Editor: Loudoun Board failed Loudoun County residents by refusing to include the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment in its state legislative agenda.
The ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment is necessary to make the U.S. Constitution conform with the promise of “Equal Justice Under the Law.” If Virginia were to ratify the ERA, it will enhance the dignity of our residents by proclaiming equality of women and men under the law in perpetuity. It will provide broad protection of women and men against gender discrimination. It is not a partisan issue. It is not a symbolic act. It is a Loudoun County issue because it is a quality of life and safety issue.
At the meeting on Sept. 20, 2018, the Board of Supervisors voted 5-1-1-2 not to include the Equal Rights Amendment in its agenda. Supervisors Buffington (Blue Ridge), Higgins (Catoctin), Buona (Ashburn), Umstattd (Leesburg), and Letourneau (Dulles) voted not to include it; with Chair Randall (At-Large) opposed; Meyer, Jr. (Broad Run) abstained; and Volpe (Algonkian) and Saines (Sterling) were absent.
The reasons given for a vote of “no” included statements such as: adopting a position on the ERA would open the board to debating any number of issues not particular to Loudoun;. the ERA is not an issue for Loudoun’s legislative agenda; and, the board should be focused on things that the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors can directly affect.
Loudoun County residents should not allow this issue to be dismissed by the board. First, the ERA is “particular to Loudoun.” Loudoun County residents are victims of and, thus injured by gender discrimination, e.g., unequal treatment based on gender includes disparate salaries, unequal career advancement opportunities and variations in the law related to gender based protection from violence. The belief that the ERA is not something “that board can directly affect” represents a very unenlightened and limiting perspective. The spirit of Loudoun County should not be “we don’t act because we don’t think we will succeed.” Loudoun County succeeds because we act.
The ERA is not new law. It buttresses existing laws, and amendments in state constitutions. Specifically, Virginia Constitution Article I, §11 (1971), states: “That no person shall be deprived of his life, liberty, or property without due process of law; that the General Assembly shall not pass any law impairing the obligation of contracts; and that the right to be free from any governmental discrimination upon the basis of religious conviction, race, color, sex, or national origin shall not be abridged…”
Only a federal Equal Rights Amendment can provide U.S. citizens, women and men, with the highest and broadest level of legal protection against gender discrimination.
To the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors: include the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment in the state legislative agenda.
To the Loudoun County residents: contact your representative on the Board of Supervisors and your representatives in Richmond, to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment.
Buta Biberaj, Leesburg