The following is what State Senator Karen McConnaughay prepared in anticipation of her comments for the Equal Rights Amendment:
It is disturbing to me that we stand here today, with just over a week until adjournment debating a contentious, outdated amendment that is older than many of our staffers and even some of our colleagues.
We are talking about a failed amendment from 32 years ago while immediate issues facing Illinois today remain unresolved.
Please don’t misunderstand, I am a dedicated advocate for women’s rights and a beneficiary of those rights, I spent 8 years as the first female Chair of the Kane County Board, and now proudly represent the 33rd chamber.I am incredibly grateful for the work done by women throughout our nation’s history that have paved the way for myself and others to achieve these careers.
I look at what we have accomplished here in Illinois to ensure equality for all. The Illinois equal pay act ensures women are paid the same as men.
Marriage equality became law last year, discrimination against women is prohibited by Illinois Human Rights Act and the Illinois Constitution. This week, I was proud to support Senator Hutchinson’s legislation providing reasonable accommodation for pregnant women.
While not perfect we have done much since the 1980’s to provide equality for Illinois citizens.
Unfortunately, I would say this Amendment is not at the top of the list of issues that women today are concerned about.
If the point of this amendment is to distract women from the real issues, then we aren’t being given enough credit.
Women are smart, and we are keenly aware that the big issues facing the state, like the budget, taxes, unemployment and education are the very same issues that pose the greatest threat to our families.
Like many women, I’m a wife and a mother, when I think about the issues I care about most, I think how they will affect my children and yours. I worry about providing proper education funding for all children of Illinois.
We have huge issues in this state with how we allocate education dollars, this is an issue I would prefer to discuss.
We have the third highest unemployment rate in the nation, I worry about making sure that my adult children are able to find a job and one that won’t be shipped to another state.
Why isn’t any of these our topics of discussion?
I believe women in Illinois are far more interested in how we’re going to pass a budget that allows the 67 percent tax hike to expire as promised so they can have that week’s pay they’ve lost every year since 2011.
They are more interested in putting food on the table, than they are in this amendment.
We’ve heard that it is “symbolically important” to pass this amendment.
Well I think most women today would tell you that symbolism can wait, but the real issues facing Illinois cannot.
If we are really concerned about helping women, then can we please start addressing the issues that women are telling us they actually care today?
I take equal rights for women very seriously, but I can’t stand for those rights to be used as a political diversion.
I will be voting pr