The state Democrats are now pushing to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). With this, Virginia will become the 38th state to ratify ERA, paving the path for a constitutional amendment.
The amendment ensures that no citizen undergoes discrimination due to their gender. In the past 47 years, 37 states have ratified the amendment, with Illinois being the latest state to ratify the ERA in May 2018.
However, some uncertainty still surrounds the constitutional amendment of the ERA as Idaho, Kentucky, Nebraska, Tennessee, and South Dakota have voted to withdraw their ratification. Moreover, the two expired deadlines for Equal Rights Amendment also make the legality of ratification by Virginia, controversial.
The upcoming House Speaker, Eileen Filler-Corn said that the ERA will be a top priority when the state legislature reconvenes in January. Filler-Corn is the first Jewish woman to hold the designation in 400 years of the House’s history.
She said, “Our Democratic delegates, incumbents and the candidates made it clear that ERA ratification is a priority. 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 January.”
On the other hand, GOP House Majority Leader Del. Todd Gilbert said that the Equal Rights Amendment can lead to “an unfettered right to an abortion, right up until the moment of birth and at taxpayer expense”. However, the text in the amendment does not refer to abortions.
According to Jesse Ferguson, the Democratic strategist, voicing concerns for ERA helped the Democrats gain complete control of both the houses in the state elections, this year.
He said, “For voters, especially women voters who were critical to flipping the chambers, the debate around the ERA crystallized the stakes. It’s an issue that mattered to voting turnout and persuading swing voters who believe that it’s long past time to pass the ERA.”
Even though more than a month remains for the state legislature to reconvene, the Equal Rights Amendment might be the first act for the Democrat-controlled legislature to be approved and ratified.
Since the state Democrats have already filed legislation for the next session of the legislature with ERA being the top priority, all that remains now to look forward to is how much longer the voters, especially women have to wait for the amendment to be passed and approved.