Illinois passes Equal Rights Amendment

Totals of the Illinois House vote on the Equal Rights Amendment. (Photo courtesy of Equality Illinois)
Totals of the Illinois House vote on the Equal Rights Amendment. (Photo courtesy of Equality Illinois)

SPRINGFIELD—The Illinois House voted Wednesday to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. Only one more state is needed to ratify the amendment.

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

Nearly a century after the amendment was drafted, the Illinois House voted 72-45 to ratify it following more than two hours of debate. Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan stood behind the speaker’s podium in the House chambers to watch the historic vote. The Illinois Senate voted to approve it in April.

While the vote may be symbolic — the country needs one more state to ratify the amendment — the state’s passage creates a window of opportunity for the embattled constitutional amendment. The state is where the efforts seized in 1982. Only 35 of the necessary 38 states ratified the amendment before the 1979 deadline set by Congress. The deadline was extended to 1982, but that made no difference as Illinois and other states remained firmly against the proposal.

After the state Senate approved the ERA in April, Deputy Majority Leader Lou Lang and Republican state Rep. Steven Andersson, R-Geneva, took time to try to muster the bipartisan 71 votes needed to approve the constitutional amendment.

Lawmakers shared impassioned personal stories of their upbringings, their daughters and their lives in the military. Some argued it was moot to push for an amendment that was created in the early 20th century.

The amendment declares that equality of rights will not be denied by the U.S. or any state on account of sex. It was originally introduced in Congress in 1923 and was sent to the states for ratification 46 years ago.

Opponents feared it could mean unisex bathrooms, allowing men to compete on women’s sports teams or doing away with athletic competition based on gender differences. They’ve also argued women already have all the protections they need under the law and that this proposed change to the constitution could only hurt them, rather than help women achieve pay equity.