Attempts to maneuver the Equal Rights Amendment through Virginia’s GOP-controlled House of Delegates failed yesterday as Republican leaders blocked a floor vote on the measure. The Senate passed a similar measure in January.
The vote drew nationwide attention, partly because a woman protester bared her breast outside the Capitol and also because, if the measure had passed, Virginia would have been the 38th state to ratify the proposed amendment, assuming Gov. Ralph Northam (D) had signed it, as he almost certainly would have.
However, even if Virginia had passed the measure, it’s not clear that it would have had any effect. When Congress passed the ERA in 1972, it allowed seven years — until 1979 — for states to adopt it. Nevertheless, the defeat yesterday was bitter for ERA supporters, who vowed to seek revenge at the polls in November.
“Virginia House Republicans just blocked the #ERA from coming to the floor for a vote. Women will not forget. If we can’t change their minds, we will change their seats,” said Jennifer Carroll Foy, an ERA backer who took to Twitter to express her feelings.
Republicans were unswerving in their opposition to the bill despite polls showing that most Virginians favor extending equal rights to women.
A December 2018 poll by the Wason Center at Christopher Newport University found an overwhelming 81% of Virginians support the ERA, which may help it pass the General Assembly this time around.