate. But I feel that the, the energy is there that women are more energized than than we've been in generation. Nhs than we're marching protesting running for office, and more importantly of getting elected, and we're on the verge absolutely on the verge of ratifying the rights movement. My name is. Alissa. Milano. I do not have equal rights under our constitution. I have a four year old daughter named Bella. She does not have equal rights under our constitution. If my daughter, and I lived in Iceland, or Wanda, or Vietnam, we would have equal rights, under their constitutions. But we live in the United States of America, where we do not have equal rights under our own that is because for all of our country's history. It has considered people like us that is to say, people who are not white men to be second class citizens, our country has allowed those men to use our founding documents to preserve their power and privilege, while denying women protection from the consequences because again, in the United States of America, in the year, two thousand nineteen women do not have equal rights wouldn't. Agree. That's absurd. Most people don't even realize that this country which claims to be the greatest country in the world, and this document which claims to guarantee quality to all who live here, does not extend that guarantee to women. According to polls conducted by the ER a coalition eighty percent of Americans think that women already have equal rights under the constitution. They assume that provision has already there, because of course it's absurd for it not to be what's more. They think it's there because they think it should be the same polls. Tell us that ninety four percent of Americans support constitutional equality for women. My question is, who are the other six percent and to be clear that question is not a rhetorical one the text of the amendment, we propose raids. Women shall have equal rights in the United States and every place subject to its jurisdiction equality of rights under the law, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex. If you don't agree with those words, if you do not believe that women should have equal rights. I wanna know who you are. I think we all deserve to know who you are. We deserve to know who you are so that we can make the choice not to do business with you or work for you or entrust, our children to you or cast our votes for you. Listen, we are human beings fully deserving of equal protections. Equal opportunities and equal. Oh rights. And I believe we have finally gotten the message across when we are treated as anything less. We deserve equal recourse. We have waited hundreds of years for this moment. But if we want to ensure it is a beginning, not an end, we need to use it to launch a new era for the equal rights amendment by enshrining are equal rights in the United States constitution, the ERA would guarantee women are protected by the full force of federal law, bypassing an equal rights amendment. It would for the first time in our country's history open a pathway toward true, gender equality. The ER a would set a norm for equal pay for equal work. So that women can be full economic actors in our society. It would protect pregnant women from discrimination, so that we do not have to make. The impossible choice between earning a paycheck and having a family between making a living and living in our own bodies. It would require states to enforce laws against gender violence. So that police can no longer turn their backs on women like Jessica Lenihan or girls like her daughters whose deaths were preventable, and who's heartbreaking story reminds us of the cost of our inaction. For all of these reasons for all of these women for Jessica's daughters for all of our daughters. We cannot afford to wait any longer ratifying, the ERA would be a statement of principle. It would send a message to our daughters. It would send a message to our son's, it would send a message to every state in the country, and it would send a message to the world, these rights our our birthright but enshrining them in the constitution is our responsibility. That's because in a democracy, progress doesn't happen, automatically democracy requires action by us because at the end of the day, it is. Us. In seventeen seventy six year our country declared independence, Abigail Adams wrote to her husband, John urging him to when member ladies to be fair to us as he helped write the new code of laws for a new nation today, two hundred forty two years later, we no longer have to wait for anyone else to grant us our rights, we are standing up for each other. We are marching in streets. We are the ones holding the pen you and I are lucky that we get to be the ones to live through this new era. But with that comes responsibility to ensure this moment lives up to its promise. My name is Alissa Milano, and I do not have equal rights under our country's constitution. And I'm part of a movement, that's not going anywhere until the foundational document of our country. Insists loudly and clearly to us and to the world that women shall have equal rights in the United States and every place subject to its jurisdiction, and until we are promised once and for all that equality of rights under the law, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex. Do you think that you deserve the same protection as little boys? Right. Are you are girls and boys? Equal. Yes. That's right. I would even say that you are faster than most of the boys on your baseball team. You're pretty fast. You can do anything you make me proud. Sorry, not sorry as -secutive produced by sim Sar. Not a Milano. That's me, our supervising producer is Ellison bresnik. It's edited by Josh Windisch, our production, associate is Danielle Silva music by Josh Cooke, and Alicia equal, please describe on apple podcasts Spotify, or wherever you get your podcast. And if you like the show, please rate, review and spread the word, sorry, not sorry.