A bill to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment in Virginia cleared its first hurdle this week. Proponents want to make Virginia the final, historic vote needed to add gender equality to the U.S. Constitution. Wednesday’s victory was met with pushback from conservative groups.
Virginia resident Kelly McGinn joined dozens of women from groups like The Family Foundation of Virginia and The Eagle Forum at a press conference Thursday to oppose the measure.
“The ERA is unnecessary in 2019,” McGinn said. “It’s not 1972. Women are already well-protected under the constitution.”
The text of the amendment, which Congress passed in 1972, declares that “equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State on account of sex”. Conservative groups fear the amendment would lead to integrated male-female prisons, an end to gender-specific laws like the pregnancy non-discrimination act and taxpayer-funded abortions.
“Equality between men and women is a core American value,” said Republican Senator Glen Sturtevant who sponsored the bill.
“Despite these protections that exist in federal and state law and in state constitutions, we all know in the General Assembly that federal and state law and state constitutions can and do change.” Sturtevant said. “And they’re changed pretty easily.”
The bill passed 8-6 in a Senate committee with the support of two Republicans and now moves to the full Senate for consideration.
The measure has passed the Senate in previous years. It is expected to face tougher scrutiny in the House of Delegates.