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Equal Rights Amendment Clears Hurdle Before Vote In Illinois House

Daisy Contreras / NPR Illinois

A measure to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment got approval from an Illinois House committee Wednesday, in what could be the final step before it's called for a decisive vote in that chamber.  

The measure has already passed the state Senate. Opponents argue it could mandate government funded abortions and force co-ed prison populations.

Chief sponsor and Democratic representative from Skokie, Lou Lang, says two of his colleagues told him they're worried a "yes" vote could be used against them in future campaigns.

"I told them that the women of America can't wait for them to deal with their particular politics," Lang said. He says the vote won't be held Wednesday due to attendance concerns. While the measure passed out of committee, all Republicans present voted "no."

Lang says he's holding out hope the supermajority needed to pass it will still come through. "You can cloak it in abortions, you can cloak it in coed prisons," Lang says about the opposition. "But tell 161 million people that you don't give a damn about their rights in this country."

Even though the congressional deadline passed decades ago, supporters say Illinois' approval would still be a meaningful development. Illinois has long been a battle ground for the issue. Lang says the time is now for ratification.

"For people to say that women should not be enshrined in the United States Constitution is simply appalling," he said.

90% of those who filed witness slips in the legislature support it.

Rachel Otwell of the Illinois Times is a former NPR Illinois reporter.
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