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This week, Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez introduced S.J.RES.10: "A joint resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relative to equal rights for men and women."
In case you missed it, that's the Equal Rights Amendment—the utterly simple, overwhelmingly popular proposition that the Constitution should guarantee:
Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.
It is a completely uncontroversial amendment. In a poll conducted for Daily Kos in 2012, Public Policy Polling found that 91 percent of respondents believe "the Constitution should guarantee equal rights for men and women." You'd be hard-pressed, in fact, to find legislation with greater support. And yet, every congressional session, a handful of Democrats half-heartedly reintroduce it, where it is promptly sent off to committee to once again die a quiet death.
So it's not surprising that Sen. Menendez and his 10 fellow cosponsors once again introduced this bill with as little fanfare as possible. No big news conference; no senators making the rounds on television advocating for its passage; not even a Twitter campaign from Senate Democrats. Nothing but a press release from Menendez's office. Almost as if he and his cosponsors are trying to keep it a secret.
And where are the rest of the Democrats? Kudos to Sens. Mark Begich, Richard Blumenthal, Barbara Boxer, Ben Cardin, Tom Harkin, Mazie Hirono, Frank Lautenberg, Carl Levin, Debbie Stabenow, and Elizabeth Warren—but what about the rest of them? What about the rest of the record-setting number of women whom Democrats sent to the Senate in 2012? After Democratic women played such a critical role in last year's election—delivering an historic gender gap in the presidential race, not to mention shrinking the Republican rape caucus in Congress—you'd think elected Democrats would be eager to show their appreciation, especially when it's as simple as supporting a long overdue bill that has such broad support. We'd never expect Republicans to have the decency to support equality; after all, they went to great lengths to try to prevent the Violence Against Women Act from providing protection for all women. But this is the Democratic Party we're talking about. The pro-choice, pro-woman party. The party that so successfully ran on the distinction that Democrats, unlike Republicans, believe in women's rights.