Illinois Senate passes Equal Rights Amendment

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Illinois Senate passes Equal Rights Amendment

Kallie Cox, Staff Writer

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SPRINGFIELD – A 2001 poll found 72 percent of people believed the Constitution guaranteed equal rights regardless of sex, according to the Opinion Research Corp. However, the Constitution does not guarantee this, which is why many say the Equal Rights Amendment must be ratified.

The proposed Equal Rights Amendment states: “Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex. Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article. Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.”

According to ERA.org, the ERA was introduced to Congress in 1923 and was passed by Congress in 1972. It was then sent to the states for ratification with a seven-year deadline.

Due to the strong opposition, only 35 of the necessary 38 states have ratified it. On March 22, 2017, Nevada became the 36th state to ratify the
amendment.

Now, only two more states must pass the amendment to achieve the majority necessary to add it to the Constitution. Activists hope to make Illinois one of those states, and dozens of lobbyists gathered at the state Capitol to fight for the ERA on April 10.

The Lamp attended this lobby day, and when we asked longtime ERA lobbyist Mary K. Bachman why she decided to lobby, she stated: “I have a granddaughter, and I have been marching since the ’80s. This needs to pass!”

Those who attended the lobby day were provided with materials to hand out to their senators and representatives. Many had made appointments to speak with their officials, and those who did not were given calling cards, which enabled them to call their senators and representatives off the floor while they were in session. The Lamp attempted to get statements from state Sens. Sam McCann and William “Bill” Brady, as well as state Reps. Sara Wojcicki Jiminez and Tim Butler. However, they were not available to comment.

Professor Joseph Hoff, who teaches Spanish and coordinates LLCC’s world languages program, participated in the lobby day, and The Lamp asked him a few questions.

The Lamp: Why is the ERA important to you?
Hoff: Well, I was there when it was first introduced, and now it seems to me unfinished business that needs to get done. Politically and philosophically, it means a lot to me because “equal means equal.” And the ERA takes us one step further to actualizing the promises of our foundational values.

The Lamp: Do you believe the ERA will pass?
Hoff: I’m very hopeful that it will, but I really don’t know. It seems incredible that this has been out there for 50 years for ratification but still has not been passed.

The Lamp: How do you feel the lobby day went?
Hoff: It was a really impressive turnout. . . lots of people from all over Illinois, a wide age range . . . from someone who has been working on trying to get the ERA ratified for 50 years to very young college students.

The day after activists flooded the capitol, the amendment, sponsored by state Sen. Heather Steans, was brought to a vote in the Illinois Senate. It passed, with 43 votes in favor, and 12 in opposition. Steans said in a statement published in the Chicago Tribune, “Its high time we provide equal rights to women across the country.”

The ERA is now on its way to the house where it must also pass. If Illinois ratifies the amendment, only one more state is necessary for ratification. However, there is some question about what action might be necessary for it to be added to the constitution since the deadline for ratification was in the early 80s.

Sarah Harris, a student at Lincoln Land and vice president of Lincoln Land’s Feminist Activist Coalition, said: “I think that it is an extremely important step in furthering equality for women especially women in the workplace.”

For more information on the Equal Rights Amendment, visit ERAIllinois.org.

Kallie Cox can be reached at [email protected]