Monday, April 16, 2012

Tell Your Senators: Support the ERA!

I received the following email from Jacqui Ceballos, the extremely amazing early NOW member and founder of Veteran Feminists of America.

On March 22, 2012, nine Senate Democrats proposed that states be given another chance to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. This is the 40th Anniversary of the Senate's passage of the ERA and the first time the Senate has ever considered an ERA bill other than the "Start-over."

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD.) and eight other Democrats proposed a joint resolution that would remove the 1982 deadline for getting 38 states to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). By 1982, the ERA had been ratified by 35 states, three short of the 38 needed to become an amendment. Cardin said that Congress "should give the states another chance," and said passage of a joint resolution by both the House and Senate extended the deadline once before, in the late 1970s.

Cardin noted that last year, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said that "certainly the Constitution does not require discrimination on the basis of sex. The only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn't."

Cardin also stated that the 27th Amendment to the Constitution, which prohibits congressional pay raises from taking effect immediately, was ratified in 1992 - 203 years after first being proposed in 1789 by James Madison.

In 1992, following passage of the 27th Amendment, the ERA Summit, a national coalition working to jump-start a new ratification effort, sought a legal analysis as to whether the ERA's time limit could be removed. The conclusion of this study: "Why the Equal Rights Amendment Remains Viable and Legally Before the States" pointed out that there was: No time limit in the Constitution, the time limit has already been changed once from 1979 to 1982 and, the ERA's time limit is in the proposing clause not the Amendment.

Therefore, it was entirely up to Congress whether or not to remove the deadline

Following this analysis, in 1993, ERA activists were successful in getting a Resolution in the US House that would authorize Congress to recognize and accept the ratification by three more states. This bill, known as the "Three-state Strategy" was introduced into every Congress through 2008. During this time, efforts were made by ERA supporters to obtain a companion bill in the US Senate but they were never successful.

In 2009, Carolyn Cook, DC Coordinator for ERA Campaign Network, authored a bill that would remove ERA's ratification deadline in support of the Three-State Strategy. Jean Landweber, WI Coordinator for ERA Campaign Network, convinced Representative Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) to sponsor the House bill HJ Res 47. It was introduced on the 100th Anniversary of International Women's Day. March 8, 2011.

Since then, Carolyn Cook worked tirelessly to get a companion bill introduced in the Senate.

SJ Res. 39 was introduced by Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) on March 22, 2012 to mark the 40th Anniversary of when both Houses of Congress first approved ERA and sent it out to the states. SJ 39 Res. is the companion bill to HJR 47.

Co-sponsors of Cardin's resolution to eliminate the ERA deadline are: Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Frank Lautenberg (DJ), Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Barbara Mikulski (MD).

Your help is needed! In order to have a hearing, more co-sponsors are needed.

Please call your senator toll free (1-877-762-8762). Ask him or her to become a co-sponsor of HJR 39. You can also email him or her at this link.

You can say:

Please co-sponsor the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). Thirty-five states have already ratified. Asking them to start over takes us all back 40 years as if the ERA had never happened. The fact that Senator Durbin, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary where an ERA hearing will be held, signed on from the beginning should be sufficient justification for you to become a co-sponsor. With the War on Women going on, it is unacceptable for our senators not to help us get a hearing for this approach to ratifying the ERA. Women and girls deserve the ERA after more than 200 years of fighting. The ERA is a matter of simple justice long overdue.

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