It's #meToo time for the Equal Rights Amendment in the Illinois legislature

It’s past time for Illinois lawmakers to take a stand in support of Equal Rights for Women.

Here’s the ONE thing you need to know about the status of the ERA: There is no United States federal constitutional provision that expressly guarantees equality on the basis of sex.

And, Hello! Illinois lawmakers have in this legislative session the decisive votes to make equal rights for women one state closer to law.

In the next weeks, the General Assembly will be voting on measure SJRCA4, which proposes to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, making it the 28th Amendment. Thirty eight states must ratify an amendment before it can become part of the U.S. Constitution. If the law is ratified in Illinois, the U.S. will be only one state away.

Last time our Illinois lawmakers voted on the Equal Rights amendment, in 2014, six of our state Senators side-stepped their commitment to women’s rights by being present but not voting.

This is a call out to you State Sen. Pam Althoff (R-McHenry) State Sen. Bill Haine (D-Alton) State Sen. Steve Landek (D-Burbank), State Sen. Karen McConnaughy (R-St. Charles), State Sen. Sue Rezin (R-Morris) And State Sen. Dave Syverson (R-Rockford).

We. Are. Watching. Do the right thing and support SJRCA4.

Women are resolute. This is a dynamic time of social change, and outrage expressed minimally by the hashtag #meToo, which Wikipedia estimates was used more than 200,000 times by Oct. 15, tweeted more than 500,000 times by Oct. 16, and used on Facebook by more than 4.7 million people in 12 million posts during the first 24 hours. That’s a frozen moment in time compared with the continuous river of harassment women experience in their everyday lives.

Now a culture of sexual harassment has put Illinois legislators themselves under the spotlight as an open letter detailing sexual harassment in Springfield garnered signatures from more than 160 women and men seeking decent treatment by our elected representatives.

Clearly. This must stop.

Some of us have been waiting 30 years for equal rights, but our daughters are standing with us now and together we will do what it takes to make this amendment law.

The text of the current Equal Rights Amendment Legislation SJRCA4 includes only three provisions:

  • Equality of rights under law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State on account of sex.
  • The Congress shall have the power to enforce by appropriate legislation the provisions of this article.
  • The Amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.

As State Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago) told the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin: “It’s just saying there should not be discrimination on account of sex. It’s very straightforward. … It’s hard to believe that in this day and age there are folks who would argue we shouldn’t have as many protections for women as we have for men.”

We agree, Senator. We agree.

To ramp up your knowledge and get involved, read this illuminating article on the History of the Equal Rights Amendment by Jessica Ravitz for CNN. Listen to NPR reporting on Nevada’s passage of the bill earlier in 2017. Catch a screening of Equal means Equal in your town. Or take action using new tools that will help you have voice in the process from the simplicity of your smart phone.

Get active on Amplify

Best yet — Act. Tell your Illinois representative to Vote YES on SJRCA4, to ratify the ERA. You can do this easily on your smart phone using the free Amplify app.

  1. Use your phone to go to getamplify.org/install to download the app
  2. Press 'Create New Account' to sign up, and enter an email address and password
  3. Enter the Chicago Women Take Action invite code: 973-107-100
  4. Go to Action: Tell your Ill. Senator to vote YES on SRJCA4, to ratify the ERA.

File a witness slip using Legislated

To take a stand on sexual harassment in the Illinois legislature, visit the site Legislated, a free website developed by activists and ChiHackNight, Chicago’s civic hacking group. There you can register to file a Witness Slip with the Illinois Legislature as a proponent of HJR83, Sexual Harassment in Government, which urges those in government to commit to working to change the culture that breeds sexual harassment.

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