By Christian Smith
The actress and activist Alyssa Milano wants women to know that the Constitution doesn't protect their rights as much as they may think it does.
Milano, who co-founded the #MeToo Movement to highlight women's rights and the issue of sexual assault, is working to raise awareness of the Equal Rights Amendment or ERA, a proposed Constitutional amendment that would ensure women are treated the same as men under the law.
"We need to have protections and guarantees in the Constitution," Milano said Monday in an interview with Cheddar. "What the ERA would do is guarantee us equality across the board."
Milano was speaking at an event in front of the "Fearless Girl" statue in New York City's Financial District, along with Representative Carolyn Maloney, a New York Democrat. She has been one of the ERA's most fervent supporters in Congress, reintroducing the ERA on the House floor 11 times in her 25-year Congressional career. She said she'll continue to do so until it is ratified.
"Right now our Constitution for 242 years has guaranteed that men have equality in our laws but not women," Maloney said. "I believe it's fundamentally the most important thing we can do to help women, empower women."
The only right women are explicitly granted by the Constitution is the right to vote under the 19th Amendment, which was ratified in 1920. The ERA was written to extend protections for women.
To become enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, 38 states must ratify the amendment. Illinois became the 37th state to ratify the ERA on Friday, June 1, but it's been a slow roll since the ERA was first passed in both the House and Senate in 1972.
Virginia is one state that could push the amendment over the edge to ratification. The state elected a record 38 women to the Virginia General Assembly last year, which Maloney said may make the difference in ratifying the ERA.
It has taken almost a century to get this close to ratifying the ERA, first introduced in Congress in the early 1920s, and its supporters are still hopeful.
"I pray that my three-year-old daughter will grow up in a world where she's equal to my son," Milano said.
For the full interview, click here.