WASHINGTON, D.C. — Immediately after the U.S. House voted to retroactively remove the Equal Rights Amendment’s (ERA) 1979 ratification deadline, House Republicans joined Independent Women’s Voice (IWV) for a press call to discuss their opposition to the misnamed ERA and the threats it would pose to women.
House Minority Whip Steve Scalise and Reps. Debbie Lesko, Carol Miller, Vicky Hartzler, Beth Van Duyne, Michelle Fischbach, and Virginia Foxx joined the call. Inez Stepman, Independent Women’s Voice senior policy analyst, and Jennifer C. Braceras, Independent Women’s Law Center (IWLC) director, also joined.
Inez Stepman, senior policy analyst at IWV, detailed how the ERA would potentially change hundreds of laws put in place to protect women:
“Women rely on the legal recognition of our biological sex for a lot of our opportunities, for our privacy, and sometimes even for our safety. The ERA would make all women’s programs, sports teams, locker rooms, and even prisons co-ed. There are potentially hundreds of laws that recognize that reality, that while we’re equal, men and women are simply not exactly the same or interchangeable in every possible instance.”
Jennifer C. Braceras, IWLC director, then explained the legal case against the expired ERA:
“62% of today’s voters were either not yet born or too young to vote, the last time the ERA was considered. And that is why it is illegitimate for Congress to attempt to remove the deadline that it imposed back in the 1970s, and to bootstrap ratifications from last century to a handful of ratifications today and then claim that this amendment is part of the Constitution. Today’s voters must have an opportunity to weigh-in on whether this amendment is necessary, and, on whether the potential costs, as my colleague Inez Stepman touched upon, outweigh the benefits to today’s women.”
Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-AZ) added that the ERA died back in 1979 when it was not ratified by ¾ (38) of U.S. states:
“First of all, this is unconstitutional. As you’ve said, the deadline [to ratify the ERA] was in 1979. Okay, but only 35 states ratified it then. And so, Congress extended the deadline to 1982 but no other states joined in; thus, the ERA was dead.”
House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) reminded that the vote total for the ERA was the lowest number of votes the ERA has received in 50 years::
“This was the lowest vote total, of the worst vote total, that the ERA has had on the House floor in the last 50 years. So, that shows you that support for this bill is declining with a record number of Republican women in the House. You saw a very, very overwhelming vote against this from our side. In fact, if you look at the vote, the ERA came up 62 votes short of the necessary two-thirds vote requirement to change the Constitution.”
Rep. Carol Miller (R-WV) discussed how the ERA would replace equality with sameness:
“Even though men and women are created equally, we are definitely not the same. The ERA disregards the unique characteristics of women and girls by eliminating the safe spaces for women and making it impossible for the law to recognize situations where women and girls’ unique needs really do matter.”
Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) expanded upon Rep. Miller’s comments by talking about the ways in which the ERA will discriminate against women:
“The ERA is an outdated piece of legislation that won’t add to the rights already guaranteed by the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause, but it could jeopardize them. And I’m very concerned about how it could jeopardize them. It could make it discriminatory to offer benefits to women not offered to men, such as women’s scholarships could be on the chopping block, as well as women colleges, job protections for pregnant women, [and] safe spaces.”
Rep. Beth Van Duyne (R-TX) argued that the ERA would set back all the progress women in America have made in recent decades:
“If enacted, the ERA would have countless unintended consequences by superseding and effectively eliminating statutes designed to protect women as you’ve already heard on this call. I cannot and will not support legislation that hinders the progress that women have made in this country.”
Rep. Michelle Fischbach (R-MN) explained that women do not need the ERA and that women’s equality is already protected under the law:
“I don’t believe that women need a constitutional amendment to tell us we are equal. The Constitution and federal law already provide equal protection for all Americans.”
The final speaker, Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), closed the call by discussing how she has spent her career fighting for women’s rights—and how the Equal Rights Amendment will not protect women any more than they already are:
“You know, as a woman who has worked all her life, and I’m in my seventies now, often in male-dominated professions, I detest and condemn discrimination in any form…. What the Left won’t acknowledge is that there’s already legal equality between men and women in America. Whether it’s the 14th Amendment, the 19th Amendment, or federal and state laws, women are already protected from sex discrimination. The Equal Rights Amendment is not a novel idea, nor will it protect women more than they are now under current law.”
To listen to the full audio or read the transcript from the press call, click HERE.
Independent Women’s Voice fights for women and families by effectively expanding support among women, independents, and millennials for policy solutions that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance freedom, opportunities, and well-being.