As women all over the world marched in support of women’s equality and intersectional issues on Saturday, famed attorney Gloria Allred spoke in Utah to remind us of something pretty harrowing: that women’s rights and equality aren’t guaranteed under the Constitution. Her speech laid out the fact that the Equal Rights Amendment has yet to be ratified; if it were, it would officially eliminate legal distinctions between men and women in terms of employment, divorce, and property—and give equal rights to all citizens in the Constitution regardless of sex.
Allred has made her career by representing women in high-profile sexual harassment cases, including dozens of women who accused Bill Cosby of sexual misconduct as well as Apprentice contestant Summer Zervos, who claims that Donald Trump defamed her after she publicly accused him of sexual assault. Her speech at the Respect Rally at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, was a glimpse at just how powerful and compelling she must be on the stand—and a call to action for those watching in the crowd and at home.
“This entire year has been the winter of our discontent,” she said. “But it is also the year of our awakening to the lack of respect and the denial of our rights. This marks the end of fear being used as a tool to silence women.”
As Allred listed the rights for which women have been marching, she led the crowd in a chant: “Resist, insist, persist, elect.”
She then called for Utah to pass the Equal Rights Amendment, which was proposed by suffragist leader Alice Paul in 1923 after women’s right to vote was ratified in 1920. In 1972 the ERA was passed by Congress and 35 states ratified it by 1982. Last year Nevada became the thirty-sixth state. However, 38 states are required to introduce the amendment into the Constitution.
“And we demand the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment: The equality of rights shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex,” Allred demanded, quoting the amendment’s text.
The crowd cheered and chanted when Allred asked that Utah become the thirty-seventh state to ratify the ERA.
“Let me tell you no one has ever given women their rights,” she said. “We have been fighting for almost 95 years just to put women in the Constitution to protect the rights of our daughters and we are going to have it.”
Watch her speech here:
(P.S. If you want more Allred—and who doesn’t?—a Netflix documentary about her career as a feminist lawyer, Seeing Allred, premieres February 9.)
–How Phyllis Schlafly’s Death Proves We Need the Equal Rights Amendment Now More Than Ever–These Emotional Celebrity Speeches From the 2018 Women’s March Will Get You Fired Up–Roxane Gay: The Women’s March Was Messy and Imperfect, But a Good Start