Sundi Rose
April 13, 2015 11:35 am

The fight for equality bring together the most unlikely of allies, and right now two women in the US Congress are making sure their political differences don’t get in the way of the fight for equal rights for women.

Representatives Carolyn Maloney (D, NY) and Cynthia Lummis (R, Wyo.) are working very, very closely together. What are they working on? Drumming up support and attention for the Equal Rights Amendment that would, according to CNN “explicitly protect women’s rights and prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex — in the U.S. Constitution.” Are you thinking, “wow I can’t believe this didn’t already exist?” Yeah, we were too.

The ERA legislation (which basically just asks for the protection of women’s equal rights to be included in that most important of American documents) was first introduced in 1923 and passed in Congress in 1972. However, when it was sent for ratification in 1982, only 35 of the necessary 38 states ratified it, failing to allow enactment. This means that it has been proposed and authorized by Congress, but that it hasn’t gained enough traction among the states to be fully instituted into the Constitution. Which is seriously sad.

The vote in 1982 was pretty close, but not quite enough to move it forward, so Rep. Maloney, has been reintroducing it every session since 1997. Seriously, hats off to her! Recently she’s enlisted the help of an unlikely emissary, Rep. Lummis, a proud Republican from Wyoming, in hopes of garnering enough bipartisan support to push it through the ratification process.

Even though the representatives’ backgrounds and motivation for the amendment are totally different, they are crossing party lines, working together, and doing the right thing to secure equality for women. Lummis told CNN, “The key here is just reminding people that equal rights have to be fought for, sought and obtained in writing.” Likewise, Maloney believes, “If we don’t do it, who else is going to do it. The best legislation is always bipartisan.”

Both women are raising daughters and have had long political careers, so they are no strangers to women’s issues. Maloney has been fighting for this particular amendment for almost 20 years, and remembers a time when, “ you [as a woman] couldn’t get credit in your own name.” It wasn’t all that long ago, she told CNN, that women were dying from getting illegal back-alley abortions and jobs were listed separately for men and women in the classifieds. This serves as an important reminder that, “You can have rights, and they can be taken away.”

Even though Lummis doesn’t share all of Maloney’s ideologies, she realizes the value of this bill for all Americans. Hailing from Wyoming, the first state to grant women the right to vote, her push to revive the ERA is, “is very much in keeping with Wyoming’s history, its tradition and its commitment to equality.” She, unlike Maloney is staunchly pro-life, but believes equality needs to be a separate conversation from controversial issues like abortion and reproductive rights.

She admits, “It’s a heavier lift for me in that the Republican Party and its platform and many of its elected members are pro-life, but she adds . . . I’m not the least bit afraid of this legislation, and I’m happy to work with them to ensure that this is not intended in any way to expand abortion rights.”

CNN also reports that, as of April 1, the bill has 111 co-sponsors with another 25 lined-up to come on board once its been confirmed. Maloney hopes to start the process from scratch, doing away with silly deadlines that only bog down the process.

Lawmakers insist that there isn’t much opposition; that whatever works, they’ll take.

This is incredibly encouraging news, and Lummis summed up the entire endeavor in one inspirational thought, “When women are out of poverty, their families are out of poverty, their children, their husbands, their significant others are out of poverty . . . Why wouldn’t we want their tide lifted? They’ll lift the entire economy.”

This is our fight. Let’s help them to win it.

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