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Effort to ratify Equal Rights Amendment getting a renewed push in Congress

women equality
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The House of Representatives has approved a joint resolution that would remove a deadline for states to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment.

The House voted 222-204 to pass the measure, which was similar to a joint resolution the chamber had passed in its last session, but failed in the then-Republican-led Senate.

The new 50-50 Senate, with Vice President Kamala Harris as a possible tie-breaking vote, offers the measure new life.

The Virginia General Assembly voted in 2020 to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, making Virginia the 38th state to do so, and setting up the ongoing political fight to see the amendment added to the U.S. Constitution.

The Trump administration responded to the move with a legal opinion that the effort initiated in 1972 had timed out.

Thirty-five states voted to ratify the amendment in the 1970s, three states short of what was needed to ultimately add the amendment to the Constitution.

A renewed effort in recent years led to Nevada approving the ERA in 2017, and Illinois did the same in 2018, leaving the amendment one state vote of approval short, assuming no time deadline had passed.

Both the U.S. House and U.S. Senate approved the amendment in 1972, with a seven-year deadline for the necessary number of states to sign on.

That deadline was later extended to 1982.

The House Judiciary Committee voted in 2019 to retroactively remove to the ratification deadline.

There Virginia congresswomen, Second District Democrat Elaine Luria, Seventh District Democrat Abigail Spanberger, and 10th District Democrat Jennifer Wexton, issued a joint statement on the pending House vote.

The three are all original cosponsors of the resolution, H.J. Res. 17, which would remove the deadline for the ratification of the ERA.

“Last year, we watched Virginia make history by becoming the 38th state in the union to ratify the ERA, hitting the federal threshold for ratification. This decades-long push was led by mothers, daughters, sisters, and granddaughters in the Commonwealth, and it is thanks to their efforts that Virginia holds a momentous chapter in the story of this movement.

“However, the outdated ratification deadline on the ERA still presents a major barrier to guaranteeing that all Americans — no matter their sex — are protected under our Constitution. Congress has the power to change this arbitrary expiration date, and today, we will vote on legislation that takes the long overdue step of repealing the deadline on ratification. There should be no deadline on equality.

“For more than 100 years, this fight to achieve equal protections under the law has been galvanized by the hard work and relentless commitment of women and men who never stopped believing in the promise of equality. Our three votes on this legislation are dedicated to the Virginians who organized, marched, and advocated for progress. We have faith that they will soon see ratification, and we — the three women of Virginia’s congressional delegation — are proud to take another step towards making the ERA the 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.”

Eighth District Democrat Don Beyer also issued a statement on the vote today.

“I am very proud that the Commonwealth of Virginia was the 38th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, but we must permanently remove the deadline for state ratification and provide an essential legal remedy against gender discrimination,” Beyer said. “The words, ‘women shall have equal rights in the United States and every place subject to its jurisdiction. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex,’ belong in the United States Constitution.”

Also voting with the majority was Fourth District Democrat Donald McEachin.

“As Virginia proved last year, there is no time limit on equality. Women have waited hundreds of years to be recognized and protected as equals, and today, Congress made it clear that American women deserve equal rights,” McEachin said,. “Since my time in the General Assembly, I have strongly advocated for ratification of the ERA, and I am proud to have joined my colleagues in passing legislation to ensure that every woman in Virginia and across our country receives the equal protection of the law that the ERA and Constitution demand.”

Story by Chris Graham

augusta free press
augusta free press