Notable Badass Meryl Streep Wrote A Letter Urging Every Congress Member To Stand Up For Equality

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You’d think in 2015 the US Constitution would have every amendment that we’d need for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, right?! WRONG! There’s only so much we can do with the right for free speech, freedom of religion, and the right to bear arms etc without a constitutional right to be considered equal in all areas of society.

Oh wait, you thought equality was a constitutional right? Wrong again! The US has NEVER ratified the Equal Rights Amendment. The ERA was originally a proposed amendment to the United States Constitution designed to guarantee equal rights for women. The ERA was originally written by Alice Paul and Crystal Eastman. In 1923, it was introduced in the Congress for the first time.

In 1972, it passed both houses of Congress and was submitted to the state legislatures for ratification. It seemed headed for quick approval until Phyllis Schlafly mobilized conservative women in opposition, arguing that the ERA would disadvantage housewives (by forcing them to be drafted into the military which is absurd given that men aren’t even forced into being drafted, and by introducing more unisex bathrooms, aka Armageddon…)

Congress had set a ratification deadline of March 22, 1979. Through 1977, the amendment received 35 of the necessary 38 state ratifications. Five states later rescinded their ratifications before the 1979 deadline. In 1978, a joint resolution of Congress extended the ratification deadline to June 30, 1982, but no further states ratified the amendment and it died. The amendment has been reintroduced in every session of Congress since 1982.

Feminist organizations, most notably the National Organization for Women, have been championing the cause and urgency for this amendment as it would guarantee equal pay on a federal level. There are state laws which outline various equality measures designed to mirror the language in the ERA, but for the sake of the future of America, this needs to be in the constitution. Why? Because state legislation is not enough. Laws can be voted in and out depending on who is in power, where as a Constitutional amendment cannot be touched.

It is time we stopped spreading bogus information that the ERA will “hurt” families and women, and we’re lookin’ at you Phyllis Shafly!

Aside from organizations championing the passage of the ERA in Congress each year, there have also been notable activists such as suffragist Alice Paul, and lawyer and congresswoman Martha Griffiths who was instrumental in including the prohibition of discrimination on the basis of gender in the Civil Rights act of 1964.

Well now there is another notable badass to add to the list of women championing the cause of the ERA in congress, Academy Award-winning actress Meryl Streep who is known for her fierce advocacy of women in the media and elsewhere.

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Not one to rest on her laurels, no matter how lauded she is in Hollywood and academic circles, Meryl has written a letter to all 535 members of Congress urging them to pass the ERA, and included a copy of “Equal Means Equal,” a book by Jessica Neuwirth, president of the ERA Coalition.

“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. The ERA is not just a women’s rights issue, it will have a meaningful benefit for the whole human family,” she wrote.

She included information about how the US urged Afghanistan to include equal rights in their new constitution following the fall of the Taliban regime after the Iraq war, so why should our government be exempt from following their own advice?

“A whole new generation of women and girls are talking about equality – equal pay, equal protection from sexual assault, equal rights,” she said, pointing to the culture that is hyper-focused on gender equality and feminism right now.

California congresswoman Jackie Speier, a Democrat, added her support to Meryl’s badass and timely (actually overdue) fight.

“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,” she said.

That’s a sad and sobering thought. But the more this information is shared and acknowledged, the more inaction becomes a cause for social unrest.

It’s not hard to see why Meryl Streep is taking her feminist fight to the next level, given that she will portray British Suffragette Emily Pankhurst in ‘Suffragette’ this Christmas, also starring Helena Bonham Carter and Carey Mulligan.

While we are looking forward to looking back through history and seeing how far we have come in the fight for equality, it is important to continue striving for momentum in the future. Thank you Meryl! We think Miranda Priestly would HIGHLY approve.

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3 Comments

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