North Carolina legislators press again for ERA ratification

ERA Virginia

In this Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020, photo, Equal Rights Amendment supporters demonstrate outside Virginia State Capitol in Richmond, Va. Virginia moved a step closer to ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment on Tuesday, Jan. 1,4 2020, even as the measure’s future nationally remains in doubt. A House committee approved a resolution to ratify the gender equality measure, which advocates hope will become the next amendment to the U.S. Constitution. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

RALEIGH, N.C. — Equal Rights Amendment supporters said Thursday it’s still important for the North Carolina legislature to ratify the proposal for the sake of fair treatment for all women, even as ERA’s future is being weighed by a court.

General Assembly lawmakers and state and national ERA activists announced in an online news conference their redoubled efforts to bring ratification up for debate and votes this year. Democratic legislators said they plan to introduce such resolutions in the legislative session that begins in earnest next week.

Republicans in charge of the General Assembly have been cool to acting on past such resolutions, but one expected bill sponsor said efforts to enshrine equal rights for women in the U.S. Constitution should be bipartisan.

“It is time to guarantee equal pay, equal access and equal opportunity to everyone,” said Sen. Valerie Foushee, an Orange County Democrat.

The amendment was first sent to the states in the 1970s. Congress had set a final deadline for ratification in 1982, but pro-ERA forces argue that’s not binding. In 2020, Virginia became the 38th ratifying state — enough to validate it. But the national archivist wouldn’t certify the complete ratification, leading to litigation.

ERA Coalition President Carol Jenkins said having other states formally back the amendment would provide a buffer to retain support from 38 states should decisions by several state legislatures to rescind earlier ratifications be upheld as lawful.

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