Politics

ERA Can’t Get a Hearing, So Maloney Holds Her Own

New York congresswoman brings star power to bear by inviting Milano

From left, Carol Jenkins, of the Equal Rights Amendment Task Force, actress Alyssa Milano, and Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., attend a news conference at the House Triangle on the need to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney is sick of not being able to get a hearing on ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment so she hosted her own on Wednesday.

And, she brought in some star power.

Actress and activist Alyssa Milano joined Maloney and fellow Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier of California for a shadow hearing on the ERA. Milano served as a witness, as did Carol Robles-Román, ERA Coalition co-president, and Jessica Lenahan, the plaintiff in the Supreme Court case Castle Rock v. Gonzales.

Since Maloney was first elected in 1992, she has re-introduced the Equal Rights Amendment 11 times. It would prohibit denying or abridging equal rights because of gender. 

“In all those years, there has not been one hearing in either the House or the Senate on this important, important issue to half the population in America. That’s what we’re doing here today, we’re saying to Congress, ‘Time’s up,’” Maloney said. “We demand to be heard, even if we have to hold our own hearing.”

She cited data on the issue.

“We need to take matters into our own hands because Congress is not listening to the American people,” Maloney said. “Over 94 percent of Americans have stated in polls that they are in support of women having equal rights in our constitution yet we cannot even get a hearing. So we are holding our own.”

Speier noted that the ERA has been introduced in every Congress since former Rep. Alice Paul introduced it for the first time 92 years ago.

“We’re asking for 24 words to be added to the Constitution of the United States…all it says is that to not discriminate based on sex,” Speier said.

UNITED STATES - JUNE 6: Actress Alyssa Milano, right, hugs Jessica Lenahan, a domestic violence survivor, during a news conference at the House Triangle on the need to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment on June 6, 2018. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Milano hugs Jessica Lenahan, a domestic violence survivor. They were both witnesses at the shadow hearing. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Maloney noted that both “famous and infamous women” are calling for the ratification of the equal rights amendment and thanked Milano for “using her star voice to shine the light on women’s rights and empowerment.”

“I am here because women are not guaranteed equal justice,” Milano said. “We are still fighting for this belief that equal is equal.”

Milano gave a voice to the #MeToo movement on social media — she was the first to use the hashtag and encouraged women to use it to share their own stories.

“Lack of recognition of women’s equality in our constitution perpetuates this idea that women are less than, which then leads to the unequal treatment, abuses of power, sexual harassment and assault,” she said.

Milano added, “Women came together over the last year to say ‘Me too.’ We supported each other, we held men accountable by saying ‘Time’s up.’ Well, I’m here today to say the time is now to pass the ERA so that all citizens of our country have the opportunity to reach their full potential.”

For the ERA to be adopted, it must be ratified by 38 states. Illinois last week became the 37th  to ratify it.

Watch: Former USA Gymnastics President Pleads the Fifth on Abuse Questions

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.