Equal Rights Amendment Clears One Early Hurdle But Debate Continues

Jan 10, 2019

Delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy, D-Price William, cheers on Equal Rights Amendment demonstrators outside the Capitol in Richmond, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019.
Credit (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

It’s been decades since lawmakers first started debating the Equal Rights Amendment. And it’s a debate that’s still going strong.

The bell-bottoms are long gone, and Richmond doesn’t really have discotheques anymore. But the debate over the Equal Rights Amendment is still going strong, 40 years after it was first introduced. Governor Ralph Northam started the session by urging lawmakers to ratify it.

Kelly McGinn traveled to the Capitol from Northern Virginia to speak at a press conference opposing the ERA. “Referring only to equality of rights on account of sex, a term which enjoyed a common understanding in 1972 — a man or a woman — but does not in 2019," McGinn argued Thursday. "And this would be going in our Constitution, a vague undefined term.”

Virginia’s House of Delegates now has a transgender member — Danica Roem. She supports the ERA and she doesn’t think it’s confusing or vague. “Shall not discriminate on the basis of sex. Shall not. Period. It’s inclusive," Roem said. "And the goal is to be inclusive.”

A Senate panel approved the effort with a bipartisan vote Wednesday, sending it to the Senate floor.  Republican Senators Jill Vogel and Bill DeSteph joined the six Democrats on the committee to help the measure clear the first hurdle.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.