Listen up ladies.
Isn’t it time that we demand official recognition in the Constitution of the United States? That is the document that the US Supreme Court uses to decide ultimately what is legal and just, and what is not.
As recently as 2011, former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said that the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution does NOT protect against discrimination on the basis of gender. His statement was “Certainly the Constitution does not require discrimination on the basis of sex. The only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn’t. Nobody ever thought that that’s what it meant. Nobody ever voted for that.”
Say Scalia’s words out loud and absorb the meaning. The Constitution does NOT prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex. So women can legally be discriminated against unless there is a specific law passed that bars it. That is pay discrimination, housing discrimination, employment discrimination. These are not unimportant things. We care how much we get paid, what houses and mortgages we are eligible for, whether we can be fired or laid off based on gender (for instance, if you are pregnant). This is important. We need these protections to be in the Constitution, the ultimate law of the land.
“Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex”. The ERA is not a radical idea. But the Constitution must be amended to legally guarantee these equal protections for women. In order to add an amendment to the US Constitution, 2/3 of the states or 38 states need to ratify it. Presently, 37 states have ratified the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). Our Virginia General Assembly had the opportunity last week to ratify it. In fact, the ERA passed the VA Senate on a floor vote of 26-14. (Our State Senator Bryce Reeves (17th SD) was a NO vote.)
The VA House of Delegates did not allow a full House vote because it was voted down in a subcommittee. One of those men voting it down in subcommittee and denying a fair vote on the floor was our House Delegate John McGuire (56th HD). The amendment would have passed the House as it did the VA Senate if it had been given a vote of the full House. The votes were there to pass it. But it was not allowed a fair vote of the full house.
Passage would have moved the amendment to the US Congress for final processing. There is much support in Congress, on both sides of the aisle, for finalizing the constitutional process on the ERA.
While I appreciate that some representatives ride in the Independence Day Parade and show up for football games and have their staff send us birthday greetings and honor roll notes, it is for the business of representing us that we send them to Richmond. If they can’t improve our lives, protect our rights and make our daily existence better, then they are not doing their job.
I ask you, ladies, did our two state representatives (Bryce Reeves and John McGuire) do us a good turn when they kept women out of the Constitution? I say NO. It’s about time to get this business for women done and over with. We need to send folks to Richmond this November who will do that business for us.
Editor’s Note: This originally appeared in the February 28th edition of the Central Virginian, and has been reposted here with the author’s permission.
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