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Shouldn't this be a no-brainer?

It's 2018, after all.

We're talking about the long overdue passage in Illinois of the federal Equal Rights Amendment, an issue that has been around for decades, but whose time has come again in the Land of Lincoln.

The proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution, outlawing discrimination based on gender in every state, is on the scheduled agenda Wednesday in the House Human Services Committee.

Last week, State Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, said he hopes the measure will get out of committee and go straight to the House floor for a vote.

We like that plan and the House needs to do what the Illinois Senate already has done: Pass the measure and add Illinois to the long list of states that have ratified the ERA.

The House needs at least 71 votes to make that happen, which means both Democrats and Republicans need to support it. State Rep. Steven Andersson, R-Geneva, said he's been working on rallying Republicans to vote for the bill.

Some opponents have argued the bill could lead to such things as gender-neutral bathrooms or even legalized abortion.

Andersson calls those "total head fakes" and we agree.

The measure will not change Illinois law, but will formally give women full citizenship status. 

The ERA is just what it says it is — a national declaration, long overdue,  that discrimination based on gender has no place in the United States, including in the state of Illinois.

Illinois has been late to this game for years. Thirty-five state legislatures voted to ratify the ERA before a 1982 deadline — 10 years after the ERA was originally put before the states for ratification. Illinois did not join at that time. Approval in 38 states is required to make the amendment part of the U.S. Constitution.

The amendment states a simple proposition that is as pertinent today as it was then: "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex."

Who, today, would argue against that? 

In the years since then, society as a whole has become much more intolerant of all forms of discrimination, supporting same-sex marriage and enhanced rights of the gay and lesbian community. Women fight in combat today. We are more aware and aggressive in combating all forms of bias, inequality and racism whenever and wherever it arises.

Some may argue that women are not discriminated against any longer, that they've achieved equality with men in the years since 1972.

While women have certainly made a lot of progress, there remain issues, including in pay disparity and representation in such bodies as the Illinois General Assembly. That, too, is changing and ratification of the ERA will symbolize the basic tenet that discrimination against women is wrong. 

In 2017, Nevada lawmakers ratified the ERA, becoming the 36th state to do so. If it passes the Illinois House, the Prairie State would become the 37th. 

Illinois needs to be the 37th state.

It's 2018, after all.


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