January 27, 2020: Victory in Virginia, the 38th State Ratifies ERA

January 27, 2020: Victory in Virginia, the 38th State Ratifies ERA
January 27, 2020 Robert Wood

VICTORY. Virginia just became the 38th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment.

It is January 27th, 2020 and both the chambers of the Virginia state legislature have voted “yes” on HJ1 (58-40) and SJ1 (27-12), formally ratifying the ERA.

“This moment has been a long time coming, but finally the United States can emerge from the shame and shadow of its historic discrimination against women and girls and join the 21st century by providing all Americans with equal rights and protections under our Constitution regardless of sex. Equality warriors everywhere should be proud of their steadfast efforts in the face of continuous challenges and deliberate misinformation from our enemies and a collective pessimism within the women’s movement on achieving the three states needed to complete ERA” , said Equal Means Equal President Kamala Lopez.

The DOJ’s lawyer at our hearing in the First Circuit (listen here) argued that the DOJ does not believe that women are being harmed by non-publication of the ERA — he also said that states that oppose the ERA would be harmed if the ERA were published because states would have to begin fixing their discriminatory laws.

Think about that: Our United States Department of Justice thinks it would be burdensome for states to ensure that women have full equality under all laws; and not burdensome for women to have to endure the unequal treatment stemming from not fixing those laws. Huh. OK.

The DOJ also submitted the unconstitutional D.C. District Court Opinion in Virginia, et al. v. Ferraro in our case as supplemental authority for their argument against the ERA!

Equal Means Equal successfully carried out a strategy to get the last three states to ratify ERA, including Nevada and Illinois, along with Virginia.

“We dedicated our lives to this fight moving all over the country and took to fight to front lines of the unratified states. First we asked for Equal Rights and when they voted no we moved the fight to the ballot box turning out record numbers of voters by educating them on the ERA,” said Equal Means Equal Vice President Natalie White.

After moving to Virginia for the 2019 elections and helping to flip General Assembly seats in the region it covered, Equal Means Equal team returned to the state for the opening of the Virginia General Assembly last week. We attended rallies and other events, stood vigil and recruited volunteers while in Richmond, all on behalf of ERA ratification.

Now the focus returns to the lawsuit filed by Equal Means Equal last week in U.S. District Court in Boston. Along with a group of Massachusetts high school students, and a woman attacked on a college campus, Equal Means Equal is suing to prevent a Trump administration official from blocking efforts to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, arguing that the congressionally imposed ERA ratification deadline is unconstitutional.

The lawsuit calls on the courts to compel the Archivist of the United States to officially record the ERA as the 28th amendment to the US Constitution now that Virginia has become the 38th state to ratify.

“Our lawsuit clears the way to ensure ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment, and to prevent the Trump administration from interfering with women’s hard-fought battle for their rightful place in the US Constitution,” said Wendy Murphy, legal counsel for Equal Means Equal.

lthough long in the works, the complaint filed in the US District Court in Boston by Equal Means Equal is a direct challenge to the Trump Administration’s refusal to recognize the ERA as a valid constitutional amendment, and to a recent anti-ERA lawsuit brought by the attorneys general of Alabama, Louisiana and South Dakota. Equal Means Equal’s lawsuit also asks the court to prevent the Archivist from recording attempts by several states to rescind their prior ratifications of the ERA.

Our court battle will be long, hard and complicated. We expect a protracted and costly fight in the federal courts, spread over several states. Our opposition is organized, well financed and committed to doing all in its power to block the ERA. We cannot win this fight without your help. Your kind support is the only way we can prevail. Please support this essential final fight for equality.

With love and thanks

Kamala, Natalie and EME team

PS: Your generous tax-deductible contributions are an investment in our results-driven organization on the front lines of the fight for equality. Any amount is greatly appreciated, but for donations of $500 or more we’ll send you our exclusive (and very popular!) handmade Equal Means Equal hoodie as a special thank you.