Va. House blocks Equal Rights Amendment ratification

Retired Air Force veteran Daphne Portis, is approached by a Capitol Police officer after an outburst in the Gallery of the House after a resolution that would bring the Equal Rights Amendment to the floor of the House failed at the Capitol in Richmond, Va., Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)(AP/Steve Helber)
RICHMOND, Va. — Before a packed gallery, Virginia’s House of Delegates blocked ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment on Thursday.

A rules change to bring up the resolution for a vote failed 50-50, with only Republican Del. David Yancey joining Democrats to support it.

The state Senate had already backed ratification of the amendment meant to guarantee equal rights based on sex.

If time limits set by Congress are not an issue, ratification would have made Virginia the 38th and final state needed to ratify the amendment to put it in the U.S. Constitution.

After the House rejected all three rules changes related to the Equal Rights Amendment, supporters shouted “shame on Virginia” and “I’m disgusted” from the House gallery.

Opponents of the amendment were also in the gallery, wearing stickers saying, “Stop the pro-abortion ERA.” Opponents, such as House Majority Leadder Todd Gilbert, have argued that the amendment could be used to support abortion rights.

Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, a Democrat, said the amendment has everything to do with equality and nothing to do with abortion.

“Fear has caused this body to be on the wrong side of history, Mr. Speaker, too many times,” she said.

All 140 seats in the General Assembly are on the ballot this fall.

The ERA vote was just one of many votes Thursday as the General Assembly session winds down. The session is scheduled to end by Saturday night, but with no budget agreement announced yet as of early Thursday afternoon, the session could stretch into Sunday.

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