Ice cream in the service of equality

By Susan Laume:

Lucky Clifton residents on Monday, Sept. 16, got an opportunity to sample free ice cream and show their support for Virginian ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.

Clifton was just one stop in an ice cream truck tour of the Commonwealth by volunteers to remind voters that if Virginia ratifies the ERA it will become the 38th state to do so, meeting the Constitutional requirement of three-quarters of states approving.

The campaign is led by  VAratifyERA, a non-partisan grassroots organization. The tour launched on August 26, Women’s Equality Day, and continues with multiple stops on dates through November 5th.

Voter and ERA proponent Calvin Hentges stopped for ice cream and offered his support to campaign workers Jane Materna (L) and Johanna Guzman

The Virginia Senate has consistently passed ERA legislation for several years, including by a 26-14 vote in 2019. But opposition by the Republican Party and conservative religious groups has blocked passage in the House of Delegates.

A non-partisan campaign concentrating on educational outreach, the “iScreamforEquality” tour targets students and communities near schools and universities, and some communities where the issue might not come up in normal conversation. Their aim to assure that voters, and young people in particular, know about the ERA issue and are registered to vote.

Campaign Director Kati Homung said, “You’d be surprised that most people don’t realize there’s a gender equality issue and that it’s [equality] not part of the U.S. Constitution already.”

The campaign has recognized that the key to passage is to elect candidates who will ratify ERA.  They are targeting the 20 closest House of Delegate races, talking to voters about candidates who support ERA. The goal is to elect a legislature on November 5 that will, finally, pass the ERA in the next session in Richmond in January 2020.

VAratifyERA also will host a law convention at the University of Richmond on October 26, bringing together law students, legislators, legal scholars and policy makers. Planned for discussion: the ERA, the impact of its ratification on Virginia, and strategies to overcome objections to constitutional change.

To sign up for the ice cream tour or the law convention, go to VAratifyERA’s website.



Susan Laume is a member of the Springfield District Democratic Committee and director of the Virginia Dog Army, an animal advocacy group.  She and her dog work as a therapy dog team.


Main photo:  Volunteer Jane Materna brings the iScreamforEquality ice cream truck to Clifton/ Photos by Susan Laume

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