The fight to ratify the ERA will take a lot of effort from everyone who is reading the information on this web site. Right now, you can send us your e-mail address to the e-mail address on the Contact List. This will put you on our Yahoo group for alerts. We will put alerts on the web-site, but we know a web site is not read every day as e-mail is. The alerts will go out when we need you to approach your Virginia representative or senator or call or e-mail them.
In the coming months, you can spread the word about the ERA, learn the information in this site, talk to friends, build your own personal network of friends and relatives, and listen to what your elected officials are saying about women’s issues. Send them information when they are getting the facts wrong. Approach your elected officials, ask them how they feel about the ERA and ascertain what they know. Send us an e-mail so we know which officials we have to win over and which ones will be with us. If they are for the ERA, ask them to be a co-sponsor of the bill when it is introduced next year, and then remind them every time you meet them again. Ask other constituents to do the same thing, and the official will know that you are paying attention. We have a prepared three minute speech that we will send you if you wish to read it in front of your local county board of supervisors. It’s important to gather support at the local level because the state officials will ask what your local officials have said about the issue. Get your local party committees to support the ERA. Maybe the parties and your local supervisors will pass a resolution in support. If you belong to a group, ask them if they would like to have a speaker to talk about the ERA. Contact us and we will travel to your function and give a speech or maybe you’re a great speaker and could rouse an audience. It’s up to you!
We also need to support the ERA efforts in other states because remember we need three states and we are only one. Efforts are being made in Florida, Arkansas, Missouri, and Illinois during the legislative sessions this year. Florida has been working eight years and Illinois has been trying for fourteen years. We are just in our infancy state, but the political climate favors our efforts if we work hard, and do not back down. Do not assume anything because a representative or a senator is in your political party. Until you ask, you will never know if they support the ERA.
This 2011 legislative session, we and our sponsor,Senator Patsy Ticer, managed to get the ERA passed through the Virginia Senate with a vote of 24 to 16 with two Republican senators joining the 22 Democrats. The Virginia House tabled it twice in the Privileges and Elections subcommittee. Five Republican men voted to table the bill so their vote was not recorded. Representatives Janis, Putney, J. Miller, Cole,and R. Bell do not believe we need equal rights. They believe we have enough rights under the Virginia Constitution and the Fourteenth Amendment, and the ERA is dead. All their reasons are bogus, but we have to prove they are to them. If you are at an event or meeting where any Virginia legislator is present, approach them and tell them you want them to vote for the amendment in the next session. Learn the arguments for passage so that you can refute theirs and let them know if you are their constituent. Remind them that you vote and so do your friends.
In the 2012 legislative session, we and our sponsor, Senator George Barker (Sen. Ticer had retired), again saw the ERA passed by the Va Senate. The vote was 24-16 again, but this was a harder task because the Senate elections had split the Senate 20-20. The Lt. Governor would decide passage if we tied, and the Lt. Governor was a Republican. We carried 4 Republicans, and Sen. Barker learned later that the Republicans had decided in conference to defeat us, but 2 Republicans voted with us again, and two thought they were voting to send it back to committee. The late Senator Yvonne Miller gave an impassioned speech for passage, and we think she brought her 2 Republican colleagues to our side. A few moths later, she died of breast cancer, but she saved us I think. The House Privileges and Elections chairman, Mark Cole, refused to even hear the ERA. He told our sponsor, Delegate Scott Surovell, that we were a political ploy of the Democrats. When it passed the Senate and crossed over, again he refused to docket the bill so we died in committee.
In the 2013 legislative session, the ERA was assigned to the House Speaker’s Rules committee (William Howell). This committee is where the “bad boys” are sent to die. There are 11 Republicans and 4 Democrats on the Rules committee. Delegate Scott Surovell, our sponsor, presented the case, and we testified for it, and we were immediately tabled. The first to vote to table was the only woman on the committee, Beverly Sherwood (R) of Winchester. The only no vote for tabling came from Delegate Ken Plum (D) of Fairfax. The other 3 Democrats, Joannou, Johnson, and A.T. Howell said absolutely nothing. We did not introduce the ERA in the Va Senate this year because it had already passed twice. Our sponsor, Senator George Barker, also told us he had learned that the Republicans had been threatened not to vote for the ERA or else. If we had introduced and failed, we would never again have a chance to get it through the House. This way we can say we got the ERA passed through the Senate twice. The Va House has 67 Republicans and 33 Democrats so we must get more Democrats elected in order to get the ERA passed.