WASHINGTON – The House of Representatives approved a bill Thursday that attempts to retroactively remove the deadline for ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment. It's a last-ditch effort by Democrats to get the controversial amendment added to the Constitution.
"With this resolution, we take a giant step toward equality for women, progress for families, and a stronger America," Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told ERA supporters.
The Equal Rights Amendment, which says, "equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex," passed Congress in 1972.
However, it expired decades ago. The ERA failed to get the approval needed from 38 states, the three-fourths required to amend the US Constitution, before its 1979 and extended-1982 deadlines passed.
Also, a number of states that did ratify the ERA later rescinded their approval.
"It is time to guarantee true equality under the United States Constitution," Virginia state Delegate Hala Ayala (D) said during floor debate on the floor of the Virginia House of Delegates last month.
Despite the expired deadline, Virginia revived the debate in January when it became the 38th state to ratify.
The commonwealth's first female speaker of the House ensured the ERA was the first bill to pass out of her chamber.
"For the women of Virginia and the women of America, the resolution has finally passed," Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn (D) said after members voted along party lines to ratify the amendment.
"We will no longer suffer in silence as we are discriminated against. We will not stand by while being paid less, we won't keep quiet about violence perpetrated against women with impunity," argued Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy (D).
However, critics say the ERA is the opposite of what it claims. They say it actually harms women and mandates abortion on demand.
"This is about breaking down any prohibitions in any state against abortion, this is really about creating the inevitability on a federal level for abortion to be legal, any reason, any number, all paid for by the taxpayer," Penny Nance, CEO and president of Concerned Women for America explained on CBN's Faith Nation.
In addition, Nance says there are 800 gender-specific laws designed to protect women, like the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, that would disappear under the ERA.
"Do we deserve special protection in certain areas because biologically we need them or should those all end?" Nance asked.
While Democrats work to revive the amendment, liberal icon, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg says the ERA is dead.
She encourages supporters to start over in Congress.
It's unlikely a new ERA as written would pass the Senate. Getting three-fourths of states to ratify it would be a challenge too, but this fight is far from over.