RICHMOND, Va. -- Virginia moved a step closer to passing the Equal Rights Amendment on Tuesday, even as the amendment's future nationally remains in doubt.
A House committee approved a resolution to ratify the gender equality measure, which could become the next amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
The 13-9 vote split along party lines, with all Democrats supporting it and all Republicans opposing it.
A Senate committee already advanced a similar resolution. The resolutions are now before the full House and Senate, and final passage could come as soon as this week.
ERA advocates say the measure will enshrine equality for women in the Constitution, offering stronger protections in sex discrimination cases. Opponents warn it will erode commonsense protections for women, such as workplace accommodations during pregnancies.
Once the measure advances fully through both chambers, Virginia would become the decisive 38th state to approve it, surpassing the three-quarters of states needed to add an amendment to the Constitution.
But even if it's ratified, court battles are expected over a long-passed 1982 deadline set by Congress, as well as other legal issues.