ERA offers more uniform

discrimination protection

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

I’ve just begun my junior year of high school and have been thinking about my future more than ever. I’m expected to finish school and continue on to college, become a well-respected professional and make a name for myself. The question of equal pay never once crossed my mind until I learned that Virginia is one of 13 states that have not yet ratified the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution.

I’m a first-generation African American. My parents came to the United States from Eritrea more than 30 years ago, and I’m proud of my culture and my background. On top of that, I’m a female. Due to the fact that I live — and most likely will enter the workforce — in Virginia, the question of how much I will make for every dollar that my white and male counterparts make remains one of my biggest concerns. I know my worth. I know that I am capable, and that I can do the same work as anyone else regardless of my ethnicity or gender. So why, then, does the rock upon which our government stands take those opportunities away from me? How can we call this nation “the land of the free” when, clearly, certain people experience more freedom than others?

The equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment was first applied to sex discrimination only in 1971, and it has never been interpreted to grant equal rights on the basis of sex in the uniform and inclusive way that the ERA would. This is why it is crucial that we as Virginians, as constituents, as humans, need to step up and make the kind of changes that future generations will thank us for. I’m a teen; I should be focusing on my education and my friends and whatever else 15-year-olds do, but equal rights are so important to me. All I, and countless others, want is to be No. 38. I’m rooting for us, and I hope you are too.

Sineat Samuel.


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