Langevin Backs Landmark Gender Equality Bills

Mar 17, 2021

WASHINGTON - Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) today announced that he will vote in favor of two landmark gender equality bills to be considered by the House later today. Langevin will support H.R. 1620, the 2021 Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and H.J. Res. 17, legislation that would remove the deadline for states to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) designed to ensure that the “equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State on account of sex.”

“The ratification of the ERA and the reauthorization of VAWA are both long overdue,” said Langevin. “These bills are another step in the long journey towards gender equality in America. We have come far, but at a time when one in three women still experience gender-based violence in their lifetimes and more than 40 percent of women can expect to experience gender-based discrimination in the workplace, we are clearly not finished. As Americans, we pride ourselves on living in the land of opportunity, but women, and especially women of color, do not always have equal access to the opportunities that we cherish, and it is time for that to change. I am proud to join my colleagues in fighting to secure legal protections and additional community-based resources for women who experience violence and discrimination.”

In 1972, Congress passed the ERA and sent the amendment to the states for ratification. Per the Constitution and the deadline included in the original resolution, three-fourths of the states needed to ratify the ERA before March 22, 1979 - which Congress later extended to 1982. When only 35 of the 38 required states had ratified by 1982, progress on the final ratification of the ERA was stalled. In 2020, Virginia became the 38th state to ratify the ERA, 28 years after its original passage. H.J. Res. 17 will pave the way for the ERA to finally be included as the 28th Amendment to the United States Constitution by clearly accepting the three ratifications that have occurred since the original deadline.

In 1994, Congress passed VAWA to improve legal and community-based responses to domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking in the United States. Reauthorized in 2000, 2005, and 2013, VAWA has been expired since 2019. This reauthorization will provide funding for rape crisis centers and domestic violence shelters, invest in violence prevention programs, protect survivors of dating violence from firearm homicides by closing the “boyfriend loophole,” and end impunity for non-Native perpetrators accused of sexual assault on tribal lands. H.R. 1620 will support women and families by expanding the resources available to survivors of gender-based violence.

Both bills are expected to pass the House today before moving to the Senate for consideration.