Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand joined Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, both Democrats, and 20 other Senate colleagues last week reintroduced the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), which would amend the U.S. Constitution to guarantee women equal rights under the law.
Currently, the U.S. Constitution does not contain explicit protections for women. This introduction comes as Women’s History Month, which commemorates and honors the role of women in society, comes to a close.
The ERA states: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex — the ERA establishes within the United States Constitution the unambiguous and unassailable rights of women under the law.”
The first version of the Equal Rights Amendment was written in 1923 by Alice Paul, who also founded the National Women’s Party and was a key figure in helping to pass the 19th Amendment to give women the right to vote. The amendment passed Congress in 1972 but fell short of the 38 states required for full ratification by three states.
Other co-sponsors include Democrats Cory Booker of New Jersey, Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren, both of Massachusetts, Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, both of California, Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, both of Maryland, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith, both of Minnesota, Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Catherine Cortez Masto and Jackie Rosen, both of Nevada, Tom Carper of Delaware, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Dick Durbin of Illinois, Jeff Merkley or Oregon, and Mazie Hirono of Hawaii.