The Biden administration on Thursday threw its support behind a Senate vote on the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) planned for this week, 100 years after the measure was first introduced.
“In the United States of America, no one’s rights should be denied on account of their sex,” the White House said in a statement of administration policy. “It is long past time to definitively enshrine the principle of gender equality in the Constitution. Gender equality is not only a moral issue: the full participation of women and girls across all aspects of our society is essential to our economic prosperity, our security, and the health of our democracy.”
Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Monday that the Senate would hold a vote on the ERA this week, citing a slew of recent developments threatening women’s rights, such as the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and an ongoing court fight over access to abortion medication.
The ERA would guarantee equal rights under the law regardless of sex. The measure was first introduced in 1923. In 1972, it was passed by both chambers of Congress and sent to the states for ratification.
However, Congress set a deadline that the amendment be ratified by the necessary three-fourths — or 38 — of the states by 1979. It voted to extend the deadline until 1982, but only 35 states ultimately ratified the amendment.
After Nevada and Illinois ratified the ERA in 2017 and 2018, Virginia became the 38th state to approve the amendment in 2020.
The bill heading to the Senate floor this week would remove the original deadline for ratification of the ERA and recognize it as “valid to all intents and purposes as part of the Constitution.”