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Virginia lawmakers vote to become pivotal 38th state to ratify ERA

In case you missed it, the newly Democratic Virginia legislature has voted to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. The measure passed, however, with the support of 11 Republicans. Reporter Ned Oliver of the Virginia Mercury reports:

Advocates erupted in cheers as the Virginia House of Delegates adopted the Equal Rights Amendment on Wednesday. (Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury)

Cheers erupted at the Capitol as the Equal Rights Amendment cleared both chambers of the General Assembly on Wednesday, making Virginia the 38th and final state needed to ratify the amendment enshrining gender equality in the Constitution.

Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, D-Prince William, who sponsored the ERA resolution as one of the first women to attend the previously all-male Virginia Military Institute, spoke about the uneven history of equality in Virginia, a state that fought against women’s suffrage, desegregation and interracial marriage. The ERA vote, she said, was “the vote of a lifetime.”

“It’s Virginia again on the battleground of equality,” Carroll Foy said. “I don’t know about you, but I think it’s right on time for Virginians to finally be on the right side of history.”

For now, the vote remains largely symbolic. The National Archives and Records Administration, which is responsible for certifying the ratification of constitutional amendments, said it will abide by a legal opinion issued by the Justice Department last week that said the ERA is no longer a valid amendment because a deadline imposed by Congress has expired, according to the Associated Press.

Advocates plan to challenge the deadline in court. Meanwhile, Democrats in Congress are pursuing legislation to remove the deadline

The uncertainty did not dampen celebration at the Capitol.

Click here to read the rest of the story.

ERA proponents in North Carolina welcomed the news. This is from the League of Women Voters of Wake County:

League of Women Voters Applauds Virginia for Ratification of ERA

RALEIGH, NC, January 15, 2020 – The League of Women Voters of Wake County (LWV-Wake) applauds the state of Virginia upon its ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). Virginia is now the 38th state to have ratified the ERA, which meets the threshold for adoption of an amendment under Article V of the US Constitution.

The League of Women Voters, and the League of Women Voters of Wake County in particular, have been working to promote the ratification of the ERA in North Carolina since the amendment was approved by Congress and sent to the states in 1972. Over the last few months, volunteers from LWV-Wake repeatedly traveled to Virginia helping with the ratification effort there. The League of Women Voters of Wake County will continue to push the North Carolina General Assembly to ratify the ERA and will work to overcome any other barriers to certifying the ratification. As Dianna Wynn, President of the League of Women Voters of Wake County, says, “Including equal rights for women in the US Constitution is inevitable, just as the 19th Amendment guaranteeing women’s right to vote was inevitable. Our state did not ratify the 19th Amendment until 1971, which is a shameful part of our state history. We want North Carolina to be on the right side of history this time.”

Elaine Okal, Co-Chair of the ERA Committee for the League of Women Voters of Wake County, spent extensive time in Virginia this fall and winter to help the Virginia League and other organizations win ratification of the ERA in that state. Okal says, “It is past time for the US to include ‘Equality on the basis of sex’ in our Constitution. I am so very proud of all the women and men who have worked for this moment.”

“It is fitting that the 38th state has ratified the ERA in 2020, the 100th anniversary of both the 19th Amendment and the founding of the League of Women Voters,” says Sheila Denn, Co-Chair of the ERA Committee for the League of Women Voters of Wake County. “It is high time that women, who now make up more than half the workforce in the US, be treated equally under the law.”

The League of Women Voters of Wake County is a grassroots nonpartisan organization dedicated to encouraging citizens’ participation in government and understanding of important issues through education and advocacy. The League of Women Voters neither endorses nor opposes political parties or candidates for office. Learn more at www.lwvwake.org.

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