Virginia Dels. Hala S. Ayala (D-Prince William) and Marcus B. Simon (D-Fairfax) filed bills last week to enable the Virginia House of Delegates to vote on ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment [“Inside Virginia’s Capitol, a legislative duel over the ERA,” Metro, Feb. 15]. A few delegates are holding the amendment in committee, stalling the desire for the ERA expressed by 81 percent of Virginiansin a recent poll by the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University.
The ERA, already passed by Congress and ratified by 37 of the 38 states required, states: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.”
Virginia has the opportunity to be the 38th and final state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. This would be fitting.
Virginians started in the New World with a proud record, forming the first democratically elected state legislature in the country, drafting the Bill of Rights and leading the way to individual liberties. They followed this with an abysmal record on civil rights, being late to ratify constitutional amendments recognizing legal rights for people of color and women.
By protecting against government discrimination, the ERA would start to restore Virginia’s mantle as a crucible of freedom from unreasonable government interference. It is time to move forward. The commonwealth has evolved. The Equal Rights Amendment, and the bills to move it to the floor, are ready for passage. Let’s rebuild Virginia’s legacy.
Julia Tanner, Arlington
The writer is the ERA Committee chair of the League of Women Voters of Arlington.