VA House GOP kills Equal Rights Amendment; 2019 elections loom
After the final vote, ERA opponents in the gallery overlooking the chamber clapped.
Then an ERA supporter, also in the gallery, shouted, “Shame on Virginia!”
“I am disgusted by this vote, absolutely disgusted,” another yelled.
Introduced nearly a century ago by suffragist Alice Paul, the amendment would bar discrimination on account of sex. The lower chamber of the General Assembly has consistently thwarted a campaign by ERA activists to make Virginia the 38th — and theoretically the last — state needed to ratify the measure.
The vote was met with shouts of “Shame on Virginia!” and “You’re embarrassing!” from ERA advocates in the House gallery, as well as a smattering of applause from social conservatives who oppose the ERA.
Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, D-Prince William, who has championed the ERA, gave a floor speech Thursday in which she accused the “powerful men” opposing the ERA of giving in to the same type of fear that fueled Virginia’s Massive Resistance movement against school desegregation.
“Fear has caused this body to be on the wrong side of history too many times and for far too long,” Carroll Foy said. “...You can either walk in fear. Or you can walk in faith. And facts. And join the majority of states and our brothers and sisters on the Senate side, and pass the Equal Rights Amendment.”
The vote was followed by cries of “Shame on Virginia” from ERA advocates sitting in the House gallery.
Republicans like Yancey, who — perhaps anticipating the resolution would go nowhere — gave an impassioned speech about supporting the ERA on the House floor a month ago.
He and several others have said they support ratification and signed their names onto the ERA resolutions, either this year or in previous years, but they haven’t had a chance to cast their vote.
“You have to wonder why folks would copatron a bill and then not vote on it,” Simon said.
A renewed push to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment in Virginia has failed by a single vote.
The House of Delegates vote deadlocked 50-50 on a bid to force a full floor on the gender-equality measure Thursday. The tie vote meant the effort failed.
ERA proponents had hoped Virginia will become the 38th state to approve the amendment. It would then have met the threshold for ratification in the U.S. Constitution.
Thursday's move by Republicans effectively ends any chance of bringing the ERA up for a vote in Virginia's House of Delegates before the end of the legislative session. Democrats reacted to the news by vowing to retake the House of Delegates in November's statewide elections. The state Senate previously passed the amendment earlier in the legislative session.
“History will not remember members of this General Assembly favorably," Democratic state Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, one of the amendment's top supporters in Virginia, reportedly told lawmakers on the House floor after the amendment was kiled.
If time limits set by Congress are not an issue, ratification would have made Virginia the 38th and final state needed to ratify the amendment to put it in the U.S. Constitution.
After the House rejected all three rules changes related to the Equal Rights Amendment, supporters shouted “shame on Virginia” and “I’m disgusted” from the House gallery.
Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, a Democrat, said the amendment has everything to do with equality and nothing to do with abortion.
“Fear has caused this body to be on the wrong side of history, Mr. Speaker, too many times,” she said.
Virginia’s majority-Republican House of Delegates have blocked a vote to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment.
Jennifer Carroll Foy, a Democrat from Prince William County, spoke before the House voted and invited opponents of the ERA to “simply vote no on the Amendment” if they chose.
“But to fail to bring the Amendment up for a vote,” Carroll Foy said, “is ignoring 81 percent of all Virginians … and replacing your will for the will of the people.