ERA supporters gear up for fresh fight in Richmond

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BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ7) If you saw the bus that rolled into Blacksburg Friday morning, you couldn't miss the message: the Equal Rights Amendment is back.

It's been a while, since supporters were marching in the streets of Richmond and making their voices heard in Capitol Square, and opponents were there arguing the Equal Rights Amendment wasn't needed.

But after the 1982 deadline passed, just three states shy of ratification, the issue faded from the headlines.

"We never quite got Virginia," Margaret Ray said Friday after a program on the latest efforts to win approval here.

Ray fought for the Equal Rights Amendment 40 years ago. And like many others who turned out this week for events across the state, she said she's ready to take up the cause once again.

"If anyone believes that women are now getting equality," Ray told WDBJ7, "all they have to do is look at the 'Me Too movement,' and see how far we've yet to go."

Supporters believe their chances are strong, if they can get the issue out of committee and onto the floor of the House and Senate.

"We have the votes," said Blacksburg Delegate Chris Hurst. "I think it's very clear, in a very bipartisan fashion, we have the votes. It's just up to leadership to decide whether or not we can actually have that vote."

Opponents continue to raise concerns, such as the impact on the military draft. And they say the issue is moot because the ratification deadline has passed,

But this week supporters were signing the bus, promising to rally in Richmond and revive a movement that's been dormant for more than 30 years.