There are currently 35 states that have ratified the ERA and legal analysis suggests we may need just three more states for women to have equal rights under our Constitution. We ask you to support our efforts nationwide, particularly in the states that have not yet ratified the ERA: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, N. Carolina, Oklahoma, S. Carolina, Utah, and Virginia. We also ask you to place your full support behind Congressional legislation to eliminate deadlines on the original 1972 ERA. It is time our Constitution protects the rights of women, and women need and deserve active participation in ERA advocacy from the White House.
Response to Petition
Thank you very much for your petition about the Equal Rights Amendment; we completely agree that it's an important priority. Earlier in his career, President Obama cosponsored the Women's Equality Amendment when he served in the U.S. Senate and, as a State Senator in Illinois, he sponsored a joint resolution ratifying The Equal Rights Amendment. Over the past four and a half years, ensuring that every American has the chance to get ahead -- regardless of gender, race, faith, or sexual orientation -- has been at the center of President Obama's agenda.
Equal pay is key. In fact, the very first bill that President Obama signed into law was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which extends the time period in which claimants can bring pay discrimination claims. He established the first White House Council on Women and Girls, whose members are charged with ensuring that federal agencies consider the interests of women and girls in their programs and policies. The President established a National Equal Pay Task Force, which is cracking down on violations of equal pay laws at a record rate, and he recently issued a presidential memorandum requiring federal employers to take concrete steps to address any gender pay gap in the federal workforce. The President also continues to advocate for the passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would strengthen the Equal Pay Act by closing the wage gap, improving anti-retaliation prohibitions, and providing appropriate remedies for women subjected to discriminatory pay practices.
At the same time, equality isn't just about wages; it's about opportunity. That's why this administration has also been working to expand educational opportunities for women and girls in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and increase the inclusion of women in the tech sector. Equality also means the right to live in safety, which is why the President recently signed a renewal and expansion of the Violence Against Women Act. It’s also why Obamacare requires insurers to cover potentially life-saving preventative care, and FDA-approved contraception, at no extra charge.
Still, we have a long way to go. Today, women on average are paid 77 cents for every dollar paid to men. In a nation founded on the understanding that all of us are created equal, that's not only unacceptable, it's also self-defeating. Women are the primary source of income in almost 40% of American households, and women make up over 40% of the workforce. Gender equality isn't just a moral issue, or a "women's issue." When women do well, our country does well. It matters for all of us.
We'll keep fighting to close the wage gap and ensure equality of rights under the law for all Americans. Thank you again.