House vote is next step toward ERA ratification

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The U.S. House voted today to approve a measure to remove the ratification deadline on adding the Equal Rights Amendment to the United States Constitution.

The Virginia General Assembly made the Commonwealth the 38th state to ratify the proposed amendment with votes in the House of Delegates and Senate last month.

The Trump administration has said in a legal opinion that the effort initiated in 1972 has 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 November to retroactively remove to the ratification deadline.

A trio of Virginia congresswomen – Elaine Luria, Abigail Spanberger and Jennifer Wexton – are all original cosponsors of the resolution, H.J. Res. 79, which would remove the deadline for the ratification of the ERA.

H.R. Res. 79 is led by Congresswoman Jackie Speier, D-Calif.

Luria, Spanberger and Wexton issued a joint statement on today’s House vote:

“Equality should have no expiration date. As the three women of Virginia’s congressional delegation, we find ourselves positioned at a unique moment in our nation’s history. As lawmakers, we feel the momentum of this decades-long movement of mothers, daughters, and sisters who’ve fought for their equality and their protection under our laws. And as Virginians, we are proud to represent our districts in light of our Commonwealth becoming the 38th state in the union to ratify the ERA last month.

“Last week, we all received the physical copies of Virginia’s ERA ratification documents. These proclamations are more than pieces of parchment—they are a symbol of long overdue progress and a reminder of our unpaid debt to the women and men who strove for constitutional equality generations before. In a matter of hours, Congress will move one step closer toward enshrining the idea that all Americans—no matter their sex—are protected under our Constitution.

“By removing the deadline for ratification, Virginia’s role as the 38th state to ratify the ERA will be noted in history. Today’s vote in the House is dedicated to the Virginians who advocated in the halls of power, marched alongside their fellow organizers, educated their neighbors, and inspired others to pursue the cause of equality over the last 100 years. Only through their boundless determination could we have reached this moment.”

Story by Chris Graham


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