October 06, 2019

Push for ERA: Virginia voters could take it over the top

Count them: 4,764 postcards signed and sent by Democrats Abroad to Virginia voters in a push to (finally) ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. With all positions in the Virginia House and Senate up for election on November 5, it’s an opportunity to flip two Republican-held seats. Virginia House chair Kirk Cox, in fact, has made it his business to block passage of the ERA for the past several years. “It would be a pleasure for us to help kick him out,” says Shari Temple, DA Global IT Team chair, who worked with VAratifyERA to spearhead DA’s postcard-writing campaign in September. With 58 Dems Abroad volunteers and teams working around the globe, more than 2,700 cards were posted to Cox’s district, another 2,000-plus sent to Republican Chris Jones’ district. “The original goal was to do 2,000 and we overachieved that!” says Temple. (DA Canada members signed and posted 800 of those cards, with 400 sent by the Hamilton/Burlington chapter alone.) If Democrats replace Republicans in both districts, “there’s a high probability that Virginia will become the 38th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment,” Temple explains.

Many think the ERA passed long ago, that it was a “seventies thing.” In fact, according to a New York Times piece published earlier this year, 80 percent of Americans “mistakenly believe that women and men are guaranteed equal protection under the United States Constitution.” But the only right the Constitution explicitly extends to women is the right to vote. While Congress passed the ERA in 1973, it then had to be ratified by three-quarters (numbering 38) of the states. Thanks to Phyllis Schlafly, a Republican anti-feminist, the amendment was derailed 45 years ago. But supporters never gave up hope that it would eventually become an amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Now Virginia voters are poised to take it over the top, with DA members around the world giving it an extra little push.