As well as acting in shows including "Star Trek: Voyager," "This Is Us" and "Hacks," Kamala Lopez campaigns for women’s equality in the US Constitution. She is the founder of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) Education Project and directed the documentary Film "Equal Means Equal." This week she is rallying at the White House to establish women as fully equal under US law. Lopez has helped mobilize women and their allies to rally outside the White House on 27 January, followed by a march to the Department of Justice, where petitions will be handed to the Attorney General’s office.

The date marks the two-year anniversary of Virginia becoming the 38th and final state needed to ratify the ERA. But in 2020, the Trump Administration's Office of Legal Counsel published a memo instructing the Archivist not to publish the Equal Rights Amendment if Virginia ratified. Kamala talks about how they’re putting pressure on President Biden to validate the ERA and why it will help women across America.

27 January 2022

Sabina Nasic: Kamala, please tell us why 27 January 2022 is such an important day?

Kamala Lopez: 27 January marks the two-year anniversary of Virginia’s ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) and, as it was the final ratifying state necessary, the ERA becomes Federal law and is enforceable.

Activists will be holding actions to commemorate this day and to pressure the Department of Justice and Administration to rescind the OLC memo and publish the ERA. At noon, activists will meet and rally outside the White House in Washington, DC, followed by a march to the Department of Justice to drop off petition signatures to Attorney General Garland, demanding that he rescind the OLC memo and direct the Archivist to publish ERA.

Women as fully equal persons under the US Constitution

What will this mean for women?

The ERA will establish women as fully equal persons under the US Constitution for the first time in history. This will compel all courts to enforce all laws equally on women's behalf, something that has never been required, literally since the birth of our nation.

In practice, this means that laws promising equal pay, for example, will have to require actually equal pay. Under the current Constitution, without the ERA, courts are free to interpret equal pay laws to allow less than equal pay because the constitution permits unequal enforcement regardless of what the law says. The ERA will force state and federal governments to more carefully design all laws and policies to ensure they will have no discriminatory effect on women. Without the ERA, government officials need not concern themselves with fear of being sued for excluding women or treating them differently. For example, women are excluded from protection under many hate crime laws, while other categories, such as race and religion, are protected.

This is currently legal, but will become illegal under the ERA.

What are your next steps?

We have many ideas for how to validate the ERA, including putting pressure on the Biden administration, lobbying Congress, and relentlessly filing lawsuits until all three branches of government embrace the ERA and declare their unmitigated support for women's full constitutional equality, once and for all.

Equal Means Equal

What particular actions will you take?

Here are two actions we are taking as Equal Means Equal prepares our Litigation Strategy. We’ll ask President Biden to instruct the Archivist to publish the ERA as the 28th Amendment to the US Constitution. And ask Attorney General Merrick Garland to withdraw the politically motivated, and legally unsound, Trump Administration Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) memo on the ERA, to be consistent with the Biden Administration's agenda, as soon as possible.

How to support ERA

How can other people support ERA?

They can go to Equal Means Equal site and sign up for our weekly newsletter to get the latest information on events surrounding the ERA. We need as many individuals and organizations to partner up with us as possible. We cannot do this alone. They can watch the film ‘Equal Means Equal’ and learn why we need the ERA and what it does for all Americans. They can host watch-parties, organize film screenings, write letters, support our social media and reach out to journalists to expose the problem and educate the public.

What is your goal with ERA?

The goal of ERA adoption is to fix systemic inequities based on sex-discrimination, and provide women with equal rights and protections under Federal law.

How can people follow the rally?

People can join ERA activists from across the nation outside the White House in Lafayette Park, Washington DC at 12pm to rally for the Equal Rights Amendment. If you cannot attend, sign up to watch the rally virtually. Speakers will address the Constitutional Crisis at hand and then march to the Department of Justice where petitions will be given to the Attorney General’s office. Also, on the night of the 27th, Generation Ratify will be hosting a slumber party outside of the Department of Justice to let Attorney General Garland know that young people won’t rest until he does his part to certify the ERA into the Constitution. They will be hosting a virtual kick-off 8pm to 9pm EST.