“While it’s true that women have made great progress in eroding sex discrimination in the past 38 years, we’ve seen that progress can all too easily be rolled back,” Maloney said. “Laws can be repealed and judicial attitudes can shift. For the past several years, we’ve had to fight long and hard just to hold on to rights we thought we’d already won.”
The ERA was first passed in Congress in 1972, but was stalled when it went to the states for ratification. The amendment would make bar gender from being the basis of discrimination, similar to the ways that it is unconstitutional to discriminate against someone on the basis of race, religion, or national origin.
Backers say that the measure is more necessary than ever, pointing to Justice Antonin Scalia’s comments that the Constitution does not protect against gender discrimination.
In the year 2011, it is truly an embarrassment for our nation that we still do not have gender equality enshrined in our Constitution,” Nadler said. “This profound omission undermines our standing as a nation committed to freedom and equality for all. The Equal Rights Amendment will stand as an explicit bulwark of freedom and equality that even Justice Scalia, and regressive forces in the Congress, will not be able to ignore.”
The duo were joined by a number of leading lights of the feminist movement, including Elizabeth Holtzmann, Lily Ledbetter, and Donna Zaccaro Ullman, daughter of Geraldine Ferraro.