Illinois Equal Rights Amendment Advocates Urge Ratification

Apr 9, 2018

Those in favor of a measure they say would help get an amendment closer to being added to the U.S. Constitution will head to the statehouse to lobby for it on Tuesday.

A group of women recently gathered in the community room of a Springfield grocery store to paint rocks with stickers on them that link to information about the Equal Rights Amendment. They are part of a contingent across the state that is urging state lawmakers to approve a measure for its ratification. 

The ERA needed 38 states to approve it, but only 35 did by a 1982 deadline. Illinois was not one of them. There's a measure in play that would have the state ratify it - some argue if enough states come through ratification is still viable. Kari Tate is co-founder of a group that calls themselves the 'Resistor Sisterhood.' She said, "The ERA would give women an equal standing along with men - it's not just for women."

The amendment would seek to end a legal distinction between the sexes - which could help men in areas like divorce agreements.

Tate says one of the most important factors is that "it will also empower women to secure equal pay." Opponents have long argued it would hurt women - making them eligible for a draft, for instance. Supporters say they'll keep working to see it ratified, 45 years after it reached congressional approval.

Tate explained that while Illinois already has language in its own Constitution similar to the ERA, "What it does is it moves the conversation to the national level where it needs to be happening for other states that do not have the kind of protections that we do have."

Nevada ratified last year. Still, it's unclear what would happen if two more states do secure the votes for ratification, given the congressional deadline passed decades ago.