Hundreds rally to support ERA, call on Minnesota Senate to 'get it done'
ST. PAUL -- Hundreds of women filled the Capitol rotunda on Friday, March 8, to rally in support of a constitutional amendment guaranteeing people of all gender identities equal rights under the law.
And they came with a message for the Minnesota Senate: get it done.
The gathering coincided with International Women's Day and came one day after the Minnesota House of Representatives approved a bill that would ask Minnesota voters whether to enshrine in the Minnesota Constitution that “equality of rights under the law shall not be abridged or denied on account of gender."
Supporters at the rally said that if the Senate doesn't pass the bill this year it will become a campaign issue in the 2020 election. And they committed to pressing Senate leaders to bring it up for a vote. The measure will likely face a tougher time in that chamber, where Republicans hold a three-vote advantage.
"We know that we need to embed in our Constitution that it's not just all men who are created equal, it is men and women who are created equal, it is people who are created equal," Rep. Rena Moran, DFL-St. Paul, said.
Opponents said the language in the bill, which would offer equality based on gender, wasn't clear and could roll back advances in women's rights. On Thursday, Republican lawmakers in the House aimed to amend the bill to ensure the protections were based on biological sex rather than gender and said they worried the change could affect abortion law.
Gov. Tim Walz held up a pen at the rally Friday and said he was ready to sign the bill if it could make it to his desk. The governor's signature isn't required to put the amendment on the ballot in 2020.
"Let's get this done. Send it to my desk, here's the pen, let's sign it," Walz said.
Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan said supporters would focus their lobbying efforts on Minnesota senators to take up and pass the bill.
"We're looking at you, Senate, because as Gov. Walz said, he would sign it," Flanagan said. "We know it is long overdue so it is time to say, 'Yes to ERA.'"