Prince William’s Board struggled with the ERA last night

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by Brandon Jarvis

Last night, the Board of Supervisors grappled with the thought of a resolution in support of the Equal Rights Amendment. The majority of speakers were opposed to the resolution. One woman speaking in front of the Board took it deep into the dark side. “The antics left in our country wants hard working citizens to pay for abortions, sex change operations, and transgender ideology with our taxes. They want women in combat, unisex bathrooms, and all differences between men and women erased.” This woman is under the impression that men and women cannot be considered equals without merging the two sexes as one.

Candidate for the Board in the upcoming election Kenny Boddye (D) who spoke at the meeting in favor of the ERA commented on the rhetoric the next morning. “Extremists twisted the narrative around the ERA into being about abortion, bathrooms, sports and prisons,”Boddye added. “All of us – including Supervisor Principi himself – spoke to the fact that the ERA has nothing to do with those issues, but our county supervisors blatantly ignored us. Instead, they gave space to the most fearful elements of our community.”

Former Delegate Bob Marshall also spoke in front of the Board. He insisted that the time has passed to approve the  Amendment. Congress originally set a deadline of March 22, 1979. 3/4ths of state legislatures had to approve the amendment by that date.  Through 1977, the amendment received 35 of the necessary 38 state ratifications. With wide, bipartisan support (including that of both major political parties, both houses of Congress, and Presidents Nixon, Ford and Carter)

The ERA lost momentum however when Phyllis Schlafly mobilized conservative women in opposition, arguing that the ERA would disadvantage housewives and cause women to be drafted into the military. Schlafly is notoriously for hardline conservative social and political views, she practiced antifeminism and she deeply opposed abortion.

Congress barely passed the an extension to the deadline moving it back to 1982, but no other states ratified it in that time. “When this deadline expired, only 35 of the necessary 38 states (the constitutionally required three-fourths) had ratified the amendment. The ERA is therefore not yet a part of the U.S. Constitution.”

Momentum to ratify has been on the rise in states that are close, like Nevada in 2017 and Illinois this year. Although the official deadline has passed, that means that 37 of the 38 states have ratified it. That means Virginia can be the 38th state.

As to why the ERA was a topic of discussion last night in Prince William. Supervisor Frank Principi (D) proposed a resolution to support the Equal Rights Amendment. However, he didn’t receive a “2nd” from his colleagues, meaning the resolution could not go to the floor for a vote. This is something that is typically worked out before the gavel starts the meeting.

Kenny Boddye announced his public support for the ERA again this morning in a press release: “Last night, our county government once again failed to lead on an issue critical to Prince William County residents,” Boddye said. “Over 50 people spoke last night either for or against Supervisor Principi’s resolution regarding the Equal Rights Amendment, and instead of bringing the issue to a vote, the board decided to dodge the resolution entirely by not providing a second. This is yet another example of what we have known for years – our county leadership lacks actual leadership.”

This should be a lesson to leaders of localities across the state, if you are trying to propose legislation that is polarizing in politics, make sure you have at least one other person on the legislative body expressing support before asking for a vote.

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