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Washington, D.C. - Today, U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (AL-07) voted in favor of H.J. Res. 17, a joint resolution to remove a deadline previously set by Congress for the States to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). Sewell is also a co-sponsor of the bipartisan measure, which passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 222-204.

“A vote for the ERA is a vote for equality, and I was proud today to vote to remove the arbitrary time limit for the ratification of this seminal legislation,” said Rep. Sewell. “Not only would the ERA eliminate laws and policies that harm women and perpetuate inequality, but it would also help fill gaps in existing protections. It’s beyond time that equality for women is enshrined in our founding document, and the removal of the ratification deadline would take a critical step toward ensuring that the ERA becomes the 28th Amendment to our Constitution.”

Background on ERA

The Equal Rights Amendment states: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State on account of sex.” It would affirm women’s equality in the Constitution – enshrining the principle of women’s equality and an explicit prohibition against sex discrimination.

The ERA was first proposed in 1923, shortly after women gained the right to vote. The ERA that passed the House and Senate with bipartisan majorities in 1971 and 1972 originally had a clause requiring it be ratified by 1979. That deadline was later extended before it expired. By the end of 1982, 35 of the 38 required state legislatures had voted to ratify the ERA. Nevada ratified the ERA in 2017, Illinois in 2018 and, in January 2020, Virginia became the 38th and final state required to ratify it. If passed in the Senate, H.J. Res. 79 would remove the arbitrary 1982 deadline and take a critical step toward ensuring the ERA officially becomes the 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

There is broad support from organizations representing millions of Americans for this resolution including the ERA Coalition, the National Organization for Women, the YWCA, the League of Women Voters, the National Women’s Law Center, the American Association of University Women, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Feminist Majority, GLAAD, National Association of Women Lawyers, the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence, National Network to End Domestic Violence, National Urban League, Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN), TIME’S UP Now, Women’s Media Center, the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce, among others. 

A bipartisan Senate companion resolution was introduced by Sens. Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).

H.J. Res. 17 is available here.