On Wednesday, April 11th Illinois moved halfway closer to becoming the thirty seventh state to ratify the historic Equal Rights Amendment of 1972. The Illinois Senate ratified the amendment with a vote of 43-12, with no debate on the Senate floor. When the amendment was originally introduced, it was ratified by only 35 states, meaning that it fell short of full ratification by the 1982 deadline. While some might view Illinois ratification in 2018 as largely symbolic since it would come 36 years after the amendments official deadline, advocates note that with a three-states solution, the amendment could still go into effect if three additional states vote in favor of the Equal Rights Amendment and the deadline is extended.
As the amendment moves to the Illinois House, there is much debate over its possibilities of ratification, especially in light of the #MeToo movement and the clear need for more legal protections for women throughout the US. While the amendment has been passed by both chambers in the past, it has never been ratified by both in the same year. The amendment needs to win 71 votes of approval in the House in order to be ratified, more than the usual 60 needed to pass a typical law.
In 1992 Rep. Williams worked for the passage of the ERA in Iowa as a young law student. Then, she stood with Eleanor Smeal on the steps of the Iowa capitol for an ERA rally, and joined women of all ages, races and backgrounds in the pouring rain that Election Day holding signs in support of the ERA. Unfortunately they did not prevail.
Now, as a state representative 26 years later, she plans on joining women (and men) of all ages, races and backgrounds serving in the Illinois General Assembly in enthusiastically voting for the ERA.
Rep. Williams cannot wait to stand with the women of Illinois who have been fighting for equality – many for decades – and push the green “yes” button in support of women’s equality.