Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, D-Delaware, presided over the U.S. House of Representatives on Feb. 13 as speaker pro tempore for the historic vote on the Equal Rights Amendment.
The vote on the passage of H.J. Res. 79, passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 232 to 183. Blunt Rochester voted in favor of the measure.
“It was truly an honor to serve as Speaker Pro Tempore and preside over the House during this historic vote,” said Blunt Rochester. “This vote was about a simple proposition — that all individuals, no matter their sex, are equal under the law. Today, the House of Representatives made clear that equality has no deadline.”
The ERA was first proposed in 1923 just a few years after women gained the right to vote. It was also an amendment in the Republican Party’s presidential platform as early as 1940 and was supported by both Democrats and Republicans under Presidents Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford.
The Equal Rights Amendment states, “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United State or any state on account of sex.” It would affirm women’s equality in the U.S. Constitution, enshrining the principle of women’s equality and an explicit prohibition against sex discrimination in the nation’s foundational document.
The ERA that passed the House and Senate with bipartisan majorities in 1971 and 1972 originally had a clause requiring it be ratified by 1979 which was later extended before it expired. By the end of 1982, 35 of the 38 required state legislatures had voted to ratify the ERA. Nevada ratified the ERA in 2017, Illinois in 2018 and, in January 2020, Virginia became the 38th state to ratify it. Delaware was the third state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment in 1972 and passed a State Constitutional Equal Rights Amendment in 2019.
H.J.Res. 79, would remove the arbitrary 1982 deadline and take a critical step toward ensuring the ERA officially becomes the 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Blunt Rochester is an original cosponsor of H.J.Res. 79. She was also a cosigner to a letter requesting that the U.S. Archivist certify the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution.