ERA truck

UMW sophomore Madison Williams talks with students about the Equal Rights Amendment. The #IScream4Equality truck visited UMW Tuesday to hand out ice cream and information about the ERA. 

Summer may be unofficially over, but one ice cream truck is just starting its season.

The lavender-colored #IScream4Equality ice cream truck, operated by VARatifyERA, Virginia’s campaign to be the 38th and final state needed to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, stopped in Fredericksburg on Tuesday.

The University of Mary Washington and downtown Fredericksburg were the first stops on the truck’s tour of the commonwealth.

The goal is to visit all four-year and community colleges in the state before the Nov. 5 general election, campaign chair Kati Hornung said.

“We’re out spreading education and outreach about the Equal Rights Amendment,” Hornung said.

Volunteers wearing lavender #IScream4Equality T-shirts handed out ice cream sandwiches, Nestlé Drumsticks and fruit bars, as well as literature about the Equal Rights Amendment, which, if ratified, would be a constitutional guarantee of equal legal rights for all American citizens regardless of sex.

The ERA was passed by the Senate of Virginia last legislative session, but stalled in a House of Delegates committee chaired by Del. Mark Cole of Spotsylvania, who refused to schedule a vote on it.

A procedure to vote on the bill in the House without moving it out of committee also failed by one vote.

Congress passed the ERA in 1972 and then sent it to the state legislatures for ratification. Thirty-five states out of the necessary 38 ratified the amendment by 1977.

In 2017, Nevada became the 36th state to ratify the ERA; Illinois ratified it the following year.

Hornung said last year was the first time the Virginia House of Delegates had ever voted on the ERA.

She said that whether the amendment passes during the next legislative session depends on the results of the Nov. 5 election.

Hornung said many people are surprised to learn the Constitution does not already guarantee equal rights for women.

“Discrimination on the basis of sex is not treated the same as discrimination on the basis of race, religion or country of origin,” she said. “It gets a lower level of judicial scrutiny.”

Supporters say the inclusion of an equal rights amendment would require equal pay for equal work and offer stronger protection against sex-based discrimination and violence.

Volunteer Jessica Kugala of Fredericksburg was with the truck on the UMW campus Tuesday helping to hand out information about the ERA.

She said she supports it because of her 5-year-old daughter, Lily.

“I would like her to see equal pay for equal work,” she said. “I struggle with that right now as a working mom, and I don’t want her to see the same.”

UMW sophomore Madison Williams, president of the campus Women of Color club, was also volunteering with the truck.

She said the protections offered by the ERA are “basically the entire platform” of her club.

“It plays into everything—equal pay, being safe at work, women being discriminated against because of pregnancy,” Williams said.

Volunteers with NextGen America were also present to register eligible UMW students to vote.

Freshman Ainsley Rucker said she had already registered 20 new voters in about an hour.

After visiting the UMW campus, the #IScream4Equality truck stopped in downtown Fredericksburg and at Kenmore Park.

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Adele Uphaus-Conner:

540/735-1973

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@flsadele

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