Lawson votes to remove time limit for ratification of Equal Rights Amendment

Women have continued to march every year for equal rights.
Photo special to the Outlook

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Al Lawson voted to pass H.J. Res. 17, a joint resolution to remove an arbitrary time limit previously set by Congress for the states to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, a proposed amendment to the Constitution that guarantees equal rights for women.  

 “For generations, women in Florida and across the country have fought tirelessly to advance the promise of liberty, justice and equality for themselves and their daughters,” Lawson said last Thursday. “Despite the progress women have made, they continue to face barriers to equality that result in ongoing discrimination under the law from the devastating wage gap to pregnancy discrimination, sexual harassment, under-representation at the decision-making table and a disproportionate impact from the pandemic and economic crisis. 

“With the ratification of the ERA by the requisite 38 states and the overwhelming support of Americans from across the political spectrum, I am proud to join my colleagues to remove this arbitrary deadline and ensure that every woman in Florida and our nation receive the equal protection of the law that the ERA and the Constitution demand.”

 The ERA was first proposed in 1923 by suffragist Alice Paul, just a few years after women gained the right to vote. The constitutional amendment was then introduced in every session of Congress until it passed in 1972 by bipartisan majorities in both the House and Senate. Congress then placed an arbitrary seven-year deadline on the ratification process before extending the deadline to 1982, but only 35 ratified the ERA before the arbitrary deadline.  However, with the recent ratifications of the ERA by Nevada in 2017, Illinois in 2018 and Virginia in 2020, the 38 states needed for certification of the ERA to be become the 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution has now been reached. 

The Equal Rights Amendment simply states: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State on account of sex.”  It would affirm women’s equality in our Constitution, enshrining the principle of women’s equality and an explicit prohibition against sex discrimination in the nation’s foundational document.

H.J.Res.17 removes the arbitrary deadline for ratification set in 1982 and takes a critical step toward ensuring the ERA officially becomes part of our Constitution. As the 28th Amendment, the ERA would: 

Give women a key tool in the legal arsenal to combat everyday discrimination women face, including pay discrimination, pregnancy discrimination, and sexual and domestic violence;

Provide a single, national baseline protection against sex discrimination across the country; and

Apply the most rigorous judicial review to laws and government policies that discriminate against women and it would ensure that laws or policies that are inconsistent with equality for women be struck down. 

“The story of our nation is one of ever-expanding freedom, as generations of Americans have fought to make more real the full promise of our founding,” Lawson said.  “Adding the ERA to the Constitution honors our most bedrock values of equality and justice for all, and is essential to ensuring that women in Florida and everywhere are treated equally under the law.  I will continue working to advance the rights, opportunity and prosperity of all women and their families and will not stop fighting until the ERA is the 28th Amendment to the Constitution.”

 Lawson votes to pass 

two historic immigration bills

 WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Al Lawson voted to pass H.R. 6, the American Dream and Promise Act, and H.R. 1603, the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, two landmark pieces of legislation to modernize and reform the immigration system and secure permanent protections and a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. The American Dream and Promise Act provides relief to DREAMers, as well as to many Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Enforced Departure holders. The Farm Workforce Modernization Act provides stability, predictability and fairness to the workers who feed America.

 “In Florida and across the country, our immigrant communities make America more American,” Lawson said. “The people of Florida want solutions to our broken immigration system that honor our values, keep Americans safe and protect the farm workers, Dreamers, and TPS and DED recipients who have long been a vital part of our communities and our economy. In light of the pandemic and economic crisis, which have inflicted a devastating toll on immigrant communities and our essential frontline workers, including our farm workers, the protections in these bills are urgently needed. I am proud to join my colleagues to pass these historic, commonsense and overwhelmingly popular bills that ensure our proud immigrant communities can continue to pursue their American dream as they strengthen, enrich and contribute to our nation.”

  Lawson also announced that state colleges and universities in his district would receive more than $283 million in emergency funding as a result of the recently passed $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

 At least half of the funding each institution receives will be issued directly to students in the form of emergency financial grants to help pay for course materials, housing, food, health care, childcare and other essentials.

 “The American Rescue Package is a critical lifeline for North Florida institutions and students who are facing severe economic strains due to the pandemic,” Lawson said. “This funding will provide them with much-needed assistance during this crisis as I continue to work to bring additional resources to our district.”

 The American Rescue Plan Act provided almost $40 billion in higher education relief funds, including $2.2 billion going directly to Florida colleges and universities, to support the overwhelming costs that institutions and students face in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

 The colleges and universities in Florida’s 5th district receiving funding under the American Rescue Plan Act are as listed: Edward Waters College, $5,480,437; Florida A&M University, $36,530,662; Florida Gateway College, $5,824,065; Florida State College at Jacksonville, $56,387,386; Florida State University, $80,429,930; Gadsden Technical Institute, $109,154; Jacksonville University, $6,603,288; Lively Technical College, $3,088,004; North Florida College, $2,703,796; Tallahassee Community College, $27,381,326; Trinity Baptist College, $1,283,028; University of North Florida, $35,124,000.

 The American Rescue Plan Act also includes an additional $3 billion for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), other Minority-Serving Institutions, and other under-resourced institutions.


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