By Shari Temple
Virginia ratified the Equal Rights Amendment on January 27 with a vote of 27-12 in the VA Senate and 58-40 in the VA House. It had full support from all Democrats and was also supported by several Republicans.
Unfortunately, although the final requirement for the ERA was met when Virginia became the 38thstate to ratify the amendment, it still has not been added to our Constitution.
On January 28, the required papers were sent from Virginia to the US Archivist. However, he refused to log it, since he had received a (non-binding) opinion from the Department of Justice that it should not be logged, due to the fact that the original 1982 deadline for its passage was in the preamble of the amendment.
On January 29, the Attorney Generals from Virginia, Illinois, and Nevada filed a joint lawsuit against the US Archivist, demanding that he log it and recognize the ERA as the 28thAmendment to the US Constitution. We are waiting for a decision on this from the US Archivist.
Although the coveted position to be the 38thstate has now been secured by Virginia, activists in other unratified states are still working to have the amendment ratified in their states. There are currently ERA bills introduced and under consideration in Arizona, Florida, Missouri, North Carolina, and Utah. There’s also activity to varying degrees in the other 7 unratified states – Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and South Carolina.
The US House passed HJR79 (the bill requiring ERA to be added to the Constitution once 38 states have ratified it) on February 13, 2010 (232-183). This could resolve the situation with the US Archivist. It will be sent to the Senate for a vote.
The US Senate now has 42 co-sponsors for SJR6 (the sister bill to HJR79). It is still in the Senate Judiciary Committee, with no scheduled hearing date.
How Can You Help?
If you vote in one of the 12 states that have not ratified the ERA, please contact your state legislative members to ask them to support the ERA.
Contact your US Senators to ask them to support SJR6 – or to thank them if they have already done so. Click here for details.