A few weeks ago the Illinois State Senate voted to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. Now it is up to the Illinois House of Representatives. It has passed out of committee and we are now waiting for the seventy-one votes needed to ratify it. Illinois would be the thirty-seventh out of the thirty-eight states needed to finally put this amendment into law. This should be a no-brainer, but as predicted this has brought out the anti-ERA groups and their flawed, obsolete arguments against the amendment. One of these groups is the Illinois Family Institute, which has been identified as a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center. They have been robo-calling residents of Illinois trying to scare them with their invalid claims about the amendment. They are also threatening state senators and representatives promising to use their resources to run candidates against them in the next primary.
The question here is what is behind the anti-woman agenda? What benefit would be gained from keep women suppressed? What do they fear? Women are 51% of the population. Do they think women will become too powerful? Or do they just want to control women?
We cannot allow our state or our country to be held hostage by these hate groups. Without this amendment, laws that we currently have to protect women can be reversed. Women have fought too hard to lose ground in their quest for equality. We cannot allow our rights to be vulnerable to the changing views of political parties. Finally ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment would give women equal justice under the law.
We must be cognizant of the facts when listening to the unfounded arguments spewed by these hate groups. They love to use the "abortion" word as a lightening rod to repel people away from the true issues. Roe v. Wade was decided on the Right to Privacy, not on the question of equal rights. In fact, the equal rights clause in our Illinois State Constitution, which has been there since the 1970's, has never been used to support or protect abortion rights. The concern about women in the military is obsolete. Our military is currently made up of men and women so the draft issue is not dependent on the passage of the ERA. The argument that women would no longer receive their spouse's social security is invalid. Social security has been gender inclusive for surviving spouses since a legal challenge in 1979. The claim that the ERA would somehow invalidate Title IX and boys would then be able to play on girl's sports teams makes no sense. Title IX went into effect in 1972 and the equal rights clause was put into the Illinois State Constitution around the same time. Obviously the ERA clause had no effect on the benefits girls and women have enjoyed from Title IX.
The Equal Rights Amendment would help the women's fight against the gender pay gap, female poverty, domestic violence, rape and sexual assault, pregnancy discrimination, healthcare and reproductive rights. It would also send a powerful message that the U.S. Constitution has zero tolerance for sex discrimination under the law.
Come on Illinois! Call your state representatives. Help us move women into the modern age and pass the ERA.
Kathy Campisi Freeman
Tinley Park, Illinois