Robert Menendez

US Senator for New Jersey
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Menendez Reintroduces Equal Rights Amendment and Bill to Honor Alice Paul

“Alice Paul broke through the first glass ceiling, paving the way for women to keep going”

March 5, 2013

WASHINGTON  – In recognition of Women’s History Month, the Centennial Anniversary of the Women’s Suffrage Parade in Washington, D.C., and the upcoming International Women’s Day, U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) today reintroduced the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the Constitution as well as legislation to award its original author, New Jersey native and renowned suffragette Alice Paul, with a Congressional Gold Medal.

“One hundred years ago this week, Alice Paul helped organize the Women’s Suffrage Parade, which marked a turning point in the struggle for women’s right to vote,” said Senator Menendez.  “In honor of Alice Paul’s work, and to ensure that every right guaranteed to me under our Constitution is also unquestionably guaranteed to all women, I have reintroduced the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution.  Engraved in the face of the Supreme Court are the words ‘Equal Justice Under the Law’.  It is long past time our Constitution enshrine that same philosophy of justice and equality for women.  This will only happen with the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.”

In addition to renewing his call for the ERA, Menendez introduced a resolution to posthumously award Alice Paul the Congressional Gold Medal to recognize her outstanding political achievements on behalf of women in the 20th century. Currently, the resolution has four cosponsors: Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).

Ms. Paul started the National Woman's Party and was instrumental in the passage of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution. Even after the 19th Amendment was ratified, Ms. Paul drafted the Equal Rights Amendment in 1923 and fought tirelessly for its passage until her death 54 years later. 

Senator Menendez has been carrying on Ms. Paul’s fight for an Equal Rights Amendment since his first term in Congress in 1993. This is the third consecutive Congress in which Senator Menendez is the lead sponsor of the ERA in the Senate, taking over the role from the late Senator Ted Kennedy.

Currently, the following Senators are original cosponsors of the ERA: Mark Begich (D-AK), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Carl Levin (D-MI), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

The ERA is a constitutional amendment which would prohibit denying or abridging equal rights under law by the United States or any state on account of sex. It was first introduced in 1923 as the “Lucretia Mott Amendment”. After Congressional passage in 1972, 35 states ratified the amendment, falling just three states short of the 38 necessary for ratification.

A few of the ways this critical amendment would guarantee the equal rights of men and women is by:

• Clarifying the legal status of sex discrimination for the courts, by making sex a suspect category subject to strict judicial scrutiny, as race, religion, and national origin currently are;

• Guaranteeing equal footing for women in the legal systems of all 50 states;

• Ensuring that government programs and federal resources benefit men and women equally.


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