Congressman Richard Hanna (R-NY) made a surprising request of women at a rally for the Equal Rights Amendment yesterday.  According to a report at Huffington Post, the Republican Representative told women to open their wallets, dig deep and donate their Democrats.

"I think these are very precarious times for women, it seems. So many of your rights are under assault," he said, "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."

Hanna is a pro-choice Republican and co-sponsor of the Equal Rights Amendment, which was passed by Congress in 1972, but which has yet to be ratified by the necessary 38 states to become established law.  He was joined at the rally by his colleague, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, also of New York.

From the podium, Maloney mused that politics and society would be different today had the ERA passed at its inception.  "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," Huffington Post quotes her as saying.

Hanna has broken with his party on women's issues, and urged women voters to throw their support behind the other side, perhaps in hopes of ultimately building a stronger Republican coalition.  Polls have shown that the GOP is hemorrhaging women voters since the party decided to make women's health issues into a major plank in its 2012 electoral platform.

"This is a dogfight, it's a fistfight, and you have all the cards," he said to the group of mostly female rally-goers, "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 asked by Huffington Post if this amounted to an attempt by Hanna to help "the other side," the Congressman replied, "I'm trying to help [the GOP].  I think it's the appropriate thing to do."

(image via Flickr Commons)