Congressional ERA Caucus

Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) speaks while other members of the Congressional ERA Caucus stand by outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. on March 28, 2023.

(Photo: Rep. Ayanna Pressley/Twitter)

Bush, Pressley to Co-Chair New Congressional Equal Rights Amendment Caucus

"It has been 100 years since the Equal Rights Amendment was first drafted and introduced in Congress," noted Rep. Cori Bush. "That is far too long... and we refuse to wait any longer."

A coalition of Democratic U.S. lawmakers led by Reps. Cori Bush and Ayanna Pressley on Tuesday announced the launch of a new caucus aimed at realizing the centurylong goal of adding an Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution.

"It has been 100 years since the Equal Rights Amendment was first drafted and introduced in Congress, and more than a half century since both chambers passed it," Bush (D-Mo.) said in a statement announcing the founding of the Congressional Equal Rights Amendment Caucus. "That is far too long for women, Black and Brown folks, LGBTQ+ people, and other marginalized groups to wait for constitutional gender equality—and we refuse to wait any longer."

Pressley (D-Mass.) said: "I am proud to launch the ERA Caucus with my sister-in-service Congresswoman Bush to affirm the Equal Rights Amendment as the 28th Amendment to the Constitution, establish gender equality as a national priority, and center our most vulnerable and marginalized communities, who stand to benefit the most."

Caucus member Rep. Summer Lee (D-Penn.) said that "it's not shocking that when the Constitution was first drafted, women, Black, Brown, queer, and marginalized folks were intentionally written out. What is shocking is that in 2023, our Constitution still does not include equal rights regardless of sex—meaning our Constitution still does not reflect or protect all people."

"To the right-wing politicians and judges waging a full-on assault on the rights of women and queer youth, we're not afraid and we won't be silenced," Lee added. "We're organized and mobilized to make equal rights the law of the land."

After passing the House in 1971 and the Senate the following year, the ERA was submitted to the states for ratification. Congress set a March 1979 deadline for ratification; only 35 of the requisite 38 states approved the proposal by that time. Although the deadline was extended until 1982, no more states ratified the amendment and several state legislatures voted to rescind their ratifications.

A 21st-century effort to revive the ERA saw Nevada, Illinois, and Virginia approve the measure in recent years. Supporters say 38 states have now backed the ERA, although there is uncertainty over the expired deadlines and rescinded ratifications.

Pressley's office said that in addition to affirming the ERA, the new congressional caucus will "raise awareness in Congress to establish constitutional gender equality as a national priority; partner with an inclusive intergenerational, multiracial coalition of advocates, activists, scholars, organizers, and public figures; and center the people who stand to benefit the most from gender equality, including Black and Brown women, LGBTQ+ people, people seeking abortion care, and other marginalized groups."

In a Tuesday interview with The Hill, Pressley said she was "thinking a lot about my 14-year-old daughter, Cora, and how I do not want her to continue to live in a country in a world where we have so conflated and normalized the disparate treatment and outcomes and disparate access and the second-class status it is to be a woman in this society."

"I look forward to the day when calendars will say and on this day in history, the ERA caucus was established," she added, "but I really look forward to the day when our calendars will say on this day in history, the ERA was passed."

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