Women across the commonwealth, including Williamsburg, will participate in a statewide march Saturday for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.
The Equal Rights Amendment gives protections to all people, regardless of sex. According to equalrightsamendment.org, the amendment was first introduced in 1923. In the late 1970s, states moved to ratify the amendment, but fell short of the number of approvals needed.
If the Virginia General Assembly ratifies the Equal Rights Amendment this year, Virginia will become the 38th state to do so and the amendment could become part of the U.S. Constitution.
According to varatifyera.org, Congress has extended the deadline to pass the amendment deadline from 1978 to 1982.
“In light of Congress’s power and significant control over the amendment process, I cannot conclude it lacks the power to extend the period in which an amendment can be ratified,” said Attorney General Mark Herring in a formal opinion hearing in May 2018.“The lapse of the ERA’s original and extended ratification periods has not disempowered the General Assembly from passing a ratifying resolution.”
“Ninety-five years is long enough, why shouldn’t all Americans have the same rights under the constitution?” said Heather Meaney-Allen, a co-founder of Williamsburg JCC Indivisible.
Meaney-Allen said despite common misconceptions, the ERA is about equality for everyone, not just women.
“We talked to someone in Colonial Williamsburg today when we were asking for help with the march, and he said ‘I want the ERA, I’m gay, it will protect me,’” Meaney-Allen said. “It protects all Americans; it makes us all equal.”
Jeannette Potter, a co-founder of Williamsburg JCC Indivisible, said the Equal Rights Amendment is a bipartisan issue. Potter said she was talking to a man who voted for Trump and asked if he supported the ERA.
“He said ‘I don’t know if I know what that is,’ ” Potter said. “And I just tell him what the ERA is, equality under the law, yadda yadda, and he said ‘Well who would have a problem with that?’ And I said ‘Exactly.’ ”
Allen wanted to emphasize that anyone, regardless of political leaning, religion and gender are welcome to the march.
“That includes Republicans and Democrats and vegetarians and Libertarians and vegans and all of us,” Meaney-Allen said.
Want to participate?
Williamsburg marchers will gather at 2 p.m. Saturday in front of the Colonial Courthouse on Duke of Gloucester Street. The walk will start after speakers talk.
Heymann can be reached by phone at 757-298-5828 or on Twitter at @HeymannAmelia.