I am on the Women and the Law Committee of the Illinois Start Bar Association for the second year in a row, and our section has been pushing for the support of Illinois ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution (or, the “ERA”). The ERA is designed to ensure that discrimination based upon sex does not occur, and to give our citizens a course of action should they be exposed to such a thing.
The ERA and gender equality have traditionally been looked at as women’s issues; however, in our modern society, gender inequality has become a growing issue for men as well. For instance, men also suffer from discrimination based upon sex. It is currently easier for a woman to confer citizenship on a child under the US Immigration and Nationality Act.
The current status of the ERA is that the 2014 Illinois Senate voted 39-11 in favor of it. The House did not take the matter up before the end of the legislative session. Supporters intend to reintroduce this at the next legislative session. If more committees and bar associations supported the ERA, it would give it momentum to potentially pass.
One of the biggest reasons that the ERA was not supported in previous years was because women did not want to go into combat. Women are now able to do so, regardless. Additionally, there were other fears of unisex bathrooms arising, which seem to be arising anyway nowadays given on the current societal norms.
The most important thing that the ERA would do is ensure protection based upon gender. Women occupy only 18.5 percent of seats in Congress, 5% of the CEO’s of fortune 1000 companies and 23% of federal judges. Gender inequality is not something that should be an issue in today’s day and age, but unfortunately, it is, and thus it is important for the general public to be knowledgeable about these issues and do what they can to try and level the playing field for everyone.
Thank you to the Standing Committee on Women and the Law of the Illinois State bar Association for the factual and background information as well as research contained in this blog post.