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And people seriously quarreled over the Equal Rights Amendment, which never became a reality in large part because Illinois failed to act to ratify it.
NOW, WE ADVANCE three-and-a-half decades to the present day, where there are those who are going about saying Illinois finally got off its collective behind and voted to ratify the constitutional amendment that says a person’s right to equal treatment should not be limited by their gender.
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For the Illinois House of Representatives on Wednesday voted to approve the amendment – making Illinois the 37th state to do so. Get 38 states to go along, and you have a change to the U.S. Constitution!
Yet I’m not convinced that Illinois’ action means much of anything – except showing that Illinois is NOT among the states where conservative ideologues prevail on social issues.
I actually think there’s a better chance that the head cheerleader of my high school days will suddenly pop back into my life and throw herself at me, than that Illinois’ action actually means the Equal Rights Amendment is now a part of law. And yes, I realize that's a very un-ERA type of thought to have.
IT ALL COMES back to the notion that there is a time limit on considering constitutional amendments, and the issue of the ERA far exceeded that limit.
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Which was March 22 1979 – although Congress voted to extend it to June 30, 1982. It still failed to get the 38 states for ratification – with Illinois’ refusal to consider the measure considered by some the move that killed the ERA.
I know of some political people who, to this day, still want to blame then-Illinois House Speaker George Ryan for the ERA’s failure and think that act is more heinous than his behavior later as secretary of state and governor that got him a six-year prison term.
So I’m not sure of the significance of the 72-45 vote the Illinois House took Wednesday, with some people who might have been sympathetic to the ERA’s goals voting “no” because they considered it a pointless action.
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I KNOW THAT from my standpoint, the General Assembly had better come up with a state budget for the upcoming fiscal year – an act it has not been able to do in any of the past three years.
If the Illinois House couldn’t sign off on a budget (which does impact state government’s daily activity) before adjourning Thursday night for the summer months but managed to find time to deal with the abstraction that the ERA has become, then there are going to be those who question political priorities.
And yes, I realize that government officials are capable (or at least they’re supposed to be) of addressing multiple issues.
But anybody who’s acting as though the Illinois House made history on Wednesday, they’re living in the past. Wednesday’s vote would have been of great historic significance for Illinois had it been done back when I was a high school junior – and not at a time when I have a nephew finishing up his high school days.
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PARTICULARLY SINCE THE Equal Rights Amendment is such a simple, declarative sentence that says all people ought to be treated equal – one whose approval should not have been any kind of controversy.
All that talk by critics about how it means the genders will have to share public bathrooms is just a bunch of bunk. Which remains all these years later among the most absurd argument I’ve ever heard made against an issue.
People opposing the Equal Rights Amendment back then and still today? It says more about your hang-ups in life than anything wrong with the concept itself.