Effort to pass Equal Rights Amendment fails in Virginia

The GOP-held Virginia House of Delegates on Thursday killed a Democratic-led effort to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), a proposed constitutional amendment that would establish gender equality as a principle in the U.S. Constitution.

Virginia would have been the 38th state to ratify the amendment, clearing the three-fourths barrier an amendment must pass in order to be added to the Constitution.

The Washington Post reports that an effort to change House rules and bring the amendment to the floor for a vote was quashed by Republicans on Thursday as protesters challenged GOP lawmakers from the gallery.

ADVERTISEMENT

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 killed.

Republicans argued that they have been accused by Democrats of attempting to treat women as "second-class citizens" and blamed Democrats for "fear mongering" over the amendment, which they warned could have "unintended consequences."

“We’ve been accused of trying to silence people, trying to oppress people, trying to make people into second-class citizens,” Del. Todd Gilbert (R) told the Post. “If that’s not fear mongering, I don’t know what is.”

Virginia might not have ensured the success of the constitutional amendment, as some states have rescinded their ratification of the amendment and Congress's ratification of the proposal has expired.