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Remarks on Signing H.J. Res. 638 - The Equal Rights Amendment

October 20, 1978

Lot of happy faces this morning. [Laughter] Much more pleasant than you looked 2 months ago.

As is well known, the Constitution does not require that the President sign a resolution concerning an amendment to the Constitution of the United States. But I particularly wanted to add my signature to those of the Speaker of the House and to the President pro tern of the Senate, to again demonstrate as strongly as I possibly can my full support for the ratification of the equal rights amendment.

We still have 15 States of the 50 who have not ratified this amendment to the Constitution, which would give a simple acknowledgement that women should have equal rights under the laws of our Nation.

This has not been an easy effort. And although it's a well-deserved recognition of the fact that equal rights have not indeed been extended to women, there's been a gross distortion of what this amendment does.

I believe that a thorough debate, an accurate analysis of what the significance of this amendment is, will lead to ratification of the constitutional amendment.

It's a very important effort. We now will have three additional years to let the public be well educated, to let the legislatures of the remaining 15 States be thoroughly acquainted with the beneficial consequences of the ratification amendment and a chance to inspire all those who believe in equal justice and basic human rights in our country to show this by their full support of the passage of this amendment.

I and all my family, my Cabinet members, the Democratic Party officials, all of us are eager to work with those who have been so courageous and persistent in pursuing this great effort.

I think it is accurate to say that a few weeks ago even, the issue was in doubt. But because of the extremely effective effort made by Birch Bayh, Don Edwards, many others, certainly including the majority leader of the Senate, the Speaker of the House, this has been made possible for us all.

And now, as President of the United States, it's a great pleasure for me to sign the law passed by Congress, the resolution extending the time of 3 years for the ratification of the equal rights amendment. And in doing so, I urge all the people of the country to join me in correcting a basic defect in the American Constitution in providing equal rights for the women of our country.

[At this point, the President signed the resolution.]

Let me say that this is enough of ceremonies, and now it's time for all of us to go to work. [Laughter] I hope that we can start our efforts among the people of our country very early and not wait until the final few hours of intense debate in the State legislatures before we mount an effective effort.

I think Sarah Weddington here on my staff will be a major asset, and of course, my wife, my daughter-in-law Judy, who's working almost full-time. She's going to have to take a brief respite around the first part of December to deliver my first granddaughter. [Laughter] But other than that, we'll be working full-time.

And I want to thank all of you who have been so notable in your efforts, sometimes under the most discouraging circumstances. But I think that the truth has prevailed in the Congress, and I'm sure it will prevail in the rest of our country in the months ahead.

Thank you again, very much.

Note: The President spoke at 10:08 a.m. at the ceremony in the Cabinet Room at the White House.

No Public Law number was assigned to H.J. Res. 638.

Jimmy Carter, Remarks on Signing H.J. Res. 638 - The Equal Rights Amendment Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/244167

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