Arizona House Democrats made a substitute motion to suspend the rules and bring HCR2010 Ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment to an immediate vote today (May 19, 2021). Republicans have been bringing us to the floor for one or two votes for several days in a row while they work their backroom budget deals, far from watchful eyes of voters, reporters and Democrats.
The Floor drama went a bit differently than the ERA vote has in past years. The newly elected Democratic women Legislators really wanted to propose the ERA. I agreed and said it would be better if someone else made the motion, this year since they’re on to me after four years of motions. Speaker Pro Tempore Travis Grantham didn’t recognize Rep. Melody Hernandez, but a few minutes later, just as Majority Leader Ben Toma made the motion to adjourn, Grantham recognized mild mannered, former school teacher Rep. Judy Schwiebert, who rose to make a substitute motion to suspend the rules to bring HCR2010 to a vote. Republicans didn’t try to substitute her substitute motion. Consequently, we voted on the Schwiebert amendment, unlike other years. (Later Grantham said he goofed on the parliamentary procedures; Toma’s motion to adjourn should have taken precedent.)
This has been a tough year for women in the Legislature with multiple attacks on our rights, passage of the Draconian anti-abortion bill SB1457, and no additional funding for housing, maternal and child health, or Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF). In this toxic, anti-woman environment, I think it is only fitting to propose ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.
The vast majority of people living in poverty in Arizona and in the US are women and their children. Why are we purposefully shortchanging future generations by forcing working mothers to struggle to put food on the table and a roof over their heads?
Today, Arizona had the opportunity to become #39. We had the opportunity to stand up for equal pay for equal work and to stand against structural sexism and structural racism.
Instead of standing up for women’s rights and equal pay for the women of Arizona, Republicans voted in lock step with their matriarch, right-wing lobbyist Cathi Herrod of the Center for Arizona Policy. Rumor has it that Arizona Republicans have come to an agreement on a budget that includes the biggest tax cut… ever… but includes ZERO dollars for the Housing Trust fund or any other programs that would help women and children living in poverty. Arizona Republican Legislators are obviously working for Arizona’s 1% and no one else.
The ERA has been ratified by the requisite 38 states to become an amendment to the Constitution. Virginia became #38 in January 2020 after Democrats took the Legislature. (The video says 2019, but it was 2020.) At the federal level, the House of Representatives passed HR17 to eliminate the deadline on the ERA. The Equal Rights Amendment is moving forward as Arizona is marching backwards.
My Floor Speech
Here are the text of my floor speech and video in support of the ERA.
In 2020, Virginia made history by being the 38th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment and send it to Congress. In the Congress, the House of Representatives has passed HR17 to eliminate the deadline on ratification of the ERA. The ERA is moving forward.
Today, Arizona has the opportunity to be the 39th state to ratify the ERA. This body has the opportunity to tell the women of the United States that Arizona believes they deserve equal pay for equal work and equal protection under the Constitution.
The ERA is simple. It is one sentence. It reads:
Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State on account of sex.
You’ll note that the ERA includes NO mention of military service for women, no mention of gender-neutral bathrooms, and no mention of abortion. So, let’s dispense with those erroneous arguments from the 1970s and focus on what the ERA is really about.
The ERA is about economic opportunity.
It is about equal pay for equal work.
It is about equal protection under the Constitution.
It is about fighting discrimination and structural sexism in the United States. And due to the intersectionality of race, ethnicity, and gender, the ERA will not only address sexism in the US, it will take a jab at structural racism also.
Nearly 100 years after the Equal Rights Amendment was initially proposed, women at all income levels still make roughly 77 cents on the dollars compared to men, and women of color make even less.
The wage gap between men and women is dramatic, and it has narrowed only 13 cents per year since 1980. That is 3 cents per hour over 40 years. That is unacceptable. The average white woman in the US will lose half a million dollars during her lifetime because of the wage gap, BUT women of color will lose double that amount — one million dollars or more. That is a lifetime discrimination tax.
The disparity in wages not only hurts women and their families. It hurts our state’s economy, since women make up 51% of the population.
If women received equal pay for equal work and if Moms and their children were offered a quality education, THAT would be economic development. THAT investment in the future would make our state stronger.
By far most of the people living in poverty in Arizona are women and their children. Why are we shortchanging future generations by forcing working mothers to struggle to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads?
Let’s join together today to ratify the ERA. Let’s tell the women of Arizona that we value them. We value their families. And we value their work.
There is no time limit on equality.
The time is NOW for the Equal Rights Amendment in Arizona.
And with that, I vote YES on the amendment.
You can see from this long list, Arizona Republicans have been voting against women’s rights for years, and this list doesn’t include the specifically anti-woman bills they have passed!