Opinion: Letter to the Editor: State Must Ratify ERA

Opinion: Letter to the Editor: State Must Ratify ERA

Across the state, Virginians are asking the General Assembly to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. Why now? Because only one more state is needed for full ratification. Virginia deserves that honor.

Our state constitution has protected Virginians against state government discrimination based on sex for almost half a century. This has not harmed us. We can be proud of our Commonwealth for its leadership and values.

We are not well protected against federal discrimination, however. Laws protecting equal rights are often under attack, and will benefit from the enduring bedrock of the Constitution.

Virginia has a long history of Constitutional amendment. James Madison brought George Mason’s Virginia Declaration of Rights into the U.S. Bill of Rights, protecting men against government overreach. The Equal Rights Amendment will clearly include women as well as men in these rights.

Why is amendment needed? The Amendment is clear: “Equal rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of sex.” It will provide Constitutional protection against government discrimination based on whether a person is a man or a woman, unless there are compelling reasons.

Ratification of the ERA is a legislative priority of the League of Women Voters of Virginia. And the door is open: Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring has indicated it appears Congress can extend or remove the deadline and count ratifications in the interim. The U.S. Archives rebutted claims that the ERA has been laid to rest.

Virginians are ready. Resolutions urging our General Assembly to ratify have been adopted by County Boards of Shenandoah, Fairfax, and Albemarle, and the city of Charlottesville. In Richmond, Republican lawmakers were joined by almost 600 Virginians for Women’s Equality Day. Thousands more gathered around the state.

This is a historic moment. The time is now. I urge our General Assembly to ratify the ERA in the coming session.

Joan Porte


Arlington Chapter of the League of Women Voters