Rauner under pressure to support Equal Rights Amendment

Standing with a host of supporters of the Equal Rights Amendment, J.B. Pritzker put Governor Bruce Rauner on the spot.

"Today I want to call on this governor to get off the sidelines and finally, finally summon the courage to lead. This isn't hard, women are asking for some basic rights," Pritzker said.

It's an issue that has gained momentum in the past two years, with millions of supporters taking to the streets in marches across the country, as part of a broader movement to empower women.

In Springfield, lawmakers are poised to put a constitutional amendment to a vote. If it were to pass, Illinois would become the 37th state to ratify the ERA. Constitutional amendments require the support of 38 states.

"A vote against this measure is a vote against women, make no mistake about it," said Lou Lang, D-Skokie.

Any such vote would be largely symbolic with the ERA ratification date having expired in 1982. But supporters say it's still important.

"The Me Too movement has brought to light the conditions under which many women have to work and the harassment they have to endure. To those who say the time has past for ERA, I say nonsense," said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.

Opponents, including social conservatives, point to fact that Illinois already has its own Equal Right Amendment. And there are also concerns about abortion.

"We believe the ERA amendment is all about extending abortion right across the country where taxpayers have to fund it, at will, on demand," said State Representative Jeanne Ives, R-Wheaton.

With concerns about taking any stand that might further anger his base this election year, Governor Rauner has refused to directly support the Amendment.

"I've made my position clear, I support equal rights for everyone," Rauner said.

Lang, the House sponsor of the ERA resolution, did not have enough supporters on hand to call it for a vote today with three democrats absent. He would not say when the vote might take place. The Senate already approved it last month. The resolution does not need the governor's signature.
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