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VIDEO: Hirono Joins Colleagues and Advocates in Calling for Congressional Action to Affirm Ratification of Equal Rights Amendment in U.S. Constitution

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) joined several of her House and Senate colleagues to introduce a bicameral resolution affirming the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), which would enshrine gender equity in the U.S. Constitution. Despite the required 38 states voting to ratify the amendment, ratification has been stalled due to an arbitrary deadline put in place when Congress passed the ERA in 1972. The members joined advocates and leaders in the fight to ratify the ERA at a press conference announcing the introduction of their resolution removing the deadline for ratification of the ERA and positively affirming that the 38-state threshold needed for ratification of the ERA has been met.

“The fight to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment within the halls of Congress began nearly one century ago, and we can’t stop the fight until it is formally published in our U.S. Constitution. This long-fought battle has a special connection to my home state of Hawaii—Hawaii was the first state to ratify the ERA,” said Senator Hirono. “Our next generation of all women, including transgender women and gender non-conforming individuals, deserve better. We cannot wait any longer to formalize the ERA.”

Currently, the Constitution does not contain any explicit protections guaranteeing equal rights for women. On March 22, 1972, Hawaii was the first state to ratify the ERA—on the same day that it passed in Congress. A seven-year time limit for ratification was implemented, requiring the amendment to be ratified by 38 states in order for it to become part of the U.S. Constitution. In 2020, Virginia became the 38th state to ratify the ERA and effectively fulfill the threshold required for the amendment to become part of the Constitution.

In addition to Senator Hirono, Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Representatives Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Madeleine Dean (D-PA), Cori Bush (D-MO), Sylvia Garcia (D-TX), Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), and Sydney Kamlager-Dove (D-CA) also spoke at the press conference. They were joined by Zakiya Thomas, President and CEO of Equal Rights Coalition; Eleanor Smeal, Co-Founder and President of the Feminist Majority; and Sasha Goodfriend of the National Organization for Women, Massachusetts Chapter (Mass NOW).

A full transcript of Senator Hirono’s remarks is below and a link to download video is available here.

Aloha, everybody. Well, I’m so happy to be here with my colleagues from the House and the Senate, and all of the advocacy groups who are here. Many of us have been working for the ratification of the ERA for a long time and 50 years ago, Congress stepped up and passed the ERA and Hawaii stepped up as the first state in the country to ratify the ERA.

All we have to do now is for Congress to step up once again. And I tell you, I hate to use words like ‘having the courage’ to enact something that is so right, but that’s what it’s going to take. Congress has to step up once again to enable this amendment to be in our Constitution—that’s all we have to do people.

And I agree with the scholars who say that if the ERA had been in effect, perhaps the Supreme Court would have had to pause before doing away with protections under Roe because they would be discriminating against a, pretty much, gender-specific medial procedure that impacts one gender. And maybe they would have had to pause if the ERA had been in our Constitution. That is why it is so important for us to do what we need to be doing.

I’m really glad that we have Dick Durbin as Chair of the Judiciary Committee because we are going to have a hearing on the right thing to do. And Ayanna, I’m so glad that you mentioned Shirley Chisholm—she was a trail blazer. I want to mention Patsy T. Mink of Hawaii, who is the mother of Title IX, gender equality, and education. But we need to promote gender equality everywhere and in every walk of life, and that’s what we’re about today. Thank you, everyone. We will continue the fight. We will get it done.