Virginia became the 38th state to approve an Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution with the legislature’s vote Monday — but it’s far from clear that the Constitution now has a 28th amendment.
Instead, the 27-12 vote by the state Senate, and a vote by the House expected later Monday in the House, are the kickoff to what’s expected to be years of litigation, as ERA backers fight an uphill battle to convince skeptical courts that an amendment everyone thought was dead 40 years ago can actually be revived.
Backers of Virginia’s effort were not dissuaded by the naysayers, insisting their action puts the amendment over the threshold needed to add the amendment to the founding document.
“It is our time to make this statement,” said Sen. Barbara Favola, Arlington Democrat.
Both chambers had voted earlier this month on separate — though equal — versions of the amendment. On Monday each approved the other’s legislation, and the ratification was complete.
Lawmakers said Gov. Ralph Northam plans to sign the ratifications, though that’s not necessary. The ratification was effective after the Senate voted Monday.
Sen. Amanda Chase, Chesterfield County Republican, said those touting the ERA as a solution to inequality of women “look naive and uneducated.” She pointed out the amendment doesn’t actually use the word “women,” but rather protects “equality of rights … on account of sex.”
“The vague, poorly written language of the ERA does not allow any distinction to be made between men and women even when it makes sense to do so,” Ms. Chase said.
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