On Thursday, The House of Representatives voted to remove the ratification deadline of the Equal Rights Amendment, in a 232-183 vote; only five Republicans crossed party lines to support the measure. The move, theoretically, helps revive the ERA’s chances of becoming an official constitutional amendment, which were renewed after Virginia became the 38th state to ratify the amendment in January, arguably providing the final votes needed for it to pass.
The bill’s fate is likely decided; it’s most probably doomed in the Republican-majority Senate, as the people who voted for the bill are well aware. In the last few weeks alone, Republicans have managed to characterize the ERA’s potential passage into a means for the Democrats to fulfill some kind of taxpayer funded abortion wet dream. But despite the likely foregone conclusion, its passage through the House is meaningful, and congresswomen didn’t parse words as they shared their support for the amendment that would guarantee equal rights under the law regardless of sex.
Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib was one of them, and took her allotted time to express her disgust at how the conversation surrounding the ERA is one of an obsession to “control and oppress women.”
“I cannot believe in 2020 we’re still debating the merits of the Equal Rights Amendment,” Tlaib said. “It’s beyond time.”
She then laid how far the Equal Rights Amendment protects marginalized women, emphasizing that this is not just an issue for able-bodied cis-gender white women to lay claim to.
“I want you all to know this is about women of color, women with disabilities, transgender women, immigrant women, all. These women are affected by issues of unequal pay, sexual violence, lack of access for healthcare, and poverty. So much of what we’re doing here in trying to promote women’s equality is about gender, racial, and economic justice.”
She ended on a sharp note, a warning to her colleagues across the aisle: “Know this: a no vote today is condoning oppression of women in the United States of America.”
Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal said, “With our vote today and Virginia’s historic vote, little girls, their moms, and women across this great nation will now say that yes, our Constitution can, will, and must enshrine a ban on discrimination on the basis of sex.”
Strong sentiment aside, a number of challenges lie ahead, including the Republican-majority Senate and President Trump would likely reject and veto the bill, which removes the original 1979 (and later 1982) deadline that was first drafted when the ERA hit Congress in 1972. Additionally, the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel and even ERA ally Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg believe that technicalities with the ERA’s expiration and ratification suggest that the measure’s best chance of success is starting from scratch.
Several politicians are more than happy to maintain this archaic status quo, whether out of legal loopholes or political ideology, but at least Tlaib is willing to call it what it is: Complicity to a slew of wrongs.