It is big, really big.

Let’s be #38!

By

June Bohrer

When the Virginia General Assembly convenes in January, we will celebrate the 400th anniversary of legislative deliberations in Virginia.  Pretty impressive. However, we need not be too self-congratulatory as there is much work to be done. Education, health care, criminal justice reform, energy, and the environment all are major issues.

In this important anniversary year, Virginia has another opportunity to make history.  Let’s be #38. Let’s be the final state necessary to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. The amendment simply states “Equality of rights shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on the account of sex”.  It will provide a permanent, uniform, national standard for eliminating sex discrimination at all levels of government. Note it does not refer to the female gender in any way. This is about equality, not special treatment for women.  

Why is it necessary?  Antonin Scalia said it best.  “Certainly the Constitution does not require discrimination on the basis of sex. The only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn’t.  Nobody ever thought that’s what it meant.” Ruth Bader Ginsberg spent most of her career trying to get the Supreme Court to see gender in the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment but was never successful on that point.

The votes for passage are there in both the Senate and the House; the sticky wicket is the leadership in each chamber. Speaker of the House Kirk Cox, (delkcox@house.virginia.gov) is key.  He can put HJ 579 directly on the floor without assigning it to Committee. Please urge him to do this. In January of 2018, the legislation failed to be reported out of the House Privileges and Elections Committee on which Buddy Fowler (delbfowler@house.virginia.gov) sits and the Senate Rules Committee of which Ryan McDougle (district04@senate.virginia.gov) is the chair. Please let them know that we are watching and that we care about this vote.  

You can also help by going to varatifyera.com and signing the petition urging ratification. The organization it working toward 20,000 signatures statewide and 200 from each house district by January 9, 2019.  The website is loaded with great information and political strategies. Follow varatifyera.com on Facebook for events and track HJ 579 on lis.virginia.gov.