Summer Lee joins Bush, Pressley as Vice Chair in Launching First-Ever Congressional Equal Rights Amendment Caucus

“To the right wing politicians and judges waging a full on assault on the rights of women and queer youth…we’re not afraid and we won’t be silenced.”

(WASHINGTON, D.C.)— Today, Congresswoman Summer Lee (PA-12) joined Cori Bush (MO-01) and Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) in launching the first-ever Congressional Caucus for the Equal Rights Amendment along with Representatives Becca Balint (VT), Nanette Barragán (CA-44), Judy Chu (CA-28), Madeline Dean Lois Frankel (FL-22), Steven Horsford (NV-04), Sydney Kamlager-Dove (CA-37), Barbara Lee (CA-13), Summer Lee (PA-12),  Jennifer McClellan (VA-04), Mark Pocan (WI-02), Delia Ramirez (IL-03), Jamie Raskin (MD-08), and Abigail Spanberger (VA-07).

Lee, the first Black woman to represent Pennsylvania in the US Congress will serve as Vice Chair of the caucus, led by Co-Chair Pressley and Bush. 

Congresswoman Summer Lee said, “It’s not shocking that when the Constitution was first drafted, women, Black, brown, queer and marginalized folks were intentionally written out. What is shocking is that in 2023, our constitution STILL does not include equal rights regardless of sex–meaning our constitution STILL does not reflect or protect all people. To the Right-wing politicians and judges waging a full-on assault on the rights of women and queer youth, we’re not afraid and we won’t be silenced. We’re organized and mobilized to make equal rights the law of the land.”

Click here for a full video of the press conference 

Today’s launch of the caucus, which aims to recognize the ERA as the 28th amendment and establish constitutional gender equality as a national priority, comes exactly 100 years after the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was first introduced in Congress in 1923 to commemorate the centennial of the struggle for constitutional gender equality. The caucus aims to affirm the Equal Rights Amendment as the 28th amendment to the Constitution; raise awareness in Congress to establish constitutional gender equality as a national priority; partner with an inclusive  multi-generational, multi-racial coalition of advocates, activists, scholars, organizers, and public figures; and center the people who stand to benefit the most from gender equality, including Black and brown women, LGBTQ+ people, people seeking abortion care, and other marginalized groups.

The Congressional Caucus for the Equal Rights Amendment is non-partisan and bicameral. The purpose of this caucus will be to:

  • Ensure that Congress does everything in its power to finalize the ERA and assure it is officially affirmed as the 28th Amendment
  • Educate Members of Congress about the history of the ERA and help them understand the contemporary issues surrounding the effort to finalize it; 
  • Raise awareness among our constituents and the American public that the fight for the ERA is alive and well;
  • Collaborate with other Members of Congress, caucuses, and organizations to advance the ERA and ensure that it is fully implemented; 
  • Expand the vision of who the ERA will most directly benefit to include women of color, queer and transgender people, people seeking abortion care, and other marginalized groups and communities;
  • Build support for an ERA Policy Platform that will use the power of the Equal Rights Amendment to pass reforms perceived as unconstitutional without the ERA, now that the constitution has been altered to expressly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex; and
  • Provide a structure to coordinate the efforts and enhance the ability of Members of Congress to accomplish those goals.

This amendment has met the legal threshold in Article V of the U.S. Constitution to become the 28th Amendment. On March 22, 1972, Congress passed the Equal Rights Amendment with more than the 2/3rds required. Virginia became the last state necessary to ratify it in 2020 as the 38th state. 27 states have state-level Equal Rights Amendments today.

A full transcript of Congresswoman Summer Lee’s remarks can be found below:

“Let me just start by saying 110 years ago, Congresswoman McClellan mentioned it. My founders of my sorority mentioned to you how they had to march from the back, but I thank God, that black woman even when they’re made to stand in the back lead from the front every step of the way,

because without that intersectional, bold, tenacious fight, we wouldn’t be where we are now, even as we recognize that we have still yet further to go

But I’m glad to be here, and I’m honored to stand here not just as the first black woman from Pennsylvania in congress, to stand with incredible powerful women who have founded this caucus or this iteration of the Congress, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley and Cori Bush. I thank you for your boldness, your joy, as you mentioned, your fearlessness and for giving me the opportunity to help in this fight. 

It isn’t shocking that this document written by these rich, land owning, white men in the 18th century does not protect my rights and the rights of these bold women that you’ve heard from today, or our LGBTQI+ siblings. It’s not shocking that that document saw that my black ancestors were property until the 19th century, of women as second class citizens until the 20th, legally, that it doesn’t prohibit discrimination against people who look like me or our queer constituents. It’s not shocking that a document that did not allow women the right to participate in our democracy through voting, let alone the right to have land or a bank account until the 20th century is in need of an update.

What is shocking that in the year of our Lord 2023 We still haven’t updated our constitution to include equal rights, even in the face of a non-stop attack from Republican politicians and judges hell bent on tearing away our bodily autonomy, marriage equality and every other hard fought right and I remind you hard fought right and earned. 

What is shocking is that our constitution still does not include equal rights regardless of sex, meaning our constitution still does not reflect or protect all people. 

What’s shocking is that it is fully legal for Republicans to tear away Title Nine requirements for equal opportunity and education, to oppose Violence Against Women Act, the Fair Pensions Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act. To vote to pay for Viagra for servicemen, but oppose funding for family planning and contraception and pass bans on our bodily autonomy. So yes, I stand here today pissed off that it is not obvious to all elected members of Congress that the rights of all women, specifically black women, need to be protected.

As we are wrapping up Women’s History Month, I remain steadfast in making sure that our future daughters, our current daughters and granddaughters to come have more rights than we did, not less. As one of the vice chairs of the ERA caucus, I will fight tirelessly for a constitutional amendment, so that our daughters and granddaughters are not discussing what we failed to do in the 21st century. I’ll fight tirelessly to move us one step closer to enshrining the dignity, the humanity, and the equality of all people into the highest law of the land. 

To the right wing politicians and judges waging a full on assault on the rights of women and queer youth…we’re not afraid and we won’t be silenced. We are organized and we are mobilized to make equal rights the law of the land, because every woman, girl, femme, and trans person deserves leaders who will fight for them as hard as the activists, the agitators, and as the organizers fighting for our rights back home. So I thank you for being here today, and let’s get this one done!”

Organizations in support of the caucus include ACLU, AFL-CIO, Catholics for Choice, ERA Coalition, Equal Rights Amendment Project at Columbia Law School, Feminist Majority, Generation Ratify, National Organization for Women, National Women’s Law Center, NARAL Pro-Choice America, and SEIU International.

“Whether it’s attacks on abortion access, transgender youth, or Title IX, young women and queer people understand the Equal Right Amendment is a necessary tool to defend our lives. We are ready to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our Congressional allies as we organize for our constitutional gender equality,” said Rosie Couture, Founder and Executive Director of Generation Ratify.

“The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) Caucus was 100 years in the making. We have had champions in both chambers of Congress, and I am especially grateful that this new chapter in the history of the ERA is being led by Congresswomen Cori Bush and Ayanna Pressley; two dynamic and powerful Black women,” said Zakiya Thomas, President & CEO of the ERA Coalition. “I am excited to work with Congresswomen Pressley and Bush, their fellow leaders in Congress, and the over 283 members of our Coalition representing 80 million people, to finally make the ERA law. Our Coalition is a movement of movements united in the fight for gender equality; and we’re not backing down.”

“A century after the Equal Rights Amendment was first introduced in Congress in 1923, it’s long past time to make gender equality part of the fabric of our nation.  We urge Congress to leave no doubt that ‘we the people’ includes all of us,” said Ria Tabacco Mar Director, ACLU Women’s Rights Project.

“Ratifying the ERA is critical to ensuring that gender equality is the norm in every workplace and that everyone, regardless of their gender identity, is free from discrimination,” said AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler. “All working people deserve equal treatment under the law. We stand with Reps. Bush and Pressley and the new ERA caucus taking on this crucial fight. It’s time to get the job done and finally enshrine equality for women, women of color and LGBTQ+ people in the constitution.”

“We need to focus on a permanent solution so that reproductive freedom will no longer been vulnerable to capricious courts, new Congresses, and the occupier of the White House. The only answer is to change the constitution by finalizing the Equal Rights Amendment, which has been validly ratified and should be acknowledged as our 28th Amendment,” said Jamie L. Manson, M. Div., President of Catholics for Choice.

“The ERA Project is honored to mark this historic occasion along with visionary leaders in Congress and tireless advocates.  Fundamental equality is the bedrock of our democracy and the ERA would meet the needs of today by amending the constitution and finally guaranteeing the same opportunities and protections to all regardless of sex,” said Ting Ting Cheng, Director, Equal Rights Amendment Project at Columbia Law School.

“Our most fundamental rights, from the right to abortion to LGBTQ+ rights, are under attack from extremists. There can be no meaningful equality without ensuring that everybody has the freedom to make their own decision about their lives and future, including about pregnancy and abortion. We thank Rep. Bush for her leadership in forming the ERA Caucus, to formalize the dedication among our Hill champions for equality and equity for all. We look forward to collaboration with the Caucus to finally get the ERA on the books,” said NARAL Pro-Choice America President Mini Timmaraju.

A hundred years after the ERA was first proposed, it’s far past time to secure the promise of equal rights for all women, as we continue our daily struggle to secure reproductive freedom, equal pay for equal work, and workplaces free from sexual harassment and discrimination,”said Mary Kay Henry, SEIU International President.

“It is absolutely historical and marvelous that Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA – 07) and Congresswoman Cori Bush (MO-01) are launching the first-ever Congressional Caucus for the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) and affirms that the ERA is the 28th amendment to the United States Constitution. Better yet, the Caucus is being formed with the spirit and reality of inclusivity so that the ERA will work for equality for all women and people. As a woman who has fought for the ratification of ERA for over 50 years, to say I am happy is an understatement for their creating this caucus and for the work, it will do for equality for women and all people, especially those who have been marginalized,” said Eleanor Smeal, Co-Founder and President of Feminist Majority.

###

Recent Posts


Jun 20, 2024
Press

On World Refugee Day, Congresswoman Summer Lee Joins nearly 70 Members of Congress in Bicameral Letter Urging Administration to Consider Palestinians Fleeing Gaza for Refugee Status

**For Immediate Release** Kyla Gill, Kyla.Gill@mail.house.gov  Vaibhav Vijay, Vaibhav.Vijay@mail.house.gov  On World Refugee Day, Congresswoman Summer Lee Joins nearly 70 Members of Congress in Bicameral Letter Urging Administration to Consider Palestinians Fleeing Gaza for Refugee Status PITTSBURGH, PA – June 20, 2024  – Today, on World Refugee Day, Congresswoman Lee joined nearly 70 members of Congress […]



Jun 20, 2024
Press

Congresswoman Summer Lee Attends Allies for Health + Wellbeing Ribbon Cutting Ceremony and East Allegheny Meals-on-Wheels 50th Anniversary Luncheon

**For Immediate Release** Kyla Gill, Kyla.Gill@mail.house.gov  Vaibhav Vijay, Vaibhav.Vijay@mail.house.gov  Congresswoman Summer Lee Attends Allies for Health + Wellbeing Ribbon Cutting Ceremony and East Allegheny Meals-on-Wheels 50th Anniversary Luncheon PITTSBURGH, PA – June 20, 2024 – Today, Congresswoman Summer Lee attended the Allies for Health + Wellbeing Ribbon Cutting Ceremony and the East Allegheny Meals on […]



Jun 18, 2024
Press

MEDIA ADVISORY FOR THURSDAY, JUNE 20th at 11AM & 12PM: Congresswoman Summer Lee to Attend Allies for Health + Wellbeing Ribbon Cutting Ceremony at 11AM & East Allegheny Meals-on-Wheels 50th Anniversary Year Luncheon at 12PM

**FOR PLANNING PURPOSES**  Contact: Kyla.Gill@mail.house.gov | 412.841.7913 MEDIA ADVISORY FOR THURSDAY, JUNE 20th at 11AM & 12PM: Congresswoman Summer Lee to Attend Allies for Health + Wellbeing Ribbon Cutting Ceremony at 11AM & East Allegheny Meals-on-Wheels 50th Anniversary Year Luncheon at 12PM RSVP HERE 11 AM STOP: Allies for Health + Wellbeing Ribbon Cutting Ceremony […]