Illinois Democrats pressure Republicans to pass Equal Rights Ame - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Illinois Democrats pressure Republicans to pass Equal Rights Amendment

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SPRINGFIELD -- An Illinois bill several decades in the making to guarantee equal rights for women faces an uphill battle.

It would ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, something Congress passed in 1972.

But each state has to sign off on it, and Illinois is one of 14 that still hasn't done so.

A House committee approved the bill today by a 7-5 vote; All Democrats in favor and all Republicans opposed.

That follows a similar vote in the Senate last month: a 43-12 vote with all 12 "no" votes coming from Republicans.

Conservatives have several issues with the ERA.  

The deadline to ratify the amendment passed in 1982, so this would likely be a symbolic vote.

But they're also concerned the amendment could lead to integrated prisons, unisex bathrooms, and more access to abortions.

Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie) said the amendment wouldn't lead to any of that.

"You can cloak this in any kind of language you wish but in the end, a 'no' vote is a vote against women," Lang said.

Cindy Buys, a law professor at SIU, said the court system would make sure Republican fears wouldn't come to fruition.

"And if there are concerns about safety and national security and good, logical reasons why to make distinctions between the sexes, then those may still be allowed," Buys said.

Illinois already has an Equal Rights Amendment on the books, but lawmakers are still pushing for a nationwide ERA.

If Illinois passes it, just one more state would have to approve it, and then the fight begins about that 1982 deadline.

Lang needs 71 votes to pass the amendment, a three-fifths majority.

He thinks he has enough votes, but he wants to make sure every one of those voters is in Springfield before he calls it to the floor.

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