Illinois became the 37th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment on Wednesday, marking a landmark victory for women nearly 50 years after the measure passed through Congress.
In a landmark vote Wednesday evening, the Illinois House of Representatives passed the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), moving the measure one step closer to possible enshrinement in the U.S. Constitution.
The vote makes Illinois the 37th state to ratify the ERA, which outlaws discrimination based on gender in every state. The measure passed the state Senate on April 11, and it does not need the backing of Gov. Bruce Rauner (R).
Congress approved the ERA in 1972, setting the stage for the amendment to be enshrined in the Constitution. The proposed amendment was then sent to state legislatures with bipartisan support, but after garnering 35 of the necessary 38 state ratifications, it hit a wall of opposition by conservative women’s groups.
Progress on the ERA stalled for the next 45 years, until Nevada became the 36th state to ratify it in 2017.
With the passage of the ERA in Illinois, only one more state ratification is needed to meet the threshold to be added to the Constitution. However, the deadline for states to ratify the amendment expired in 1982. Congress will have to remove that deadline for it to become the 28th Amendment.
The historic vote, which came on the same day that Virginia voted to expand Medicaid, is yet another sign of the energized progressive movement sweeping across the country — a movement that is driven by women.
Fed up with persistent inequities like the gender pay gap, and fueled by anti-Trump backlash as well as a growing number of sexual misconduct scandals surrounding male politicians, women are participating in politics in unprecedented numbers.
A historic number of women are running for office this year, and many of them are already sweeping the floor with their male counterparts when it comes to fundraising.
Meanwhile, movements like the Women’s March have mobilized activists across the country and inspired many women to get involved in politics for the first time.
A lot of women say they want to show their daughters and other young girls and women that the system works — and they believe the best way to do that is by jumping into the system and changing it themselves.
Trump may occupy the airwaves, but the real energy is on the ground and in the streets, where women are hard at work making history.