You’re Invited to Women’s Lobby Day, Feb. 4.

Wednesday, February 4, is Women’s Lobby Day at the Virginia General Assembly in Richmond. Let’s show our strength and numbers by being there and speaking up.

What happens Wednesday? You can get an up-close look at the legislative process. Go to committee meetings, visit your elected representatives and other decision-makers, and see the House and Senate chambers. Join a terrific group of women for lunch (or have lunch on your own) and then visit the lieutenant governor’s office, arranged by the League of Women Voters.

The day starts at 8:30 am at the League of Women Voters Legislative Roundtable, 4th Floor at the General Assembly Building at 9th and Broad Streets. Legislators and advocates will address the roundtable on a variety of issues.

Please take a moment to be sure you have your delegate’s and senator’s contact information, which is here (type your address in the right corner). Please contact me if you have questions.

Important bills that Virginia NOW supports this session include:

The Equal Rights Amendment

Reporting Sexual Assault on Campuses

Repeal of Mandatory Ultrasound Prior to an Abortion

Legally Allowing Breast-feeding in Public Places

Removing Firearms From Domestic Abusers

Non-Partisan Redistricting

Expanded Definition of Stalking

Thank you for reading this and for all you do every day for equality. Looking forward to seeing you Wednesday.

Marj Signer, VA NOW Legislative V-P

Announcing the Women’s Equality Coalition — 2015

Virginia NOW is proud and excited to be a founding member of the Virginia Women’s Equality Coalition. This group of some of Virginia’s most active and powerful advocacy organizations will ask our members to raise your voices, and get your fingers moving to support legislation essential to all women and communities in the Commonwealth. Here’s what we’ll be working on:

The Virginia Women’s Equality Agenda

  1. Promoting women’s health and safety by repealing Virginia’s mandatory ultrasound law, closing the Medicaid coverage gap, and ensuring that survivors of domestic violence are not driven into poverty.
  2. Advancing women’s economic opportunity by making sure women receive equal pay for equal work, a living wage to support their families, and paid sick days so they can care for themselves and their children.
  3. Protecting democratic participation by ensuring that Virginia women can cast their votes without unequal or undue barriers.

Are you ready to stand with us? Become a citizen co-sponsor of the 2015 Virginia Women’s Equality Agenda now!

Legislation to Achieve this Agenda

Women’s Health and Safety

  • Repeal the mandatory ultrasound statute (SB733 and HB1524)
    Health care decisions should be between a woman, her family, her doctor, her faith — or simply her own conscience — NOT politicians. Politicians
    should not interfere in private medical decisions.
  • Close the coverage gap (Included in Governor McAuliffe’s proposed amendments)
    For millions of women, Medicaid makes the difference between access to cancer screenings and birth control or going
    without. If Virginia fails to expand Medicaid, 112,642 women of reproductive age will fall into the coverage gap.
  • Protect birth control access (Not yet filed)
    The vast majority of women use birth control during their lifetime but more than a third has struggled to afford it. No
    one’s boss should be able to dictate her health care decisions.
  • Provide unemployment benefits for victims of domestic violence who are forced to leave their job (HB1430)
    Victims of domestic violence should have to suffer again from losing economic security.

Economic Opportunity

  • Ensure equal pay (SB772)
    Women deserve to be paid fairly. It’s that simple. Ensuring women are compensated fairly is a vital step in building a
    Virginia that works for everyone.
  • Expand access to paid sick days (Not yet filed)
    Everybody gets sick, but not everybody can afford to take time off to get better or care for a sick kid. Over one million
    Virginia workers don’t have a paid sick day. That means when they or a family member get sick, they have to choose
    between jeopardizing public health or risking their family’s economic security.
  • Raise the minimum wage (SB681)
    Women who work hard and play by the rules should be able to afford to live with dignity and raise a family. Six in 10 low
    wage workers are women and 300,000 kids live in a household that would see a income increase from raising the wage.
  • Ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (HJ495 and SJ216)
    Sex discrimination should get the highest level of strict judicial scrutiny, just as race discrimination does, but it currently
    receives only a heightened level of intermediate scrutiny. Only a federal ERA can provide the highest and broadest level of legal protection against sex discrimination. (See also Virginia ERA Network for our ratification focus.)
  • Democratic Participation
  • Establish no-fault in-person absentee voting (SB677)
    For many women, juggling work, school, and childcare to get to the polls on Election Day is simply too much. Expanding
    the opportunities to vote will expand women’s participation in our democracy and our ability to make our voices heard.
  • Ensure impartial election maps. Voters should choose their elected officials, not the other way around. In too many parts of Virginia, women don’t have a say in choosing their representatives because the election outcome has already been rigged.




Why We Need the ERA – Diana Egozcue’s Testimony (delivered Feb. 7, 2012)

Virginia NOW President, Diana Egozcue, delivered this testimony about the Equal Rights Amendment to the Senate Privileges and Elections Committee Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2012.

“Good afternoon,

I am Diana Egozcue, Virginia NOW President, Fredericksburg resident and a constituent of Senator Vogel.  I am here to testify for the Equal Rights Amendment.

The ERA simply states:  “Equality of Rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.”  At this time, the only guaranteed right women have in the Constitution is the right to vote under the 19th Amendment.  There are laws and acts which give us some rights, but these can be repealed or amended at any time.  The ERA acts as a blanket insurance policy or a firewall for all laws passed for women such as the Lily Ledbetter fair pay act and Titles 7 and 9 in the Civil Rights Act.  Title 9 once disappeared for four years due to a Supreme Court decision, and Congress had to pass it again.

I hear the worn out old arguments all the time that it is dead, it will bring same sex bathrooms, the draft for women, and abortion on demand.  We already have unisex bathrooms, women can be drafted at any time if Congress wishes to do it, and it will not bring abortion on demand.  Twenty-two states have ERA amendments or clauses in their Constitutions including Virginia, and it has never brought abortion in these states.  In three cases brought in the states, the judges have thrown out the cases because men can’t have abortions.

As for being dead, the Congressional Research Service in reports to Congress said:  “The ERA is still legally held timely or contemporaneous, viable, fair and just.”  The Virginia Attorney General, in 1995, in a letter answering Delegate Marshall’s query said the ERA is not dead.  The Supreme Court in Coleman vs Miller said regardless of a time limit, Article V of the Constitution said states still have the power to ratify the ERA.  It is up to the states to give an up or down vote, but not to determine its viability.  The time limit was in the proposing clause and not in the body of the amendment.  There have been seven amendments accepted back by Congress after a time limit has passed including habeas corpus.  The Madison Amendment, the 27th Amendment, was accepted back after 203 years.  It counted 9 of the 13 original state votes in its 38 total needed for passage.  This amendment nullified the time limit argument.

Why do we need the ERA?

  1. As I said before, the only guaranteed right we have in the Constitution is the right to vote.  Some say the 14th Amendment covers women, but if you study the history of the debate, it was never intended to cover women.  The Supreme Court in 1972 said in a decision that the 14th did cover women, but this has often been ineffective to support women’s constitutional authority.  Justice Scalia said in a law review last year that it does not cover women or give equal rights because there is no ERA.  Only the ERA will give the courts strict scrutiny to decide a case, and that’s why they could not find for Lily Ledbetter.  This is an umbrella insurance policy for women or a firewall.
  2.  Forty-seven percent of women support their families.  With the ERA, we will be guaranteed equal pay for the same work.  We now make 77 cents in Virginia for every dollar a man makes in the same job with the same experience.  What this means is that in old age, women receive less Social Security if they never married or (in the case of their ex-husband’s Social Security) if they have been divorced less than a certain number of years.
  3. If we make pay equal, we will increase the tax bases locally, in state coffers, and federally.  Women will have more to spend to grow the economy; more women will not need welfare, Medicaid and food stamps; and there will be a positive impact on infrastructure and other projects.  None of this includes the intangibles such as self-esteem, role models for children and other women, and better housing, which affects children and their learning environments.

Article I, Section 11 of the Virginia Constitution states in the last three lines:  “…that the right to be free from any government discrimination upon the basis of religious conviction, race, color, sex, or national origin shall not be abridged….”  I have to ask the question, if this was written in the 1950’s before the passage out of Congress of the ERA in 1972, why hasn’t Virginia extended the rights guaranteed in the Virginia Constitution to the women of the United States?

We have women fighting and dying in Afghanistan and Iraq.  They are fighting for a Constitution that affords them only the right to vote.  Last week, an all-female fighter squadron flew the first all-female mission from the US Carl Vinson.  The military knows the value of women.  Think of your mothers, wives, daughters, and granddaughters.  What if your daughter or granddaughter marries a man who leaves her with children to support?  Guarantee them the right to make an equal wage to support their families.

Opponents of the ERA say, we have bogus arguments, but give no reasons why they oppose the amendment.  Their specious arguments from the past are worn out.  We have same sex bathrooms, women can be drafted at any time, they serve in combat, and nowhere has abortion on demand been passed into law in the twenty-two states that have ERA amendments or clauses.  Time has marched on and attitudes have changed, but women are still waiting to be granted full citizenship under the US Constitution.  This is about the sex you are, not the sex you do.  A recent survey showed that over 86 percent of Americans agreed we need the ERA.  This is a civil rights issue.  This is a fairness issue. After waiting forty years, I would like to be a full citizen with guaranteed rights in the Constitution.  Thirty-five states have passed this, why not Virginia?

This is a matter of RESPECT.  Respect us enough to give us our rights and make us full citizens, not a 1/4, not a 1/2, but full citizens with the rights men enjoy.  I’ve heard male legislators say that they are protecting us.  No you’re not, not without the power of the law to guarantee our rights.  Again, respect us: that is all we are asking.”


Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2012


Go Diana!  She has since spoken on the floor many times on the importance of the ERA’s ratification.

Rumors of our Equality Are Greatly Exaggerated!

NOW (and hosts of women’s rights organizations) will be well represented at the 50th Anniversary March, and NOW President Terry O’Neill will be speaking about the Equal Rights Amendment. This is it here:


The Equal Rights Amendment is simple, clear, and inalienable!!

“Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.”

It’s been 90 years since Alice Paul wrote this simple text in 1923. It is just time, people. But time will drag on if we don’t act!

92% of Americans think that women have equality under the law. They are mistaken. The only right actually secured for women in the Constitution is the right to vote.

Everything else: right to own property, right to custody of our children, right to healthcare, right to work, right to have our own bank account and lines of credit, right to equal pay, right to fight in the military, right to autonomy over our own bodies in any way, to education, to purchase sex toys, to fill-in-the-blank are made right now by a patch work of court decisions, and statues in laws that are not permanent amendments to the Constitution. These ‘privileges’ are alienable, they can be taken away. The ERA would convert them legally, federally, into inalienable rights.

At present these “privileges” and this”equality” are just gifts from the courts and legislatures, and those gifts can be taken away or curbed (as in over-regulation of health clinics that makes access to abortion services very, very difficult or impossible; as in voting rights restrictions; as in not having a law that just says you get paid equally to a man in your position or the federal government will come after your employer). Fighting, over and over, to secure the same rights, often state by state, endlessly is not liberty. Battle is not liberty. Battle does not allow the greatest expression and implementation of the people’s intellect and skill for their own and the nation’s benefit. Battle just drains energy. As we have seen just this year in Iowa, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina, and Texas — we can fight like hell, and we can lose our battle for dignity, even for our lives.

The ERA would put an end to that battle. This is battle is won and decided in most of the developed world, and decided for women. Moreover, the ERA would only strengthen the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by extending its full protections to women of color, as women. It would benefit the LGBTQIA communities by assuring that these women are also fully recognized as persons with inalienable rights. The same forces that resist the ERA refuse to ratify CEDAW, and that leaves American women and international women in America vulnerable.

Virginia NOW has recently been working on getting the ERA through the Virginia Legislature, but the state House will not schedule a vote even though the state Senate has voted to ratify two times!! Lots of information and tips on action can be found at Virginia ERA and Equal Rights Amendment.

We need you to lend your words and work to this effort. You can sign this petition to Congress to lift the deadline on ratification: (click here). You can read the White House’s response to the petition on their website: (click here). It’s positive, it’s supportive, it’s lots of things but it is not pro-active. We feel the White House needs a little encouragement. So do this: 

  • Write to the White House, and tell them that you’re glad to have Fair Pay and Title IX and so forth, but these laws are not civil rights amendments and they can be changed, or overturned at any time. Only a ratified constitutional amendment would truly secure these rights for all women.
  • Write to your federal representatives and to your state representatives (see bottom of page), and tell them that you’ll support them if they support you–ratification and/or removal of the deadline for ratification is the form this support should take.
  •  Visit Equal Rights Amendment dot Org for complete details and suggestions for getting your boots on the ground! Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, and Virginia, I am talking to you!!!. If you live in these 15 states, go kick some ratification butt!!! We only need 3 out of 15.

Below, NOW’s resolution in favor of the ERA Amendment & CEDAW. (We are one of only a few nations not to sign on. That distinguished cadre includes: United States, Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, Iran, and two small Pacific Island nations [Palau and Tonga]). For the full complement of NOW Resolutions (click here). 



WHEREAS, constitutional equality for women is a core issue for the National Organization for Women (NOW) and discrimination based on sex is a violation of human rights; and

WHEREAS, NOW is supporting both the 3-state strategy and a Congressional strategy to begin anew on an Equal Rights Amendment (ERA); and

WHEREAS, Congressional leaders for women’s equality believe it is necessary to support both strategies; and

WHEREAS, both methods provide unique advantages; and

WHEREAS, NOW continues to support ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW, The Women’s Treaty) by the U.S. Senate;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that NOW reaffirms that we continue to work on several strategies that educate the public about the need to win constitutional equality for women; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that NOW create an “ERA Educate to Advocate Campaign” and actively pursue opportunities to obtain media attention to bring the movement to ratify the ERA and CEDAW (The Women’s Treaty) into the national conversation; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that we recommend to the NOW/PAC and the state and local PACs that they score candidates on their support for an ERA on the 3-state strategy, a Congressional strategy to begin anew on an Equal Rights Amendment, and CEDAW (The Women’s Treaty), in considering whether or not to endorse a political candidate.

So, tell me. Do you want to have a dream, or do you want to live that dream?


Constant Contact
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(*) (*) (*) (*) (*)
Diana Egozcue
, President

Paradise Kendra, Communications VP/Webmistress
Simone Roberts, Historian/ERA Coordinator

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