Marches will celebrate passage of ERA, as fight looms with GOP leaders

ERA Florida 1982
ERA supporters rally outside the Florida Supreme Court in 1982. State Archives of Florida/Phil Coale

Equal Rights Amendment activists will celebrate this weekend after lawmakers in Virginia on Wednesday made that state the pivotal 38th one to ratify the ERA, an achievement nearly 50 years in the making.

Casting a cloud on the parade is notice that the federal office that archives important records will not accept Virginia’s ratification, having been instructed by the Trump administration’s Department of Justice that it is overdue and invalid.

“As expected,” said Kim Porteous, Florida president of the National Organization for Women, unfazed by confirmation of the blockade at the Archives office.

The National Archives and Records Administration said it will not accept the Virginia documents based on instructions from the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel which say, “Congress had the constitutional authority to impose a deadline on the ratification of the ERA and, because that deadline has expired, the ERA Resolution is no longer pending before the States.”

Whether the gender-equality amendment has or has not achieved its 38-state threshold is now a question heading into court, meaning the ERA, now so close to passage, will continue to remain on hold.

Whatever, said Florida NOW President Kim Porteous.

“We intend to celebrate,” said Porteous, Florida director of the National Organization for Women. “This weekend, there will be women’s marches all over, to celebrate passage of the ERA.” She said march info is being posted on Facebook.

ERA advocates already filed suit in hopes of clearing the way for the filing of Virginia’s ratification documents, which would trigger the next step in enshrining the ERA in the U.S. Constitution.

Porteous said she regrets that Florida failed to become the 38th state to ratify the ERA. Instead, ERA bills in Florida died in recent legislative sessions without being heard.

Bills to ratify it also are filed in the 2020 Legislature but have not yet been scheduled for hearings.