For the second year in a row, Arizona House Democrats used the “ninja parliamentary move” to force a vote to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). For the second year in a row, House Republicans chose to hide under their desks– rather than making history by ratifying the ERA.
In 2017, two Republican women, Reps. Michelle Ugenti-Rita and Heather Carter, voted for women’s rights, along with all of the House Democrats. For the 2018 vote, Ugenti-Rita and Carter were missing in action.
Zero Republicans voted for equal pay or equal rights for women.
The AZ Blue Meanie did a great recap of the ERA debate and collected coverage from other outlets. You can read it here: GOP Legislators Reject Equal Rights for Women Because Abortion (Updated).
Below the fold are the text of my speech urging ratification of the ERA and a video.
Mr. Speaker, I wanted to explain my vote. I wanted to clarify that a vote for this substitute amendment to recess is really an up or down vote on the Equal Rights Amendment.
As Governor Ducey noted in his state of the state address this year, Arizona has a progressive legacy when it comes to women’s equality.
In 1912, Arizona gave women the right to vote—eight years before the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution gave the rest of the women in the US the right to vote and to hold public office.
In 1932, Arizona’s sole delegate to the US House of Representatives was Congresswoman Isabella Greenway.
In 1973, State Senator Sandra Day O’Connor became the first woman to serve as majority leader of any state legislature, and in 1981, she became the first woman to be appointed to the US Supreme Court.
In the 1990s, Arizona elected Governor Jane Hull and four other women to run the state government.
In 2017, Arizona earned the honor of being the state with the highest percentage of women legislators. Women comprise 40% of the Arizona Legislature.
Today, Arizona has the opportunity to make history again by voting to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment.
The ERA was originally proposed in 1923. Almost 50 years later, in 1972, the ERA passed both houses of Congress and was sent to the states for ratification. The ratification deadline expired in 1982. The ERA fell three states short of the 38 states it needed to become an amendment to the US Constitution. Arizona is one of the 15 states that never ratified the ERA, despite efforts in the 1970s by then State Senator Sandra Day O’Connor.
Although the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was signed into law by President Obama, it has no teeth without the ERA. Nearly 100 years after the ERA was initially proposed, women at all income levels still make 77 cents on the dollar compared to men, and women of color make even less due to the intersectionality of race, class, and gender.
For those of you who may think that American woman have equality and that the ERA is unnecessary, let me quote former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia: “Certainly the Constitution does not require discrimination on the basis of sex. The only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn’t.”
The Equal Rights Amendment is a simple, one-sentence statement, but it could have a profound impact on the women of Arizona and on the state’s economy. The ERA reads:
Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State on account of sex.
Hundreds of women came to the Capitol this year to meet with you and urge you to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. Protesters showed up outside on the lawn, in the gallery, and in the committee meetings.
Arizona women want equal pay for equal work.
Arizona women want equal protection under the US Constitution.
Arizona women want passage of the Equal Rights Amendment.
Today is Equal Pay Day. Let’s join together today to tell the women of Arizona that we value them and their work.
Let’s make history and become the next state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. Nevada ratified the ERA in March 2017. The Illinois Legislature will be debating and voting on the ERA this week.
Illinois and Arizona could give the ERA the votes it needs for ratification. Every amendment that has been ratified by the states has become an amendment to the US Constitution.
There’s no time limit on equality.
Now is the time for the Equal Rights Amendment.