House of Representatives passes HJ79

Since 2018 I have been advocating for the adoption of the Equal Rights Amendment. Well, that is to say, since 2018 I have been advocating in my adulthood as I was a staunch ERA advocate back in the early 1980s when I was so gutted it didn’t make it. But yes, I have been going down to Richmond since 2018 to get the General Assembly of Virginia to pass the ERA.

ERA Lobbying in 2018
Here I am with my friend Emily Haines to lobby for the ERA in 2018
Photo from Fredericksburg.com

Fast forward to 2020 and the Virginia General Assembly finally ratifies the ERA. I have many photos from that day including one awesome photo with Jennifer Carroll Foy, but I’ll save those for another day. Instead, I want to talk about the passage of HJ79, the House of Representatives bill to remove the ERA deadline. My dear friend, Lisa A. Sales, was able to get gallery tickets for a bunch of us ERA supporters to attend the hearing on the House floor with none other than my friend and Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton presiding. Unfortunately, I have no photos from that as electronics aren’t allowed in the House Gallery, but you can see it on CSPAN.

The vote itself was very harrowing. At first there was a voice vote, but a Republican member of Congress called for a Recorded Vote. The acting Speaker, who had moved on from Wexton, held the vote open past the 15 minute mark to give all but 20 members of Congress time to vote. At first, the yay votes were ahead. But then around the 80 mark, the nay votes overtook the yay votes and we were gutted. But in the end, the final total was 232 (56%) for and 183 (44%) against. At 218 yay, though, we knew we had it. 5 Republicans joined 227 Democrats to pass HJ79 in the House!

However, I was able to catch up with a bunch of my fellow ERA advocates at a special event in the House.

Celebrating ERA Passage with the Deltas
These are some of my ERA friends and allies. The Delta Sigma Theta sorority, Inc has long been an advocate of passage and I was happy to work with them for this passage and be in this photo with them and their fellow allies

We Finally, our supporters in Congress were there to celebrate with us. I was very happy to meet Abigail Spanberger, Carolyn Maloney, and Jackie Speier as well as (not pictured) former Republican Illinois State Representative Steve Andersson, who was instrumental in getting Illinois to be the 37th state.

Spanberger, Maloney, and Speier
Congresswomen Abigail Spanberger, Carolyn Maloney, and Jackie Speier have been longtime advocates for the ERA and are instrumental for getting HJ79 to remove the ERA deadline passed through the House of Representatives

It was great seeing Ellie Smeal and of course my friends on fighting to make Georgia the 39th. But also, it was so wonderful to catch up with my good friend Eileen Davis. Eileen is a longtime advocate of the ERA too and what’s more, she raised a very politically savvy daughter. None other than Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger, pictured above. One of my highlights is always to have long chats with Eileen, she’s such a font of knowledge.

When it was time to go, we said our goodbyes. The last person I saw was Lisa. Thank you Lisa, and thank you everyone! You are all wonderful!

Now, on to the Senateā€¦

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