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Following a 72-45 vote in the House, Illinois approved a measure sponsored by State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

“This is a historic day for women across the country,” Steans said. “I am thrilled that members of the House joined the Senate in standing up for women’s rights.”

The Equal Rights Amendment declares that equality of rights will not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of sex. Currently, women are not guaranteed equal rights under the U.S. Constitution.

Several advancements for women’s rights, such as the Equal Pay Act and Title IX, could be repealed by a majority vote in Congress. The Executive Branch also could reduce enforcement of these acts.

“By ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment we can provide a strong legal protection for women’s rights and prevent rollbacks from Congress or presidential administrations,” Steans said. “This amendment is still relevant and necessary.”

Though the deadline to ratify the ERA was initially set as 1982, Congress has the ability to extend that deadline.

“After nearly 50 years of opposition, we are just one state away from ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment to the constitution,” Steans said. “I encourage my colleagues in Virginia to continue the charge and become the final state to ratify the ERA.”

Legislation to ratify the ERA was introduced in both the Virginia Senate and House this year, but those measures failed to gain the necessary support to advance.

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