Two chambers of the New York legislature passed the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) for a second time Tuesday, taking the state one step closer to enshrining abortion rights in the state constitution.
The state legislature first passed the amendment last June during a special session called by Governor Kathy Hochul in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, which effectively ended the federal constitutional right to abortion.
“The horrifying, extreme decision by the United States Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade was a direct attack on our rights and protections,” Hochul said in a Tuesday statement.
“Here in New York, we will continue to take bold measures to protect the rights of New Yorkers, and I applaud the New York State Legislature for taking another crucial step toward enshrining the Equal Rights Amendment into the state constitution,” she added.
The resolution would add new protected groups to the existing Equal Protection Clause, which protects people based on race, color, creed, or religion. In addition, the ERA would forbid discrimination based on race, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or pregnancy status, including “pregnancy outcomes.”
The resolution to amend the state constitution must pass the legislature twice and then be approved by New Yorkers via a statewide vote.
“Today, we passed the Equality Amendment for the second time, which, if approved by the people, would enshrine in our constitution expanded protections for the civil rights of New Yorkers and ensure that no one is denied the opportunity to fully participate in society on the basis of their identity,” Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D) said in remarks.
“Across this country, at all levels of government, we have seen a worrying trend in rolling back and limiting the rights of Americans. We will not allow that to stand in New York. I look forward to voting for the Equality Amendment once again when it goes before the voters in 2024,” Heastie added.
The amendment is expected to go before New York voters in November 2024.