37 DOWN, ONE MORE TO GO: ILLINOIS RATIFIED THE EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT

A 1970s march in Florida supporting the proposed Equal Rights Amendment. Photo by Miami Herald.

On May 31st, Illinois became the 37th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), a proposed amendment that would federally ban gender-based discrimination. ERA, first drafted in the 1920s by suffragette Alice Paul, was approved by the majority of Congress in 1972. Despite approving it, Congress set a seven-year deadline for three-quarters of the states to ratify the amendment. This deadline, eventually extended to 1982, came and went with only 35 out of the requisite 38 states on board.

A woman at a rally in 2012 marking the 40th anniversary of the congressional passage of ERA. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

Public interest in ERA re-emerged in 1992 when, two centuries after Congressional approval, one of president James Madison’s amendments was ratified by the necessary majority of states, making it constitutional law. This led ERA supporters to question the amendment’s set deadline. If Madison’s amendment could go 200 years, why was there a time limit on ERA?

Alice Paul, the suffragette who originally proposed ERA in the 1920s.

In theory, only one more state (Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah or Virginia) needs to ratify ERA for it to become viable. In the face of the #MeToo movement as well as Trump’s administration, it would certainly be a triumph for women around the world. Push for ERA’s ratification by donating to the ERA Coalition and contacting representatives in remaining states.

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