The Equal Rights Amendment: Why has it taken this long to ratify - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

The Equal Rights Amendment: Why has it taken this long to ratify?

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SPRINGFIELD -- The Illinois Senate finally signs off on the Equal Rights Amendment, a vote nearly three dozen other states took in the 1970s.

The Equal Rights Amendment guarantees women get the same treatment as men, especially in the workplace.

"It was hugely successful right at first and raced through state legislatures," Paul Simon Public Policy Institute analyst John Jackson said. "And all of a sudden, it stopped."

That is until March 2017, when Nevada became the 36th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment.

Illinois could be the 37th, one shy of what's needed to add it to the U.S. constitution.

Jackson said most people believed Illinois would easily ratify the amendment, but that didn't happen.

"Illinois hit a wall and in that time the name of the wall was Phyllis Schlafly."

Schlafly ran an influential political group, The Eagle Forum, and was a major Republican political donor for decades.

"Illinois was then and now a Democratic state and, by comparison, a fairly liberal state, so everyone thought Illinois would pass it because of those characteristics," Jackson said. "But she stopped it cold along with her supporters."

Four decades went by with no action in Springfield.

"They couldn't ever get their act together," Jackson said. "It's easier to stop things in the American process than it is to initiate and move things through to successful legislation."

Jackson believes lawmakers simply didn't have the issue on their radar until recently.

"I think this is a byproduct of the #MeToo movement, for example, the whole movement about women being abused, much of that abuse happening in workplace situations," Jackson said.

Republican State Senators Paul Schimpf (R-Waterloo) and Dale Fowler (R-Harrisburg) voted against the Equal Rights Amendment.  

Schimpf's spokeswoman said he wouldn't be able to comment Monday and Fowler said he wants to see a better amendment, one that doesn't potentially expand abortion services.

One more state has to ratify the amendment and then the four states that rescinded their ratifying votes have to settle their disputes.

Before all that, the Illinois House has to approve it as well, something they could take up as early as this week.

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