Langevin Votes to Pave Way for Equal Rights Amendment

Feb 13, 2020

WASHINGTON – Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) today voted in favor of H.J. Res. 79, 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 bill passed the House by a vote of 232-183.

The ERA passed Congress in 1972. As required by the United States Constitution, it then went to the states for ratification. Per the deadline included in the resolution, three-fourths of the states needed to ratify it before March 22, 1979; that deadline was later extended by Congress to 1982. However, the amendment received only 35 of the 38 state ratifications required before the deadline. Rhode Island ratified the amendment on April 14, 1972. Since 2017, Nevada, Illinois, and last month, Virginia, have ratified the amendment and have joined in a lawsuit demanding that the National Archives and Records Administration certify its place as the 28th Amendment. Passage of H.J. Res. 79 will clear up any legal ambiguity about the constitutionality of such a deadline in the first place and pave the way for the amendment’s inclusion as part of the Constitution.

“While the women’s suffrage movement marked a considerable step forward for women and gender equality, over 100 years later many women in our nation still face wide ranging forms of discrimination and bias,” said Langevin, an original cosponsor of the resolution. “The U.S. prides itself on being a land of liberty and equality, but the lack of constitutional safeguards to protect women’s rights explicitly means we are lagging behind our peers. Women in America continue to earn less, face discrimination on a daily basis, and experience domestic violence. Ensuring equal rights for all through the Equal Rights Amendment has garnered broad support from leaders with different backgrounds because we recognize that no American should be treated as if they are second-class citizens. By ratifying the amendment, we will underscore existing protections established by law and policy and continue the progress our nation has realized.”