(Here is a letter to the editor I have just submitted to support ratification of the ERA.)
White women got the right to vote in 1920, 133 years after the Constitution was signed in Philadelphia and 129 years after the approval of the Bill of Rights. African-American women waited even longer, until the Voting Rights Act of 1965. These plain historical facts reveal to us the multiple gaps left by the Constitution’s framers and the ways in which we must encourage the document to catch up with and to reflect contemporary realities of citizens and citizenship.
The Equal Rights Amendment, a Republican endeavor of the 1970s, is still alive, well, and ready for even more support in the state of Virginia. Virginia could become the 38th state—the last one necessary—to ratify the ERA, following Illinois (2018) and Nevada (2017).
“Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of sex.” This simple text reminds us that women’s rights are civil rights and that strict scrutiny is needed for gender discrimination cases, as is already the case for race and religion.
84% of the 197 constitutions in the world guarantee gender equality, and all international constitutions since 1950 have included gender equality clauses. The ERA provides a national standard for the elimination of gender discrimination. In the United States, widespread, bipartisan support for the amendment speaks to the common-sense nature of it.
This is a great time for the United States to step up its game and ensure all citizens equality under the law. Virginians, let’s do our part! You can sign local and state petitions in support of the ERA, contact your delegate and the House Leadership every day, visit the General Assembly now or in the future to advocate for the amendment, write to Delegate M. Kirkland Cox, Speaker of the Virginia House, and spread the word to friends and neighbors of the Commonwealth.
Check out the VA Ratify ERA website.