Sen. Chase Op-Ed: “So-called” Equal Rights Amendment: 40 years later, women are still being used as political pawns

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By Senator Amanda Chase, a Republican representing the 11th Senate District in Virginia.

(This is a guest editorial, the views in this piece do not reflect those of R2D)

As a woman myself, obviously, I support equal rights for women.  Many are convinced that if Virginia passes this Equal Right Amendment, women will no longer be victimized.  Yet the bill itself actually victimizes the very women it claims to protect.  It assumes that women will blindly trust and will not read the fine print.  Well I’ve read the fine print; And I’m offended!  And I’m not buying it.


In reading the article itself the word “woman” or “female” is not even mentioned.  Instead the term “sex” is used.  Yet we are led to believe this amendment is for women.  Wake up women!  This amendment is not about you.  


Instead of being treated equally to men, you would be treated identically to men.  The ERA promotes an equality of sameness which erases the differences between men and women.  


Let’s stop and think about that for a minute.  If the law no longer allows public colleges, businesses, places of employment to differentiate between male and female, here’s what you can expect:


 Need to take a shower after a workout at the gym? Don’t expect to cleanup in a safe protected place.  It’s now illegal.
 If you’re already concerned about sending your teenage daughter away to college, now imagine that she’s sharing a bedroom with another teenage boy.  Because the law would no longer allow the college to differentiate between men and women. Why?  Because it’s now illegal.
 Women of domestic violence and abuse will be the real casualties of this amendment.  Already fearing for their lives, they will now have an additional fear of not being able to safely use a protected “women’s only” dressing room or bathroom.  Why will there be no safe spaces for women and young girls?  Because it would be illegal.
 Women’s scholarships, women’s colleges, women’s sports, women’s locker rooms and bathrooms will all be a tradition of the past, exposing women to increased incidences of rape and sexual violence.


I’m proud to be a woman and appreciate the differences between men and women.  While I desire equal respect, that respect does not come through identical treatment in the passage of a misguided ERA.  


It’s no wonder that some of the states who passed the ERA have now rescinded it.  What at first glance looks like equality for women, turns out to be the big bad wolf dressed up in Grandma’s nightgown.  Women, are you going to fall for this?  Are you going to be deceived into believing this failed amendment from the late 70’s is still relevant or even helpful for women today?


The truth is that women have already come a long way- and without the ERA.  Look at the number of women in the General Assembly today as compared to (1979) 40 years ago when our first female state senator Eva Mae Scott was first elected to the Virginia General Assembly representing Amelia and surrounding counties.  I would also like to note that I’m the second female state senator, serving Chesterfield, Colonial Heights and Amelia and Senator Scott.  And I did it all without the help of the ERA.  


Women are now attorneys, doctors, business owners, astronauts, Secretary of State and senators.  We can be anything we want to be and more.  In fact, one of the leaders of the ERA movement, Eileen Davis, just this November had her daughter Abigail Spanberger win the 7th Congressional Seat for Congress.  Abigail did not need the ERA.


Currently, women can voluntarily apply and attend institutions like VMI, West Point, or the Naval Academy. Women are capable of facing combat, but the question remains; should all women be held to this level of physical and mental training? Under the ERA, women would be automatically drafted into the armed services. Women can flourish in the military, and have always held vital roles in rank, but mandating all women to be drafted changes everything.


The truth is that women have come along way over the past 40 years.  We already have protections in our Virginia Constitution, the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution, the Equal Pay for Equal Work law, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the list goes on.  Passing this ERA would actually take women back 40 years, eliminating thousands of federal, state and local protections for women regarding marriage, divorce, family property law, adoptions, abortions, schools and  sports.  It would transfer  power and authority from the people to the Federal Government.  


Virginia is being asked to “make history” by becoming the 38th and final state to ratify the ERA.  But as Amy McInerny from Prince Williams County so appropriately said at a recent press conference, “the ERA is DOA and has been since 1982.”


On October 4, 1982, in a Supreme Court Case, National Organization of Women v. Idaho, the case was dismissed as moot, stating, “The amendment (ERA) has failed of adoption no matter what the resolution of the legal issues presented here’ because the ERA had not received the required number of ratifications.  


Some say that this is just a failed amendment and passage would do no harm.  Regardless, the fine print of this amendment does not protect women for the very fact that it doesn’t specifically mention women in the sole article describing our “so-called” protection.  Support, instead, Senate Joint Resolution 275 “Reaffirming Equal Protection under the Law” to show your support for women and how far we’ve come over the past 40 years.

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