(With just 8 days left until the general election, now is the time to give everything you’ve got, to leave it all on the field. To help keep you motivated and focused, we’re running a quick series we’re calling “What’s At Stake Nov. 5th” highlighting a handful of reasons this election is so critically important to Virginians.)
February, 2018: over a hundred women’s rights activists squeezed into a Senate Rules Committee hearing room, where a resolution sponsored by Scott Surovell (D-36) to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment was to be heard. Ryan McDougle (R-04), chair of the committee refused to even take a vote on the resolution, claiming (later proven to be a lie) that the National Archives had informed him that it was a failed amendment, and therefore “wasn’t properly before the body.” They didn’t even have the courage to have their vote on whether women should be guaranteed equal rights in the constitution recorded! In a dramatic moment, Janet Howell (D-32) and Richard Saslaw (D-35) insisted on a show of hands vote. Nine of the eleven Republicans on the committee—all men—voted against equal rights for women. The motion failed 9-5. Later, across the building, Republicans on the House Privileges and Elections Committee similarly refused to even consider resolutions by Alfonso Lopez (D-49) and Kaye Kory (D-38).
Fast-forward to 2019: this time the Senate Republicans, realizing they were facing an election year, allowed a resolution to ratify the ERA to come for a vote in the Senate Privileges and Elections committee. The resolution was conveniently patroned by the most at-risk Republican senator, Glen Sturtevant (R-10). After it was reported out of the committee and passed the full Senate floor vote, it “crossed over” to the House for consideration. But once again, the resolution languished in the Republican-controlled House Privileges and Elections subcommittee. Delegate Margaret Ransone, chair of the subcommittee, implied that there was no need for the ERA, because she had managed to be successful without it. “With hard work and determination and a big heart, nothing is going to stop you either.” In the closing days of the General Assembly session, Delegates Hala Ayala (D-51) and Marcus Simon (D-53) tried a couple of last ditch parliamentary tricks to force a floor vote on the resolution—in what has to be construed as a vote on the ERA itself, all but the most at-risk Republican Delegate (who only held onto his seat in 2017 by virtue of his name being drawn out of a bowl after a tie vote) voted against equal rights for women.
We are not asking for something crazy, radical, or socialist here. We are asking for women to be written into the US Constitution as having equal rights. “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” Does that sound radical? No, it probably doesn’t sound radical to you—that’s why 81% of Virginians support ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment. EIGHTY-ONE PERCENT. Give these 81% of Virginians what they want: elect a Democratic majority on November 5th that will pass a resolution ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment so that Virginia can be the proud 38th and final state necessary.