This afternoon, I joined a packed audience at the Bethlehem Baptist Church in Alexandria on Women’s Equality Day for a special showing of the film “Iron Jawed Angels.” The hosts were Virginia State Senator Scott Surovell and Del. Kathy Tran, along with special guest Alyssa Milano, an actor and also an activist, among other things on AIDS, tropical diseases, the Syrian civil war, animal welfare, and sexual harassment/assault/the #metoo movement. Plus, of course, Milano is a big advocate for ratifying the Equal Rights Amendent (ERA), which is why she was at today’s event.
The first video is of Sen. Surovell and Del. Tran, talking about why it’s so important that Virginia ratify the ERA and that the ERA become part of the U.S. constitution. As Del. Tran explained, “the systemic and cultural sexism that we continue to deal with is why it’s so important that we pass the ERA...because we are still fighting for equal pay for equal work…to make sure that we are able to own and make decisions about our own bodies…[that we have] access to health care…[and to] safe work environments.”
For his part, Sen. Surovell explained why the ERA is still very much alive.
“Number one is Congress put a deadline on there, Congress can change the deadline, and Congress is about to change…For those of you have friends who are strict constructionists…you ought to remind them that there’s nothing in the constitution that said they can put a deadline on a constitutional amendment…it took 214 years to ratify [the 27th amendment]…”
As for what’s going on in Richmond, Sen. Surovell said the key is putting public pressure on Republicans, who have stacked the committees in the House of Delegates and State Senate, to schedule a hearing in the House and to change a few Republican votes in the Senate. According to Sen. Surovell, the only right spelled out in the constitution for women is the right to vote, but there’s nothing in there about discrimination by the government (e.g., military, health care), which is why we need the ERA. Sen. Surovell said people need to spread the word, educate people on how important this is, contact your state legislator, and come to Richmond this coming January to lobby legislators.
Last but not least, Alyssa Milano said that the movie showed how far we’ve come, but also how far we still have to go. Milano said it’s “unbelievable…that in 2018, more than 100 years after Alice Paul started the fight for women’s equality, that we have to sit in this church and have this conversation.” Milano stressed that the next step beyond “me too” is to get the ERA ratified, to get women’s equality in the constitution. “We have one state left to go…it should be Virginia…you guys are so close…we have a chance in Virginia to make history…to be the 38th and final state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment.”
Let’s do it!
Kicking off the official campaign to #VARatifyERA this year with @Alyssa_Milano @ssurovell @KathyKLTran We have the chance to make history and be the 38th state needed. Sign up for updates and to help at https://t.co/k96lhRBIMB pic.twitter.com/We8xojKO7w
— VAPLAN (@vaplan2018) August 26, 2018