Illinois becomes 37th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment

Illinois became the 37th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment

After a two hour debate in the House Wednesday, Illinois became the 37th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment.

The ERA needed 71 votes to pass in the House. After a nail-biting moment, the House approved the resolution in a 72-45 vote.

The amendment was passed in the Senate in April, but hit some speed bumps in the House.

Knowing the vote would be close, ERA House sponsor Rep. Lou Lang made the following plea to lawmakers.

"This is a historic moment," Lang, D-Skokie, said. "It’s not a bill about whether we’re going to do this thing or that thing or the budget we’re going to vote on, and the next morning you wake up and you go, 'oh well, I was right, I was wrong.' And you go back home with all your clothes and you go back to your other jobs if you have them or you back to your families. This is about the United States Constitution people."

The ERA would amend the U.S Constitution.

“It’s about time we get this done,” Rep. Laura Fine, D-Glenview, said. “37 is a great number. Let’s be the 37th state to ratify the ERA.”

The ERA was first approved by Congress in 1972, the Equal Rights Amendment would guarantee all people are treated equally regardless of their gender.

“Let’s stand up for black women, white women, brown women, women of all kind and pass the ERA today,” Rep. Chris Welch, D-Westchester, said.

Many representatives said it’s long past time to have the ERA language add to the U.S. Constitution.

"Our obligation is to acknowledge our privilege and vote yes for those who don't have the gifts that we were given, the gifts that brought us into this role, the gifts that gave us this responsibility today to make the world a better place for those who may not feel safe standing up, for those who may not feel that they were raised with the confidence to speak their minds,” Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago, said. “Please, it’s simple. It’s a handful of words.”

But there is also opposition.

Those against the amendment said it could cause gender designations to be removed from prisons and bathrooms.

They also said it would support abortion.

Another argument made is that it's just words on paper.

“We don’t need a defunct law that’s been dead for decades to solve the problems of women’s issues, we need men to be strong and support women as their equals,” Rep. Jeanne Ives, R-Wheaton, said. "Otherwise you’re just putting another law on the books and it won’t mean anything.”

“The fact of the matter is for you to talk about this ERA as if we’re living back in 1923,” Rep. Mary Flowers, D-Chicago, said. “Shame on you sir, because why don’t you tell the truth. That things have changed.”

This isn’t the first time the Illinois General Assembly has tried to ratify the ERA, but it's the first time they were successful.

One more state needs to ratify the ERA for it to get the support needed to be added to the United States Constitution.

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