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Warner & Kaine Join Bipartisan Measure To Eliminate ERA Deadline, Help Guarantee Women Equal Rights In The Constitution

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) joined Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) in sponsoring a bipartisan Senate resolution (S.J. Res. 6) that would immediately remove the ratification deadline for the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). Following this month’s elections in Virginia, the Commonwealth is poised to be the 38th and final state needed to ratify the ERA. If ratified, the ERA would finally guarantee full and equal protections to women in the Constitution.

“More than 96 years after the Equal Rights Amendment was first proposed, Virginia is about to take a giant step forward for women’s equality by becoming the 38th state to ratify the ERA,” Warner said. “This resolution will ensure that, even though this fight took decades, women’s equality will finally be fully and expressly recognized in our Constitution.” 

“This year marks the 100th anniversary of passage of the 19th amendment, yet women are still not explicitly recognized as equal under our Constitution,” said Kaine. “This resolution would ensure there’s still time to ratify the ERA, which will finally guarantee equal protections to women and strengthen our ability to fight gender discrimination. I hope Virginia will make history by becoming the 38th state to ratify the ERA.”

“Thank you to Senators Warner and Kaine for their strong support of the Equal Rights Amendment, which would prohibit discrimination based on sex.  Today I filed my first bill for the 2020 General Assembly Session, to make Virginia the 38th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, guaranteeing women the same legal rights and protections as men under the law. Our Commonwealth stands poised to make history – and with champions like Senator Warner and Senator Kaine in Washington, we can finally make sure that the Equal Rights Amendment becomes a part of the U.S. Constitution,” said State Senator Jennifer McClellan, who filed a resolution in the Virginia Senate today to ratify the ERA. 

“Having worked with so many activists across the Commonwealth on two ERA bus tours, I know how important this issue is to women across Virginia. And as one of the first women to graduate from Virginia Military Institute, this fight is personal. It's time to enshrine women’s fundamental rights in the United States Constitution, and I thank Senators Warner and Kaine for being steadfast advocates for equality,” said State Delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy, who filed a resolution in the Virginia House of Delegates today to ratify the ERA.

Thirty-seven states, of the 38 needed, have already ratified the amendment, which Congress approved in 1972. Only one more state is needed among Virginia, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Utah. The Virginia Senate passed a federal Equal Rights Amendment measure in January, but it was blocked by the then Republican-controlled Virginia House of Delegates. With both chambers now under Democratic control, Virginia is expected to soon become the 38th state to ratify the ERA.

The bipartisan U.S. Senate resolution (S.J. Res. 6) supported by Warner and Kaine would immediately remove the ratification deadline, paving the way for full and equal protections to women in the Constitution. Article V of the Constitution contains no time limits for ratification of amendments, and the states finally ratified the Twenty-Seventh Amendment in 1992 regarding Congressional pay raises more than 200 years after Congress proposed it in 1789 as part of the original Bill of Rights. The ERA time limit was contained in a joint resolution, not the actual text of the amendment, and Congress has already once voted to extend the ERA ratification deadline. The bipartisan resolution sponsored by Warner and Kaine would put to bed any potential ambiguity over adding the ERA to the Constitution once Virginia becomes the 38th state to ratify. 

The Equal Rights Amendment would finally give women full and equal protection under the Constitution. It reads as follows:

  • Section 1.  Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.
  • Section 2.  The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
  • Section 3.  This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.