An effort to revive a resolution to have Virginia ratify the federal Equal Rights Amendment failed Friday in a House of Delegates committee.
The women’s rights measure, backed by a major activist push, was voted down earlier this week in a Republican-led elections subcommittee, signaling House Republicans had no intention of passing the resolution that has already cleared the Senate.
On Friday, Del. Mark Sickles, D-Fairfax, attempted to put the resolution on the agenda for the full House Privileges and Elections Committee. The motion failed on a 10-12 party-line vote.
“That is a procedural motion,” said Del. Mark Cole, R-Spotsylvania, the committee chairman. “This is a resolution that was heard in subcommittee and had a hearing in subcommittee. And failed to report in subcommittee.”
The proposed federal amendment says: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.” It provides that Congress shall have the power to enforce its provisions “by appropriate legislation.”
Supporters want Virginia to become the 38th state to ratify the measure and say that would add clear gender equality language to the U.S. Constitution; opponents, however, say an extended 1982 deadline Congress set for ratification has long passed and the ERA is moot.
The resolution passed the state Senate on a bipartisan 26-14 vote.
Conservatives have argued the resolution could have unforeseen consequences, such as wiping out restrictions on abortion.
House GOP leaders have shown little sign of changing course on the ERA. But Democrats could try additional maneuvers to attempt to bring it to another vote.
On Thursday, Del. Delores McQuinn, D-Richmond, gave a speech in the House urging her colleagues to bring the ERA to the floor.
“Words are powerful. Whether they’re written on a piece of paper or said aloud,” McQuinn said. “It may not be written this year, but I believe eventually change will come.”