WASHINGTON – Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) called on Congress to approve a constitutional amendment that would guarantee equal rights for women.
“We are all unified in calling, finally, for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment in our constitution,” Maloney said at a news conference outside the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, accompanied by actress Alyssa Milano and fellow women’s rights activists.
“Lack of recognition of women’s equality in our constitution perpetuates this idea that women are less than, which then can lead to unequal treatment, abuses of power, sexual harassment and assault,” Milano said. “The ERA will prevent protection laws from being repealed and women’s progress from being rolled back,” she added.
The Equal Rights Amendment was first introduced in 1921. It calls for the end of legal covenants said to favor men in divorce, employment, property and other venues.
To be adopted, the ERA must receive the support of two-thirds of both the House and Senate as well as ratification by 38 states. Thirty-seven states have ratified the ERA. Congress historically has been reluctant to take up the issue.
The group will hold a mock hearing later this afternoon to protest congressional inaction.
The push for action comes as the MeToo movement has engulfed Capitol Hill.
Several lawmakers were forced to resign after allegations of sexual harassment or improprieties surfaced. Those resignations included Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) as well as Reps. John Conyers (D-Mich.), Blake Farenthold (R-Texas), Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) and Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.).
Rep. Ruben Kihuen (D-Nev.) has been accused of sexual misconduct and is not seeking re-election. Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) has been accused of sexual harassment. They have denied the allegations.