Good News of the Week: U.S. House champions women's rights

Blog / March 19, 2021

There can be no expiration date on equality.” – Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA)

This Wednesday was a breakthrough day for women’s rights in the House of Representatives. The House finally reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act, which had been allowed to expire under the former administration. And the House voted to remove the arbitrary deadline imposed on state ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment, paving the way for the ERA to be added to the Constitution.

VAWA is critical to confronting gender-based violence

By a margin of 244 to 172, the House voted to reauthorize the bipartisan Violence Against Women Act, which had lapsed in 2019. The renewed VAWA makes important changes that will strengthen prevention measures and support for survivors, aim to reduce gun violence that targets women, and direct additional resources and protections to the most marginalized communities.

Still, 172 Republicans opposed the measure. Some sided with the NRA, which opposes a simple commonsense fix to current law that aims to keep firearms out of the hands of domestic violence abusers, while some opposed needed anti-discrimination protections for transgender women.

Four New York Representatives voted against the VAWA reauthorization:

  • Andrew Garbarino in Long Island (CD-2)
  • Elise Stefanik in North Country (CD-21)
  • Claudia Tenney in Central NY (CD-22)
  • Lee Zeldin in the East End of Long Island (CD-1)

Learn more: Why We Need a Strong VAWA: Survivor Stories NOW

Take action: Call Your Senator NOW! Get scripts, petition links, and hear survivor stories here.

ERA would make gender equality the law

The Equal Rights Amendment, which would make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of sex, is a long overdue necessity to enshrine women’s equality in our nation’s founding document. It will make a profound difference – both symbolically and practically – in the lives of women and girls.

While a two-thirds majority in both chambers of Congress passed the ERA in 1972, the Amendment still needed the ratification of three-quarters of the states. After nearly a half-century, Virginia became the 38th state to ratify the ERA in 2020, finally qualifying it to be codified into law as the 28th Amendment to the Constitution.

However, a federal judge ruled earlier this month that Virginia and two other states’ recent ratification of the ERA came too late to count, as the original ERA included a 1982 deadline for states to ratify. Yesterday’s resolution aims to remove that 1982 deadline. Now, a similar resolution must pass the Senate, where proponents will likely need 60 votes in order to bypass the Senate filibuster.

To learn more about the ERA and how you can help, click here.