By Kaytlin Nickens
Capital News Service
RICHMOND — Women’s rights advocates started a daily protest Tuesday at the Capitol, urging Republican legislators to change their minds and ratify the Equal Rights Amendment.
Inside the Capitol, members of the group VA Ratify ERA began their protest by standing “silent sentinel.” The organizers said they will do this daily starting at 10:45 a.m.
A leader of VA Ratify ERA, Kati Hornung, said all is not lost despite resolutions to ratify the ERA having been killed.
The women’s rights advocacy group adopted Friday the plan to hold a daily protest, after the House Privileges and Elections Committee followed the subcommittee recommendation to kill resolutions to ratify the ERA. The proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution would guarantee equal rights regardless of sex.
Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, D-Prince William, said Virginia must continue efforts to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, even if that means getting new legislators in office.
“If we can’t change their minds, we will change their seats,” Carroll Foy said.
Del. David E. Yancey, R-Newport News, supported the ERA in a floor meeting Monday.
“Like my mother, there are so many women in my district who all want a level playing field,” Yancey said. “It’s time we stand up and fight for all women struggling to raise a family and make ends meet.”
If Virginia becomes the 38th state to ratify, the ERA would hit the requirement of having three-quarters of states onboard, for the amendment to become part of the U.S. Constitution.
Dana Hawkins, an advocate for the ERA, said that this is a cornerstone of many things.
“The message that’s sent to woman in this country that they are not worthy of the Constitution equality is awful,” Hawkins said. “Treating women fairly can solve so many of the issues we have in this country.”
Hawkins, like many others — mostly women — came to the Capitol Tuesday, protesting and holding signs on the stairway of the Capitol gallery. Many ERA advocacy groups stood alongside VA Ratify ERA in the protest.
Hawkins said she thinks it’s important that women equality is written into the Constitution and reflected in laws.
“This is an ongoing effort, so today is just another day in the fight,” Hawkins said. “I think everybody knows how important we feel about constitutional equality for women.”