Murkowski, Cardin introduce legislation to ratify Equal Rights Amendment

Alaska U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski at the bipartisan announcement of a two-part $908 billion coronavirus relief package.

Alaska U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski joined Maryland Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin today to introduce a resolution that would lead to the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment, a proposed constitutional amendment to guarantee women the same rights and protections as men. 

The measure would remove the deadline to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, which was first proposed in 1972 but stalled without the support of enough states by the time the deadline passed in 1982. The amendment got renewed support in 2017, when it was passed by Nevada and Illinois followed suit in May 2018. The amendment reached its necessary 38th state last year when Virginia ratified the amendment.

The Democrat-led U.S. House has already passed a measure to extend the deadline, not an unusual measure with constitutional amendments, but it was never brought up for a vote in the Senate under now-former Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. With Democratic control of the Senate, Murkowski said it is finally time for the Senate to pass the measure. 

“As we begin a new Congress, I can think of no better legislation to lead with than one that removes impediments to find ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment—an amendment that firmly embeds in law equality between men and women,” Murkowski said in a prepared statement. “We first moved the ERA through Congress back in 1972, but we stalled out on certification by the states until last year when Virginia ratified the ERA. After years of work alongside Senator Cardin, I urge my colleagues to join us in ensuring equality for all.” 

Murkowski has long been a supporter of ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment, penning several editorials including a 2019 one for the Washington Post where she wrote “Women should not be held back or provided less opportunity, respect or protections under the law because of their gender. This is not a partisan issue but one of universal human rights. Gender equality should be an explicit, basic principle of our society.” 

Cardin said most people are likely surprised to find out that equal protections for women are not already part of the U.S. Constitution, and called the lack of protections “unacceptable.” 

“There should be no time limit on equality. Even as we celebrate America’s first female Vice President, our nation is held back as the only modern constitution that fails to enshrine full equality for both men and women. This is unacceptable,” said Senator Cardin. “Most Americans are surprised to learn that the ERA is not already part of the U.S. Constitution. The states have done their job to make this happen. Now Congress must finally do its job and remove any legal obstacles to certifying the ERA.”

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