March 28 (UPI) — In an effort to address pay gaps, abortion access and LGBTQ rights, a multiracial caucus of congresswomen in Washington, D.C., has announced plans to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment as the 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
The Congressional Caucus for the ERA, which would guarantee that “equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex,” was launched Tuesday by co-chairs and Democratic founders, Reps. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Cori Bush of Missouri.
“It is time that Congress centers the people who stand to benefit the most from the gender equality we’re talking about, including Black and brown women, the LGBTQ+ community, people seeking abortion care and other marginalized groups,” Bush told reporters outside of the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday.
“We’re here because because from the start, people like me and many of my constituents were intentionally written out of our nation’s founding document,” Bush added. “The absence of foundational equality allows discrimination to persist and injustice to fester.”
Reps. Jennifer McClellan, D-Va.; Judy Chu, D-Calif.; Sydney Kamlager-Dove, D-Calif.; and Summer Lee, D-Pa., also will serve as vice chairs on the caucus.
It has been more than 50 years since the U.S. Senate passed the ERA, paving the way for it to become the 28th Amendment to the Constitution after it was introduced to Congress 100 years ago.
Today, the amendment is still not affirmed because Congress set a deadline of 1982 for 38, or three-quarters of the states, to ratify it. In 2020, Virginia became the final state to ratify the ERA, with the help McClellan, but it was after the deadline had passed 40 years earlier.
On Tuesday, Pressley honored the contributions of Black women, who have fought for equal rights, during a speech on the House floor.
“As Black women, who have earned the right to be members of this august body, we find ourselves at the intersection of both race and gender,” Pressley told lawmakers. “For centuries, the contributions of Black women have been excluded from the narrative and marginalized in history. But not today.”
“It is long past time the Constitution affirms our equality and our very existence in the eyes of the law,” Pressley added.
“The ramifications run deep, as women face daily sexism, pregnancy discrimination, pay inequities, sexual violence and persistent legislated attacks on our bodily autonomy. We need the ERA now.”