Statement by NOW President Toni Van Pelt:
RICHMOND, VA — Today’s formal ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) in Virginia is a cause for celebration. This day has been a long, long time coming, and credit for this historic victory is due to the new leadership of the Virginia legislature—and the groundswell of feminist activists and voters who put them there.
After successfully passing the state House and Senate on Jan. 15th, today’s crossover vote makes Virginia officially the 38th state needed to ratify the ERA—passing the three-fourths of the states threshold the U.S. Constitution requires for final adoption of an amendment. However, obstacles to certification remain, including an artificial timeline imposed in the preamble to the ERA in 1972. Now Majority Leader Mitch McConnell won’t let the Senate vote on a bill to remove that timeline, S.J.Res.6, even though it has two Republican co-sponsors, Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins.
While the timeline removal bill is not necessary—legal analysts have asserted that Article V of the Constitution does not permit the imposition of deadlines on the ratification process—it would provide extra insurance as the ERA certification process goes forward. NOW calls on Congress to act on S.J.Res.6 and correct the Constitution’s most glaring omission. It is simply never too late for equality.
A democracy that fails to include women in its founding document is a failed democracy. But today, Virginia women have shown how to rise up and put equality, reproductive rights and women’s justice at the front of the political agenda.
Kimberly Hayes, Press Secretary , email@example.com , 202-570-4745