As the only Republican Congressman at a rally for the Equal Rights Amendment on Thursday, Rep. Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.) gave women an unexpected piece of advice: Give your money to Democrats.
“I think these are very precarious times for women, it seems. So many of your rights are under assault,” he told the crowd of mostly women. “I’ll tell you this: Contribute your money to people who speak out on your behalf, because the other side — my side — has a lot of it. And you need to send your own message. You need to remind people that you vote, you matter, and that they can’t succeed without your help.”
The Equal Rights Amendment, which Congress passed in 1972 but has not yet been ratified by the necessary 38 states, simply says that equality under the law “shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of sex.” Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) reintroduced the legislation this year in hopes that it would finally become a part of the Constitution.
“If equality had been enshrined in the Constitution for these past 40 years, I wonder if we would still be hearing today from right-wing presidential contenders that women should not serve in combat, that women should think twice before they seek to work outside of the house, that women should not use birth control, and that women who do are called names that are not fit to repeat here,” Maloney said at the rally.
Hanna, a pro-choice Republican and co-sponsor of the Equal Rights Amendment, acknowledged that women’s continuing fight for equality is meeting some resistance among his Republican colleagues. He urged women to become more politically active on their own behalf.
“This is a dogfight, it’s a fistfight, and you have all the cards,” he said. “I can only tell you to get out there and use them. Tell the other women, the other 51 percent of the population, to kick in a few of their bucks. Make it matter, get out there, get on TV, advertise, talk about this. The fact that you want [the ERA] is evidence that you deserve it and you need it.”
When HuffPost asked Hanna after the rally whether he was bucking his party by encouraging women to give their money to “the other side,” he said that he wasn’t.
“I’m trying to help [the GOP],” he said. “I think it’s the appropriate thing to do.”