Bill introduced to add equal rights amendment to Maine Constitution

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AUGUSTA, Maine (WABI) A public hearing was held Thursday on a bill calling for an equal rights amendment to Maine's Constitution.

Prior to the public hearing, a press conference was held by supporters of the amendment.

"The fact that equal protection for women and men is not a guarantee under the law is simply appalling and embarrassing, and that's what brings us here today," said Speaker of the House Sara Gideon, D-Freeport. "We are here to say that now is the time. Now is the time finally for an equal rights amendment."

The bill has over 100 co-sponsors.

"Adding this language would require states to intervene in cases of domestic violence and sexual harassment," said Gideon. "It would guard against pregnancy and motherhood discrimination. And when we get it passed in Congress, it would federally guarantee equal pay."

Advocates say it would make Maine the 38th state to pass similar legislation.

Governor Janet Mills testified in support of the bill.

"Soon we mark the 100th anniversary of womens' right to vote," said Mills. "It is only fitting in my view to make that year one of our right to equal protection enshrined in the Maine Constitution so that 100 years from now, our descendants and future citizens can say, 'What was all the fuss about?'"

If passed, the amendment would be voted on by Mainers next year.