November 26, 2019

Udall Joins Bipartisan Resolution to Advance Equal Rights Amendment

As Virginia nears ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment to guarantee equal rights regardless of sex, the Senate resolution would remove the arbitrary 1982 deadline to adopt the Constitutional amendment, removing a barrier to ratification

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) joined 19 of his Senate colleagues on a bipartisan resolution to advance the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), a proposed Constitutional amendment to guarantee equal rights regardless of sex. The bipartisan resolution Udall is supporting would remove a 1982 deadline for ratification of the ERA, thereby paving the way for full and equal protections for women under the Constitution.

Thirty-seven states have already ratified the ERA, just one short of the 38 needed to adopt the amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Virginia is expected to soon become the 38th state to ratify the ERA. Once a 38th state ratifies the amendment, removing the arbitrary deadline – as this resolution does – is necessary to complete the process and ensure the amendment can be ratified in the Constitution.

The House Judiciary Committee passed a companion resolution to extend the ERA ratification deadline earlier this month. The full House is expected to vote on the resolution in December.

“Our country was founded on the promise of equality and freedom for all, but we have work to do to finish the fight,” Udall said. “Each generation has pushed us further along the path to fulfill our country’s original promises. It is now our turn, and we must remove the barriers to ratifying an amendment that our country should have adopted nearly half a century ago to ensure that women have the same legal rights as men in this nation. I urge my Senate colleagues to pass this resolution to reflect the will of the American people and affirm that each person – regardless of sex – is entitled to equal protection under the law.” 

Article V of the U.S. Constitution establishes that constitutional amendments must be proposed by Congress with a two-thirds majority, or a convention called for by two-thirds of State legislatures. Congress passed the Equal Rights Amendment in 1970 and voted to extend the ERA ratification in 1978. The ERA does not need White House approval but must be ratified by three-fourths of the states (38 out of 50).

Illinois ratified the ERA in May 2018, bringing the total number of states ratifying the amendment to 37. Only one more state is needed to adopt the ERA into the U.S. Constitution. Virginia’s legislature is expected to debate ERA ratification as soon as January 2020. Removing the 1982 deadline for ratification, as Udall’s resolution does, is necessary to complete the process once a 38th state ratifies the amendment.

In addition to Udall, the resolution was cosponsored by Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Angus King (I-Maine), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), and Jack Reed (D-R.I.).