Va. Senate approves resolution to ratify Equal Rights Amendment
The state Senate has approved a resolution that would make Virginia the 36th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the amendment to guarantee women equal protection under the law that was first approved by Congress in 1972.
The ERA amendment has been previously ratified by 35 states -- three short of the 38 necessary for inclusion in the Constitution.
The full Senate has not considered ERA ratification since 1980, when it died on the floor after one senator abstained on the grounds that having a wife and daughters made him lack objectivity.
A time-limit imposed by Congress for ratifying the amendment has since expired. But Sen. Patsy Ticer (D-Alexandria), the bill's sponsor, explained to colleagues that an attorney general's ruling in the 1990s indicated that the amendment can still be ratified by states because such a clause can be disregarded by Congress if it was not a part of the original proposed constitutional amendment.
The Senate adopted the resolution on a vote of 24 to 16, with two Republicans crossing party lines to support it. Afterward, Senate Democratic Chairman Mary Margaret Whipple (D-Arlington) recalled that as a young mother in the 1970s, she used to drive to Richmond from Arlington to stand in silent protest outside the General Assembly and call on legislators to approve the amendment.
"This is a good step in the right direction," she said.
The measure faces a tough road in the GOP-held House of Delegates, where resolutions to ratify the amendment have never emerged from committees and onto the floor. This year, a measure sponsored by Democrat Del. Mark Sickles (Fairfax) died in a subcommittee. Those who oppose the ERA amendment believe women are already protected under other provisions of the constitution that guarantee all citizens equal rights.
Rosalind S. Helderman
| February 7, 2011; 5:59 PM ET
Categories: Rosalind Helderman
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