The actress sent every House rep and senator a letter asking for the legislative body to (finally) make gender parity a part of the US Constitution. “I am writing to ask you to stand up for equality — for your mother, your daughter, your sister, your wife or yourself — by actively supporting the Equal Rights Amendment,” Streep wrote. All members of Congress also received a copy of the book “Equal Means Equal” by Jessica Neuwirth, president of the ERA Coalition.
Continued the letter, “A whole new generation of women and girls are talking about equality — equal pay, equal protection from sexual assault, equal rights.”
The ERA, which proposes that “equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex,” was first introduced in Congress nearly a century ago soon after women won the vote in 1920. It was put forward — and rejected — every year from 1923 until 1972, when it finally won the requisite number of votes in the legislative body to move on to the next step for ratification: getting three-quarters of states to approve it. 1982 was the closest the ERA ever came to being passed, when 35 states voted in favor of amendment — three short of the necessary total of 38.
Jackie Speier (D-CA) supported Streep’s letter, stating, “The time is ripe to ratify the equal rights amendment. Seventy percent of people polled think that we already have an ERA in the constitution, and they’re shocked to find we don’t have one.”