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Virginia General Assembly Votes To Ratify Equal Rights Amendment

Women celebrate Virginia vote to ratify Equal Rights Amendment
Women celebrate Virginia vote to ratify Equal Rights Amendment on Wednesday. (Crixell Matthews / VPM)

The Virginia General Assembly voted to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment on Wednesday. The Senate passed a resolution support it in a 28 - 12 vote, while the House of Delegates passed it 59 - 41. 

While the resolutions, which are exactly the same, have already passed - they still need to cross over and be approved one more time by both chambers. That can happen as soon as tomorrow. Once ratified, the resolution goes to the U.S. archivist to be added to the Constitution. It does not need to be signed by the Governor before going to Washington.

“Equality must apply to your daughters as well as your sons,” Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy (D - Prince William) said on the floor. Carroll Foy is one of the sponsors of the bill

The ERA would guarantee equality for all Americans, regardless of sex. If Virginia passes the resolution, it will be the 38th and final state needed to add the amendment to the U.S. Constitution. 

Del. Vivian Watts (D - Fairfax) and her daughter have both rallied for the passage of the amendment. She said on the floor that “44 years is a long time to wait” for this moment.  

Opponents of the ERA argue it’s aimed at keeping abortion legal. And they say the amendment is no longer valid because the ratification deadline passed nearly 40 years ago.

Republicans, like Del. John McGuire (R- Chesterfield), say the ERA is not necessary to recognize women as equal and pointed out on the floor that the resolution has missed its deadline. 

Del. Margaret Ransone (R - Westmoreland) said “women can accomplish great things” and “have accomplished great things,” highlighting the women in leadership of the House of Delegates. On the floor, she said Congress should create a new ERA to send to the states instead of voting on the resolution   

The Virginia Senate passed the ERA last year during the 2019 session 26-14, with seven Republicans joining Democrats to pass it. The resolution failed to get enough support in the House of Delegates. 

Sen. Mamie Locke (D - Hampton) said Wednesday, “Equal means equal.” 

“I vowed to right this wrong,” she said. “Here we are, almost 50 years later trying to right the wrong.”

The ERA can still face other legal hurdles. Five states have that have already ratified the amendment want to rescind their votes. Last month, three conservative attorneys general – in Alabama, Louisiana and South Dakota – filed a federal lawsuit seeking to block the recording of Virginia’s ratification of the ERA. A counter lawsuit was also filed to make sure it is added. 

VPM Reporters Whittney Evans and Megan Pauly contributed to this reporting. 

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