The Equal Rights Amendment May Pass Now. It’s Only Been 96 Years.

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tags: Virginia, womens history, Equal Rights Amendment

Of all the things that Virginia may pass now that Democrats have won control of the state legislature, none have been so long in the making as the Equal Rights Amendment.

First proposed almost a century ago and passed by Congress in 1972, the constitutional amendment — whose main clause reads, “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex” — has sweeping implications.

For women, it would bolster pay equity, domestic violence laws and pregnancy discrimination protections, among many other things. It could also affect men, such as by guaranteeing paid paternity leave equal to maternity leave.

The amendment was ratified by only 35 of the necessary 38 states before a 1982 deadline. Nearly four decades later, in 2017, Nevada became the 36th. In 2018, Illinois was the 37th. Now, Virginia’s incoming Democratic leaders have promised to take it up immediately when the legislature convenes in January — and given that it failed in the Virginia Senate by only one vote when the body was under Republican control, passage is almost assured.

“If we get it to the floor and let people vote, then it will become law,” Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, told reporters on Wednesday. “Virginia will be next in line to pass the E.R.A.”

Advocates, almost giddy in interviews, said ratification seemed more likely than it had at any point in the past 40 years.

Read entire article at NY Times

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