SPRINGFIELD — A much-anticipated Illinois House vote on the federal Equal Rights Amendment won't happen any earlier than next week.
On Tuesday, supporters holding an ERA rally outside of the Capitol indicated a vote on Wednesday was possible. But state Rep. Lou Lang said Wednesday morning the proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution — which outlaws discrimination based on gender in every state — will be on the agenda in the House Human Services Committee on May 16.
"We hope it will come right out (of committee) and go to the (House) floor for a vote," said Lang, D-Skokie.
Lang said he and other ERA supporters are close to getting enough votes in the House. The Senate approved the measure, SJRCA 4, a month ago.
The House needs at least 71 votes to ratify, which means both Democrats and Republicans need to support it. State Rep. Steven Andersson, R-Geneva, said he's working on rallying Republicans to vote for the bill. He said many conservative voters fear the bill would get rid of gendered bathrooms or permanently legalize abortion.
"This is not about abortion, this is not about bathrooms, et cetera," he said. "Those are total head fakes. I've looked at the case law. I understand the from a legal perspective. There is no basis for the argument that this is somehow going to cause abortion to be legal in all 50 states."
Anderson added many of his fellow Republicans support ratification, but they fear the vote being used to unseat them in a future primary. He argued they should think more in the short term to the general election this November.
"I think it would not be surprising to anyone to say that there might be a big blue wave coming," he said. "The way to win if you're a Republican in a contested district is to tact to the center."
Both Lang and Andersson called for Gov. Bruce Rauner to rally voters to support the amendment.
"While the governor does not have to sign anything we pass, the governor of the state of Illinois is its leader," Lang said. "(He) is the primo political figure in the state of Illinois and has a great bully pulpit to convince people to do the right thing."
"If we had to on the GOP side, I think we can do it without (Rauner), but I want to do it with him," said Andersson. "I want to be able to stand there proudly with him when this gets done. I want him to be a part of the celebration. I want his support."
The ERA was originally put before states in 1972. Thirty-five state legislatures voted to ratify it before a 1982 deadline. Approval in 38 states was required to make the amendment part of the U.S. Constitution.
In 2017, Nevada lawmakers ratified, becoming the 36th state to do so. If it passes the Illinois House, the Prairie State would become the 37th. If the 38-state threshold is reached, Congress may still need to vote to remove the time limit on the amendment for it to be added to the Constitution.