The House gallery was packed beyond its 102-seat capacity, with Virginia first lady Pam Northam and her daughter, Aubrey Northam, making a rare appearance to bear witness. ERA supporters attended from around the country, many wearing sashes from long-ago marches for women’s equality.
“What happens in Virginia impacts the entire country and will reverberate across the globe,” said Betty Folliard, the founder of ERA Minnesota, who traveled to Richmond to watch the votes.
Numerous legal hurdles still have to be cleared before the ERA, which prohibits discrimination based on sex, would become part of the Constitution. Critics say various deadlines for ratification have long since passed.
But supporters were jubilant that Virginia, after years of failure, is poised to become the 38th state to approve the amendment. They pledged to mount a massive national campaign to enact it.