Newsletter: January 10, 2020 – What a week for the ERA!

What a week for the ERA! 

Virginia took its first step towards ratification yesterday when the Senate Privileges & Elections Committee convened a special hearing and voted to send SJ Res 1, the resolution to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, to the floor.

Chief Patrons Senator Jennifer McClellan and Senator Mamie Locke passionately spoke in favor of ratification to the committee:

“Today, we begin the process to ensure that Virginia will make history as the 38th state to ratify the ERA,” said Senator McClellan. “It is long past due to enshrine the rights of women into the Constitution of the United States. We have waited too long and the time is now.”

“As a nation, we continue to improve our Constitution to reflect our ideals,” said Senator Locke, in reference to Virginia’s ratification of the ERA.

As you may have heard, on Wednesday, January 8th, amidst the excitement of opening day of the General Assembly in Richmond, where legislators are continuing the process of becoming the 38th and final state needed for ratification, the Department of Justice issued an opinion: because of the time limit issue, the legislators needn’t bother. The response from the ERA community is unified: We’re not slowing down!

The ERA Coalition issued a prompt response: The ERA Coalition strongly disagrees with the Office of Legal Counsel’s opinion that the time limit on ERA ratification cannot be removed. We call on Congress to redouble its efforts to remove the time limit and we call on all remaining 13 states to ratify the ERA following the lead of Nevada, Illinois and soon Virginia. This OLC opinion is not binding on Congress, the courts, or the states that have expressed their ongoing will to give women constitutional equality. Read the full statement, along with comments from Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean of UC Berkeley Law School and member of the ERA Coalition Legal Task Force here.

As did Congresswoman Jackie Speier, whose bill to remove the ratification time limit from the ERA, HJ Res 79, awaits a full floor vote in the House of Representatives: read her response here

And Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, long time ERA advocate and Chair of the Congressional Oversight Committee, read her response here.

We remain committed to passage of HJ Res 79 and SJ Res 6, companion bills to remove the deadline from the ERA. There is still time to sign our petition to Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Hoyer to schedule a full floor vote on HJ Res 79.

We stand with our partners in Virginia, where in Richmond, the ERA bills in the Senate and House of Delegates began moving through committees. For up to date information, please continue to check the website of our Lead Organization VARatifyERA.org. The Senate has voted its bill out of committee and expects to begin the three required readings next week and vote on January 15th. The House is close behind. Chief Patron of the ERA bill in the House, Jennifer Carroll Foy says:

“I’m proud to introduce the resolution to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment because the ERA is a way to further gender equality. For too long, women have not had the protections from discrimination we deserve in the U.S. Constitution, and with passage of the ERA, we’ll be that much closer to living in a world where women and girls have the same opportunities as men,” said Del. Carroll Foy. “Virginia has been on the wrong side of history for too long – from fighting against interracial marriage, desegregation, and giving women the right to vote. With passage, Virginia will finally be on the right side of history, and our actions will affect millions across the country. We can’t afford to let this opportunity pass us by.”

While in Virginia, we met with the state’s Solicitor General, Toby Heytens, along with Deputy Solicitor General Michelle Kallen and Assistant Solicitor General, Jessica Merry. We will keep you posted on their next steps. The Attorney General issued this response:

“When Virginia becomes the 38th state to ratify the ERA I am going to do everything in my power to make sure that the will of Virginians is carried out and the ERA is added to our Constitution, as it should be.”  

Our meeting in Richmond on Tuesday the 7th with the Editorial Board of the state’s most powerful paper, the Richmond Times-Dispatch resulted in a headline editorial on the 8th,”Equal Rights Amendment: It’s Time” and quoted the Coalition. The full editorial is here

Thank you for your continued dedication to equality. We are optimistic we will prevail. We are so thankful to have you with us in this great fight.

In solidarity, 

Carol Jenkins
CEO & Co-President
ERA Coalition/Fund for Women’s Equality

Thank you for your support.