Feminist issues won big in the Virginia State legislative races on Election Day 2019. The Equal Rights Amendment, which was stopped from coming to the floor for a vote in 2019 and for more than two decades by Republican leadership, will now have both a strong Democratic majority in the House and Senate, with ERA supporters in the majority of both houses. Eileen Filler-Corn, who will be the first woman House Speaker in Virginia’s history, and Charniele Herring, who is expected to be the House Democratic Caucus Leader, are both strong supporters of the Equal Rights Amendment.
Both Filler-Corn and Dick Saslaw, the Senate Democratic leader, said upon victory last night that the ERA would be a priority for passage in 2020. When the Virginia House and Senate ratify the ERA in 2020, it will become the 38th and final state necessary for U. S. Constitutional ratification.
“No question the ERA is finally in the homestretch. This did not just happen—the current feminist generations have been working for over 50 years to make this happen. Finally victory is in sight. Yesterday feminists, both young and old, were get out the vote organizers, poll workers, candidates, and voters in numbers to big too ignore.” said Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority, who has been personally been working towards ratification of the ERA for over five decades.
The Feminist Majority and the National Organization for Women together conducted a joint project called Voters for Equality to work toward this victory. The project targeted races throughout Virginia and had organizers at numerous precincts reminding voters which candidates were ERA supporters. The campaign worked on major Virginia college campuses and in communities large and small to mobilize voters and help build an historic turnout in an off-off year election. Meanwhile, Virginia NOW and VA Ratify ERA, a statewide coalition to which both NOW and the Feminist Majority belong, and other organizations worked to keep the ERA before the voters throughout the state. Statewide polls show that 83% of Virginians support the ERA.
Also critical in this election were other feminist issues such as commonsense gun law reform, access to abortion and birth control, environmental justice, expanding access to health care, increased funding for schools and teachers. At long last, progressive legislation will move forward vigorously in the Virginia General Assembly.###