Both houses of the Virginia legislature approved the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) on Wednesday, fulfilling a campaign promise for many of the newly-electedin the statehouse earlier this month. Virginia became the pivotal 38th state to pass the ERA, decades after the measure was approved in Congress in 1972.
Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn, the first female speaker in Virginia House history, presided over the vote in the House, according to the Associated Press. Governor Ralph Northam, a Democrat, has said he supports the measure.
Advocates for the ERA argue that the amendment should now be added to the constitution, as it has been ratified by two-thirds of all states. However, opponents say that the approval is long past the deadline of 1982 set by Congress. Moreover, five states — Nebraska, Tennessee, Idaho, Kentucky and South Dakota — have rescinded their support for the bill since approving it in the 1970s.
The Justice Department issued an agreement last week that the ERA is no longer legally pending before states because the deadline has passed.
Meanwhile, the U.S. House of Representatives is considering a measure that would restart the ratification process. First proposed in 1923, the ERA never officially passed until 1972. The amendment is intended to provide equal rights for women, as well as "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 House Judiciary Committee held thein 36 years to discuss the legislation in April.