Estimated 10,000 demonstrators march to the Capitol building in Springfield, Ill., to support the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment on May 16, 1976. (Anonymous / AP)
From the Chicago Tribune:
Illinois approves Equal Rights Amendment, 36 years after deadline
The Illinois House voted Wednesday night to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment more than 45 years after it was approved by Congress, putting it one state away from possible enshrinement in the U.S. Constitution amid potential legal questions.
The 72-45 vote by the House, following an April vote by the Senate, was just one more vote than needed for ratification. It does not need the approval of Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, who has said he supports equal rights but was faulted by Democrats for not taking a position on the ERA.
“I am appalled and embarrassed that the state of Illinois has not done this earlier,” said Democratic Rep. Stephanie Kifowit of Oswego, a Marine veteran. “I am proud to be on this side of history and I am proud to support not only all the women that this will help, that this will send a message to, but I am also here to be a role model for my daughter.”
Helping to propel momentum for the measure was a resurgence in activism for women’s rights amid national demands to root out sexual discrimination and harassment in American culture in response to the #MeToo movement...
So how long has the ERA been lingering in the limbo of Illinois politics?
This excerpt from the Mike Royko column from almost exactly 40 years ago -- "Bucking Hard for the Equal Rights Amendment" -- will give you some idea.
“I was talking to an ERA lady recently. She was fretting that the (Equal Rights) amendment might again fail in Illinois, after all of her hard work.
She showed me a list of about a dozen legislators and asked if I had any idea what kind of approach in bringing them around to her side.
I said: "Make the drop."
She looked puzzled and asked: "Make the what?"
"The drop. Give them some money."
She still didn’t understand. "Money? For what?"
She looked horrified and gasped: "Bribes?"
"Well you can call it a campaign contribution, if it will make you feel better."
She laughed and said: "Oh, you're just kidding".
But of course Mike was not kidding.
That’s the trouble with the ERA crowd and most do-gooders.
They are earnest, diligent, and energetic. But they don’t have much sense.
Throughout the history of this state, sly people have been getting what they want out of Springfield. They haven’t done it by being honest, earnest, diligent, and energetic. All these qualities get you is laughed at by the legislators and called a goo-goo .
They have done it by throwing a shoebox full of money through the transom of a Springfield hotel room.
But the ERA ladies don't understand that. As I told the lady I mentioned above: "It would be much cheaper too. You could probably but the votes of the dozen guys on that list for $5,000."
"I can't believe that," she said.
See? They don't even read about the bribery trials of legislators. They have no idea what a bargain Springfield can be.
At the time, the ERA people had an Illinois war chest of around $200K which, in 1978-adjusted dollars, was twice what one of Mike's shady friends who knew how such things worked would have needed to not only pass the ERA, but send a contingent of Illinois legislators to other states to tell them how awesome passing the ERA would be for them.
And if, for some reason, they had been hell-bent on spending the whole $200K not on zippy charts and glossy pamphlets but on greasing the right people?
40 years later and way too many of my fellow do-gooders still refuse to understand the difference between what it actually takes to move the needle in politics...My friend the expert looked dreamy as he said: "For $200,000? For that we would not only pass the ERA by a landslide, but they could probably get something else.
"For that much money, I think I could get them a highway."
...and picking on your banjo and wishing the world was otherwise.
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