The Women’s Equality movement has made great strides in recent years, but until the Constitution prohibits discrimination based on gender our work remains unfinished. With the November 5 election fast approaching, it is important to recognize the legislators who have historically been on the right side of this issue and who will continue to fight for gender equality. Our representative for the 21st State Senate District, Senator John Edwards, is one such legislator.
The Equal Rights Amendment, which states that “equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex,” was first proposed in 1923. After almost 50 years of activism, the amendment was passed by the House of Representatives in 1971, the U.S. Senate in 1972, and 37 of the required 38 states in the years since. Senator Edwards pushed for a vote in the General Assembly on the ERA this year and was able to obtain a vote in the Senate - only to see the House of Delegates refuse to vote on the measure.
At campaign stops, Senator Edwards speaks frequently about his support for the ERA, as well as his frustration with a legislature that refuses to vote on a measure that - according to a Wason Center poll - 81% of Virginians support. On November 5, we must not only re-elect Senator Edwards, but also send enough Democrats to the State Senate and the House of Delegates to finally secure a full vote. Virginia has a choice: we can be the state that finally makes gender equality legally enforceable, or remain in the minority of states that refuses to acknowledge equality. If we elect leaders like Senator Edwards, Virginia can lead the nation and provide the final ratification needed to secure Constitutional equality for American women.