RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A crowd gathered outside the State Capitol on Wednesday in support of passing the Equal Rights Amendment in Virginia. Hope that the amendment could pass, which would make Virginia the 38th state to do so, has been restored after Democrats flipped the Virginia General Assembly.
In order for the ERA to be a constitutional amendment, two-thirds of country’s state legislators — 38 — need to ratify the measure. The amendment would guarantee equal rights for all U.S. citizens regardless of gender.
“Constitutional equality is the gold standard,” said Anna Bradley, a supporter of ERA ratification. “Anything less than that leaves women in a subordinate position.”
Last year, an effort to revive the passage of the ERA failed by one vote.
Some critics have argued that there are many problems with the amendment. Those who are against the passing the ERA told 8News they believe it’s harmful because it would ignore differences between men and women.
“It breaks down our societal understanding of equality that embraces the wonderful uniqueness of women,” President of The Family Foundation Victoria Cobb said Wednesday.
Opponents argue it would harm and disempower women, and would make laws that are made to protect women illegal.
“The ERA would also destroy those places where our laws say it is appropriate to separate men from women, like domestic violence shelters,” said Cobb.
Some also argue it would remove the right to vote on abortion. Since sexes would have equal rights under the ERA, critics believe judges would have to strike down anti-abortion laws. Legally, opponents argue the deadline has passed.
“As it stands today, the ERA is legally dead. Following the constitutional process, congress required ratification done by the state legislatures within seven years. The ERA’s deadline, including a purported extension of that deadline has come and gone since 1982,” said Kristen Waggoner from Alliance Defending Freedom.
Waggoner also pointed out on Wednesday that the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel confirmed that in an opinion.
People in support of the ERA argue other amendments have taken years to ratify.
“We know that the 27th Amendment, the last amendment, took over 200 years to be ratified,” said Bradley.
Some proponents of the ERA anticipate it will pass in Virginia this month. Legal experts have said it’s unclear what would happen if it were to pass.
“We are so close now to putting women in the constitution,” said Kobby Hoffman from the National Organization of Women.
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