Rep. Donald Payne (D-Newark) is backing an extension to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, leaving Rep. Jeff Van Drew (D-Middle) as the lone New Jersey Democratic congressman to not co-sponsor the authorizing resolution.
Over the last two weeks, four additional members of the New Jersey House delegation signed on as co-sponsors.
The move would provide another extension to allow one more state to ratify the ERA, which Congress approved in 1972. The ERA fell three states short of ratification despite an extended deadline to 1982.
Two more states have since ratified the amendment, and with the Virginia lower house in play this year, there is a drive to grant another extension.
Earlier this year, the Virginia House of Delegates deadlocked 50-50 in a ratification vote. All 100 seats are up for election this year, with Democrats looking to flip the 51-49 Republican majority.
In 2017, a protracted dispute over one House seat led a Virginia judge to rule that there was no winner. State law breaks ties through a random draw and the seat went to Republican incumbent David Yancey. Yancey became the only Republican to vote for the ERA ratification last February.
A poll conducted by the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University last December showed that 81% of Virginians favored the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.
Rep. Christopher Smith (R-Hamilton), the lone Republican congressman from New Jersey, said in 1983 that he was a strong supporter of the ERA, but voted against an extension because the House would not agree to amendments that address abortion, women in combat, civil service preference to veterans, or the handling of private schools.
The Senate version of the resolution was introduced by U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Maryland) and now has three co-sponsors: Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Angus King (I-Maine).
A 1983 bid to extend the ratification deadline fell six votes short in the House.
The U.S. House of Representatives originally approved the constitutional amendment on October 12, 1971 by a 324-24 vote. Thirteen New Jersey House members – 8 Democrats and 5 Republicans – voted yes. The lone New Jersey vote in opposition to the ERA was cast by Rep. Charles Sandman (R-Cape May Landing).
New Jersey became the 12th state to ratify the ERA on April 17, 1972. The Assembly voted 62-4 in favor of ratification. The Senate had voted for ratification on March 28, 34-0. Both houses were controlled by Republicans at the time.