Recognizing the Importance of the 70th Anniversary of the Signing of the Mutual Defense Treaty Between the United States and the Republic of Korea on October 1953

Floor Speech

Date: April 26, 2023
Location: Washington, DC


Ms. STABENOW. Mr. President, I am so proud to be here with my colleagues today--Senator Cortez Masto and all of our colleagues and with our leaders Senator Cardin and Senator Murkowski--on this bipartisan resolution that is, frankly, long overdue.

You know, there is a sign you often see at rallies for reproductive rights. A woman my age or older will often be holding it, and it reads something like this: ``I can't believe we are still fighting for this crap.'' Now, it usually has a different word on it than ``crap.''

As I stand here on the Senate floor in the Year of Our Lord 2023, I can't believe we are still fighting for equal rights for women under our American Constitution. We are 100 years out from when the Equal Rights Amendment was first introduced in 1923--a full century, 100 years--since it was first introduced. And a lot of things have changed since 1923, for sure. Women are CEOs and astronauts, professional athletes and chemistry professors, Governors and a Vice President of the United States. A quarter of the Members of this Chamber are women--not nearly enough, but we are getting there. Yet, still, 100 years later, women are not guaranteed equal legal protections, equal legal rights under our Constitution. That needed to change in 1923, and it certainly needs to change 100 years later in 2023.

Michigan was ready for change back in 1972. That is when my State ratified the ERA. A Congresswoman from Michigan helped lead the way. Congresswoman Martha Griffiths of Detroit was the first woman in history to serve on the House Ways and Means Committee.

In 1970, she filed a discharge petition to send the legislation to the full House of Representatives for consideration. It passed, only to die in the Senate. We have heard that story before. But Representative Griffiths was undaunted. She introduced an amended version. The House and Senate both passed it, and it was sent to the States for ratification in 1972.

Congresswoman Griffiths later served as Michigan's first elected Lieutenant Governor and became known as the Mother of the ERA. Congresswoman Griffiths, sadly, didn't live to see her amendment written into the Constitution.

But there is no doubt we need it today, even more than we did in 1972. Women in this country are watching our reproductive freedoms be dismantled. The Dobbs decision attempts to ban the abortion pill, and harsh abortion restrictions in States have left women in this country with fewer freedoms than our mothers and even our grandmothers enjoyed.

The ERA is really simple. It simply says:

Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.

Equal rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. That is it.

And this resolution is equally simple, the one before us. All it would do is remove an arbitrary deadline that was included when this was passed in Congress, preventing the ERA from being ratified.

The ERA is simple, but its protections would be profound. It would protect all people, regardless of sex, from discrimination. It would defend against the rollback of our fundamental rights and freedoms.

Congresswoman Martha Griffiths, from Michigan, passed it. The States ratified it. Now we just need to add it to our Constitution. Our daughters and our granddaughters can't wait another 100 years. They deserve equality now.

So I hope colleagues would join with us to pass this resolution and finally ensure all people are equal under our laws.