A coalition of progressive advocates with the backing of prominent Democratic elected officials in New York is launching a multimillion-dollar campaign to boost the prospects of adding the Equal Rights Amendment to the state constitution. 

Major money is being put behind the effort being launched by the group New Yorkers for Equal Rights. The coalition expects to spend at least $20 million, with plans to raise even more. 

The campaign is set to include TV ads, direct mail pieces as well as grassroots education in the lead-up to next year's vote. Voters next year will consider the amendment to the state constitution in a referendum. 

The effort is being led by prominent progressive organizations, abortion-rights groups and labor unions: 199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, Make the Road New York, NAACP New York, National Institute for Reproductive Health Action Fund, New Pride Agenda, New York Civil Liberties Union, New York Immigration Coalition, North Star, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, and Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts. 

The amendment also has the backing of key Democratic elected officials in New York, including Gov. Kathy Hochul, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and state Attorney General Letitia James.  

“No matter our gender, age, disability status, or cultural background, we all deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. That means we all have the right to control and make decisions about our own bodies, lives, and futures — including the right to abortion. But right now, New York’s State Constitution doesn’t protect all of us — including pregnant New Yorkers, women, LGBTQ+ people, disabled people, older adults, and people from different countries and cultures,” said New Yorkers for Equal Rights Campaign Director Sasha Neha Ahuja. “Without a constitutional amendment, politicians could roll back our fundamental rights any time. We just saw it happen with Roe. We need a constitutional amendment so our rights and freedoms are permanently protected in the State Constitution — no matter who is in office.”

The amendment gained steam last year in the Legislature after the U.S. Supreme Court moved to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision. 

Democrats and advocates are leaving little chance with the amendment after the failure of proposed amendments to the constitution that would have created no-excuse absentee voting, same-day voter registration and change the redistricting process. All of those measures had backing from Democratic elected officials, but advocates complained little work was done to push voters to back them while the Conservative Party conducted an extensive campaign against the amendments. 

The proposed amendment to enshrine equal rights is broadly worded and is meant to solidify an expansive set of rights for New Yorkers in the constitution. 

Republicans have opposed the amendment and have questioned its potential effect on the state. 

"Those of us who take our faith and our religion very seriously are very concerned about lawsuits against the church or against a certain faith or religion," Assemblyman Chris Tague said earlier this year.