Speech ● Congress
For Immediate Release: 
February 12, 2020
Contact Info: 
Mariel Saez 202-225-3130
WASHINGTON, DC – House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) spoke at a press event ahead of House passage of a resolution to remove the deadline on the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). Below is a transcript of his remarks and a link to the video.

Click here to watch the video.
“It’s never too late to do the right thing. About sixty days after…Congress passed the ERA, Maryland voted to ratify the ERA. I had been in the State Senate for five years at that point in the time, and I could not understand why women were not equal under our Constitution as it read, and how sad it was that, the consciousness of our Founders, which was extraordinarily high for their time – extraordinary – but they didn’t say ‘we hold these truths to be self-evident that all human kind are created equal.’ It is time to act. It is far past time to act. As I said in Maryland, 48 years ago, [we] overwhelmingly said: all of us are equal.

“I am the father of three daughters, the grandfather of two granddaughters, and the great-grandfather of three great-granddaughters. They thank you for all you have done...

“Tomorrow, the House will pass a resolution to remove the arbitrary deadline of ratification for the Equal Rights Amendment. There should not be any time limit for doing the right thing. Doing so will provide more clarity that the ERA should become the twenty-eighth amendment [to the Constitution]. It is long overdue, but, as I said, never too late.

“In 2020, a woman still earns, on average, 82 cents to a man’s dollar. That’s on a good day. That gap widens for women of color. Many women in the workforce are at risk of being placed on leave or being forced out of their jobs if they become pregnant... And many Republican-controlled state legislatures are enacting laws that threaten reproductive rights or take away women’s access to health care. These are forms of discrimination that testify to why we need the ERA in the Constitution, as so many have said here.

“I’ve been proud to support the ERA from 1972 to this very day. Usually, I get things done a little quicker. But with this powerful group behind me – and I’m behind you, let me place properly because your work has been extraordinary. Eleanor Smeal, [President of the Feminist Majority Foundation], thank you so much for you keeping the faith through the decades. Thank you so much, thank you.

“This [amendment], as I said earlier, should have been in our Constitution in the very beginning. Civil rights is an effort of raising consciousness, of awareness, of understanding what equality means – real equality. I want to thank Representative Speier and Chairwoman Maloney for making this a priority and ensuring the House does its job.

“In 2015, Nancy and I were in Selma, Alabama, and Barack Obama gave a speech, sitting there with George W. Bush and the great, extraordinary, [Rep.] John Lewis. And Obama gave one of his best speeches. The President said, ‘the strength of America, is that we are,’ in fact, ‘always working toward a more perfect union.’ Tomorrow’s vote will be another step toward a more perfect, and inclusive union. It’s a great day for America.”