Illinois has ratified the Equal Rights Amendment a mere 36 years after the deadline for ratification, 46 years after it passed Congress, and 97 years after it was introduced. The amendment, which calls for men and women to have equal rights under state and federal law, was approved by 35 of the necessary 38 states when the deadline passed in 1982, CNN reports. Nevada finally approved it in 2017 and advocates hope it will finally be added to the Constitution if one more state ratifies it, though five states have rescinded their original ratifications, meaning there could be a legal battle even if the magic number of 38 is reached, Reuters reports. The amendment failed in Virginia's legislature earlier this year.
The measure passed the Illinois House with a single vote to spare in a victory that NPR calls a "stark turnaround" for the home state of conservative Phyllis Schlafly, an anti-feminist activist who campaigned against the ERA in the '70s. "Years in the making, yesterday's vote in Illinois brings us one step closer," says Lenora Lapidus, director of the ACLU Women's Rights Project. "We look forward to more progress being made, and ensuring that women are explicitly protected against discrimination." With calls to revive the amendment growing stronger amid the #MeToo movement, Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney plans to hold a congressional hearing on the ERA next week. It will be the first since 1984. (Read more Equal Rights Amendment stories.)