Virginia targets historic push on Equal Rights Amendment for women

Source: The Hill | December 1, 2019 | Rachel Frazin

The election of a Democratic legislature in Virginia is breathing new life into a decades-long push for the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), which would enshrine equality for women into the U.S. Constitution.

Ratifying the ERA, a long-standing goal for women’s rights advocates, needs approval from just one more state to cross the three-fourths threshold of support needed to become a constitutional amendment. 

Proponents believe ERA will protect women from discrimination and gender-based violence at a time of heightened sensitivity to women’s issues sparked by the #MeToo movement. 

And they are hopeful that Virginia will become the 38th state that could ratify the ERA, completing a necessary step needed for a constitutional amendment, after advocates campaigned hard on the issue during the elections in November that gave Democrats control of the legislature for the first time in decades.

Incoming Virginia House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn (D), the first woman to hold the title, told The Hill in an interview that ratifying the ERA will be a “top priority” when the new legislature convenes next year.

“Our Democratic delegates, incumbents and the candidates made it clear that ERA ratification is a priority,” Filler-Corn said.

“It’s past time that women are included in the founding document of our country and we’ll continue this fight until it’s won, and quite clearly that will be very soon after we gavel in in January,” the Speaker-elect added.

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The ERA would insert into the Constitution that “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex” and gives Congress the power to enforce this.

Jessica Neuwirth, the co-president of the ERA Coalition, which advocates for the amendment’s ratification, says it will create a “more effective legal recourse for women who are subject to various forms of violence and discrimination.” 

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