Virginia approved the Equal Rights Amendment in a historic vote, becoming the 38th state to support it. What does this mean for gender quality?

After a nearly century-long battle for women to be protected by the U.S. Constitution, Virginia just voted to approve the Equal Rights Amendment, which demands equal legal rights for all American citizens regardless of sex. Many ERA supporters — wearing sashes from marches for women’s equality — celebrated outside the House of Delegates after the historic vote. This makes Virginia the 38th state to ratify the amendment, which means it has reached the necessary three-fourths approval of the 50 states to be included in the Constitution.

“After women took back the Virginia General Assembly, Virginia finally passed the Equal Rights Amendment, becoming the final state needed for ratification! Congratulations to all of the incredible women who led this charge,” Senator Elizabeth Warren, who hopes to become the first female president of the United States, tweeted.

The Equal Rights Amendment states, “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex,” and seeks to ban legal distinctions between men and women in areas like divorce, property, and employment. However, it will have to pass a few more hurdles before it becomes part of the Constitution.


ERA opponents claim the amendment is vague and unnecessary and would not end the gender wage gap, and would instead have unintended effects like limiting the rights of wives and widows to Social Security benefits and making things like bathrooms, jails, and locker rooms co-ed. They also argue that deadlines for ratification have passed.


ERA advocates are pushing Congress to set a new deadline for the amendment to be included in the Constitution, but the Justice Department disagrees, claiming “the ERA Resolution has expired and is no longer pending before the States.” The matter will have to be settled in court, but for now many women are celebrating this victory. “It is inspiring to see the amendment finally be considered, voted on and passed,” said House Majority Leader Charniele Herring. “[It’s a] long-awaited recognition that women deserve.”