[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Today, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, asked Trinity College student Thursday Williams about the importance of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing entitled “The Equal Rights Amendment: How Congress Can Recognize Ratification and Enshrine Equality in Our Constitution.”
Today’s hearing provided witnesses like Williams the opportunity to testify on the necessity of enshrining sex-based equality into law and Congress’ role in ERA ratification. The ERA is a proposed amendment that would make sex-based equality explicit in the U.S. Constitution for the first time. Connecticut ratified the ERA in 1973.
“The fact is generations have fought for the ERA. I’ve been proud to support the ERA for a long time. And now your generation is fighting for it. And whether it occurs in this Congress or not, I believe that your generation will finally accomplish the ERA if we don’t. And I want to ask you what you would tell others in your generation about the importance of the ERA to them in their daily lives?” Blumenthal asked Williams.
Video of Blumenthal’s remarks are available here. The full text of Blumenthal’s remarks and exchange with Williams is copied below.
U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal: Thanks Mr. Chairman. Thank you for having this hearing. Thank you all, all of our witnesses, all of our audience for being here today, everybody is watching. This issue is supremely important. Ms. Williams, I’m really proud that you’re here today and that you go to school at Trinity in my home state of Connecticut. I hope one day maybe it will be your home state too and maybe you’ll be sitting up here in the chair that I have. I’m really proud of your testimony. You know that not too many people in this country who can say, “I fell in love with the United States Constitution in high school.” But thank you for your commitment to our Constitution and for your understanding about the brilliance of that Constitution and you say it in your testimony, “Our founding fathers were visionaries. They understood that we needed a document that could endure throughout generations.” The fact is generations have fought for the ERA. I’ve been proud to support the ERA for a long time. And now your generation is fighting for it. And whether it occurs in this Congress or not, I believe that your generation will finally accomplish the ERA if we don’t. And I want to ask you what you would tell others in your generation about the importance of the ERA to them in their daily lives?
Williams: So as I’ve been sitting here listening to the testimonies and the questions, there are a lot of concerns about men performing in women’s sports and I’m here as a young woman of color who is in her senior year of college, we’re not worried about that. I’m not worried about that. It’s the truth. We’re not. We have way more important issues that we need to be focusing on and I will tell every young person and I’ve been telling as many as I can, this is important as us. The ERA protects everyone, me, Black women, white women, white men. So it’s important to all of us and it’s important now, it was important before and it will be important in the future.
Blumenthal: Now you happen to be going to school in Connecticut which ratified the ERA overwhelmingly and in 1974 in fact adopted its own constitutional amendment by 77 percent, the equivalent of the ERA in our state. Is it good enough that Connecticut has done it? You live in Connecticut.
Williams: It’s not good enough. I actually just want to say that as a young person, I’ve been concerned about the most recent activity of our Supreme Court and the fact that a lot of our rights are continuing to be rolled back. And I am now actually seeing the importance of having this amendment because of that. So having a law in Connecticut is not enough. We need this amendment. We need it so when things are being rolled back, we can use it to continue to fight against.
Blumenthal: And in the future, are you going to continue to work for the ERA?
Williams: Absolutely. Absolutely. I joined the ERA when I was I think 18 and I am now about to be 22 and I am even more determined than I’ve been before. I’m even more for it now than ever.
Blumenthal: Thank you. Thanks Mr. Chairman.