General Assembly should ratify the ERA

The original Equal Rights Amendment was introduced into Congress in 1923. Here we are in 2019 still trying to get it added to the U.S. Constitution.

The original version died in Congress. A second version was introduced in 1972 and passed. Thirty-seven states have now ratified it. If thirty-eight states ratify the amendment, it will become part of the Constitution.

The ERA will be considered in the Virginia legislature in 2019. It would be an amazing step forward if Virginia becomes the state that takes the ERA over the finish line.

Some have argued over the years that the ERA is not necessary or will actually be harmful to women.

Is it necessary? A recent 2015 poll by the ERA Coalition/Fund for Women’s Equality showed that 94 percent of Americans believe that the Constitution should guarantee equal rights for men and women, and 80 percent believe it is already there.

It is not there. No less a constitutional authority than Justice Antonin Scalia said that there is no protection against discrimination on the basis of sex in the Constitution.

Would the ERA harm women? There have been arguments over the years that women would be drafted and be forced to enter combat. Congress has always had the power to draft women into service and women are now serving voluntarily in combat areas. The Pentagon has recommended that women be included in the Selective Service Registration.

The Virginia legislature should take note that the vast majority of citizens support the inclusion of the ERA into the U.S. Constitution and ratify the amendment in the next legislative session.

James Spragins


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