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Support for ERA ratification gains 'momentum'; House to vote

Bloomington Pantagraph

Thursday, May 17, 2018  |  Article  |  Julia Evelsizer

Constitutions (24) , Women/Men (96) Barickman, Jason--State Senate, 53 , Brady, Dan--State House, 105

BLOOMINGTON — Supporters of the Equal Rights Amendment say the measure is “closer than ever” to receiving state ratification.

The momentum is strong now with a lot of public support. I’m nervous but very hopeful it will pass,” said Sally Pancrazio, co-chair of the ERA Illinois Coalition of Bloomington-Normal.

On Wednesday, the Illinois House Human Services committee approved the amendment on party lines, 7-5. Now, it goes to the House where the measure will need 71 votes to make Illinois the 37th state to ratify the amendment first proposed in 1972.

The constitutional amendment guarantees equal rights for all citizens regardless of sex. Approval in 38 states is required to make the ERA part of the U.S. Constitution.

Barickman said he supports the proposal because he wants to “reinforce the notion that all people should be treated fairly and equally.”

“The reality is, Republicans are split on the measure,” Barickman said Wednesday. “One of the primary drivers of opposition I’ve heard is concerns that the ERA would have an impact on abortion rights. As a pro-life Republican, I took that concern very seriously and studied it. I concluded there is not going to be an impact on abortion rights that stems from the ERA.”

State Rep. Dan Brady, R-Bloomington, said he supports the current ratification bill mainly because he has “seen no direct or indirect correlation that has anything to do with abortion.”

“I voted against it in the past when it was brought to the House floor when I found indirect connections to abortion rights,” he said. “That was long ago removed. I don’t find myself having a reason to oppose it. I want to support equal rights for all, primarily for those in the workplace.”

Some opponents also argue the ratification could lead to gender-neutral bathrooms and force women to join a military draft.

“I’m very hopeful our representatives can see beyond those kind of scare tactics,” said Pancrazio.

Though the legislation (SJRCA4) has passed to the full House, lawmakers are unsure of when the vote will take place and Barickman said it’s “difficult to say where those votes lie.”

“The vote won’t move forward in the House unless the sponsor (Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie) has enough votes to pass it,” said Dan Brady.

Lang, the deputy majority leader, called out its opponents as anti-women, while Democratic governor candidate J.B. Pritzker called on Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner to "get off the sidelines" and encourage House Republicans to vote for the amendment.

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

The ratification of the ERA has never been approved by the House and the Senate in the same year.

“I’m grateful for all the support from Dan Brady and Jason Barickman,” she said. “They have showed incredible leadership within the party to ratify and give men and women equal rights.”

Ironically, voters added an ERA to the Illinois Constitution in 1970, guaranteeing equal protection of the laws regardless of sex. It does not apply to U.S. law, however.