ENDWELL, NY (WSKG) — Democrats have once again introduced legislation that would move to restart the process of ratifying a constitutional amendment specifically codifying equal protection based on gender in the U.S. Constitution, but only one Republican is cosponsoring the measure.
Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY), whose upstate district includes the Village of Seneca Falls, the location of the first women’s rights convention in 1848, continues to be one of a few House Republicans who have publicly backed the Equal Rights Amendment.
“We have a rich legacy of the women’s rights movement in America and I think it is appropriate that the constitution is clear, that women and men are created equally,” Reed said. “I think it is appropriate that the constitution is clear that women and men are created equally under the constitution and we have equal rights.”
Reed is the only Republican co-sponsor out of 96 total on legislation reintroduced by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) that would restart the ratification process on what would be the 28th amendment to the constitution.
Last year, Virginia became the 38th state to pass language in support of an Equal Rights Amendment, though this was much later than the original timeline set up by congress as part of the last major ratification effort in the 1970’s.
Democrats had attempted to pass a bill that would have removed the timetable from the 70’s, thus approving the amendment. Reed was one of five Republicans who voted in favor of that move last year and continues to cosponsor a similar bill in this congress.
While courts have generally held that the Fourteenth Amendment covers gender-based and sex-based discrimination, advocates for the ERA argue that nowhere in the constitution does it mention that explicitly. This would then provide a stricter grounds for legal interpretation in cases of discrimination.
Republican support for the measure has moved back and forth over the years. Several statehouses passed their ratification measures with broad bipartisan support, though that appears to have dried up in Congress as of late.
“To be perfectly honest with you, I do not understand the objection to recognizing the Equal Rights Amendment as part of the constitution,” Reed said.