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Yesterday saw a historic breakthrough for the Equal Rights Amendment and the cause of gender equality in the U.S., as a majority of U.S. Senators voted to recognize the ERA as the 28th Amendment.

51 Senators voted in favor of Senate Joint Resolution 4 (SJ Res 4), which would recognize the ERA as “valid to all intents and purposes as part of the U.S. Constitution,” now that the necessary 38 states have ratified it.

Although the ERA did not attain the 60 votes needed to advance further at this time, the message is clear: a majority of Senators, along with a large majority of the American people, believe firmly in equal rights for all citizens.

Growing Momentum for the ERA in Congress

This is a day to celebrate, as we march on toward a more just future, which our faith inspires us to anticipate with hope.

We are grateful Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) brought SJ Res 4 forward for this vote, which brings important visibility to this long-awaited reform. As he said:

“America can never hope to be a land of freedom and opportunity so long as half its population is treated like second class citizens. So 100 years after the ERA first came to Congress, the work is not done. The fight is yet to be won. The march continues and we have a chance right now to take this next step forward.

Mr. Schumer also took a courageous step to pave the way for further action in the near future: By changing his vote to “no” at the end, he was able to “move to reconsider” the vote at a later time in this Congress.

Justice Revival and the #Faith4ERA campaign have championed SJ Res 4 since inception, alongside our partners at the ERA Coalition. Today, we celebrate and thank every Senator who supported this measure, demonstrating their commitment to universal human rights and equal justice under the law.

We commend Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) for their leadership as cosponsors of this bipartisan resolution. We extend special appreciation to Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) for joining Murkowski in a commitment to democratic principle over partisan politics. 

Other signs of hope were visible yesterday—including the moral courage of Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO), and the House ERA Caucus, who boldly marched to the Senate chamber to witness the vote and signify their commitment to gender equality. 

While Senators moved in and out, casting their votes unceremoniously in front of a largely vacant chamber, the House ERA Caucus lent appropriate gravity to a moment of great consequence. 

Ms. Pressley’s remarks to the press captured the day’s significance:

“At a time when we face daily sexism, pregnancy discrimination, pay inequities, sexual violence, and persistent, legislated attacks on our bodily autonomy, our bill is essential. But once again, the Jim Crow era rules of the U.S. Senate are obstructing justice… the obstruction of the ERA by some callous Senate Republicans is only the latest example of their damning failure to do the bare minimum to protect our fundamental rights…

The Senate’s failure to pass our bill means that constitutional inequality and the daily indignities and disparities that come with it will remain the status quo… I do not want my daughter or any daughter to continue to live in a country where we have normalized and internalized the disparate treatment of women and LGBTQ folks and the disparities that follow. This fight isn’t over.”

Expressing Faith Support for the ERA

Once again, Justice Revival was on the front lines at a pivotal moment to symbolize the support of people of faith across this nation for women’s rights, LGBTQ+ rights, and gender equality for all. Ahead of the vote, we mobilized dozens of supporters to contact their Senators and encourage them to vote yes on SJ Res 4. As the Senate debated and voted on the bill this week, Justice Revival founder Allyson McKinney Timm was present alongside fellow ERA advocates. 

Yesterday, McKinney Timm also partnered with Lisa Sharon Harper of Freedom Road and Tarunjit Butalia of Religions for Peace USA to explain why the ERA is essential, in a new article for Religion News Service. They wrote: 

“As faith leaders concerned about the harms of gender-based violence, pregnancy discrimination, maternal mortality and other injustices, we believe full equality is an urgent moral imperative. Every one of these harms has an outsized impact on women of color and their families.”

Join the Movement

At Justice Revival, we will continue elevating visible faith support for equal rights and inviting more partners to join the #Faith4ERA campaign. We welcome faith groups from any tradition who share our commitment to equal rights for all to join us in this movement.

As we celebrate the hopeful progress made this week, we recommit to prayerful action for equal human rights in the months ahead.

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