Four decades ago, the Illinois House refused to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment.
The drama was high with proponents pouring animal blood outside House Speaker George Ryan’s door.
Equally intense, but less destructive of public property, opponents were mobilized by Alton’s Phyllis Schlafly under the banner “Stop ERA.”
Having read both the Equal Rights section in the Illinois Constitution, passed without opposition in 1970, and the Federal version, I could not see a difference.
Having sent a survey to every household in my five-county State Representative district which came back about 58% in favor, I voted in favor.
After all, I reasoned, my job title was “representative.”
Since the 1970’s, the Illinois language has not had controversial results.
Since then, however, I have figured out the difference between the two measures.
It has nothing to do with the texts.
It has to do with the enforcement mechanism.
While our state courts have not gone berserk, the Federal courts, in my opinion, have strayed from the Constitutional Fathers’ intent too often.
Based on Federal judge’s creativeness, I have changed my mind about the potential effects of including the ERA in the Federal Constitution.
Had it been brought up while I was in the Illinois House during the 19909’s I would have opposed passage.