Women, Advocates Speak on Equal Rights Amendment at Illinois House Committee Hearing

CHICAGO, IL – The 46 year fight to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) persisted in the Illinois House of Representatives at a committee hearing today, where advocates shared their stories and explained why it is necessary to have the amendment in the US Constitution.

“In 1972, like many others my age, my two daughters and I traveled to Washington D.C. to let our legislators know that we wanted the constitution to protect us all, regardless of our sex,” said Nan Parson, a Park Ridge resident who cofounded the community organization Action Ridge last year to advocate for the ERA. “I was terribly disappointed and ashamed when my own state refused to ratify the ERA because of scare tactics used by opponents to convince women that they should stay locked in the past, and that’s why I’m urging Governor Rauner to talk to Republicans in the House and urge them to do the right thing and vote for the ERA now.”

Currently, 36 state legislatures have approved the Equal Rights Amendment out of the 38 necessary to reach a three-fifths majority, as required by the United States Constitution. Although the push to ratify the ERA fell three states short by the deadline in 1982, extended from the original time limit in 1979, there is legal precedent indicating that it’s within the power of Congress to remove this constraint should two more states approve the ERA.

“It was never shocking to the women I’ve worked with as a real estate finance lawyer that they were being paid less than their male counterparts. However, when these women realized that this wage discrimination impacted not only their salaries but the earnings of the women and men whom they supervised, it was a wake-up call that something had to change – unfair treatment creates a ripple effect that extends far beyond you,” said Laura Carroll DeBolt, a Tinley Park resident. “I talk to my fifteen year old stepdaughter about this so she understands the challenges she’s up against. We’re passing on enough burdens to our children already, and that’s why I’m calling on my own state Rep. Margo McDermed to vote for the ERA and give them one less fight to continue.”

“As a woman of faith and a Catholic Christian, I believe all people were created in the image of God, worthy of respect and dignity” said Sister Bernadine Karge, a Chicago resident and immigration lawyer. “The history of our laws show how women have been excluded from recognition and full participation in American society. The implications can still be seen today in income inequality due to wage discrimination, hiring practices that prevent women from opportunities to flourish, and a culture that is built on domination of women, rather than cooperation between women and men to seek the common good.  I am asking you, lawmakers of our state and Bruce Rauner, the Governor: Do what you can to pass the Equal Rights Amendment.”