ERA one step closer to ratification after passage in the Assembly

Photo Courtsey of the Kheel Center. The International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union Western Pennsylvania held their Equal Rights Amendment demonstration in 1978. The ERA was adopted by Congress in 1972, but was never ratified by the states.

The Nevada State Assembly chose to follow the legislature’s upper chamber in its steps toward making history when they voted 28 to 14 to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment last Monday.

It has been over 35 years since the United States Congress set a seven-year deadline for the states to ratify the ERA.

The ERA was spearheaded in the Senate by State Sen. Patricia Spearman, D-Las Vegas, who addressed concerns that several Republican senators had about voting to support the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment.

“The objections to ratifying the ERA are false, disingenuous and misleading,” Spearman said. “As such, opposition to passage creates a default position yielding to the antiquated notion of misogynistic patriarchy.”

Spearman also addressed concerns with Congress’s seven-year deadline. Since the deadline had passed almost 40 years ago, State Sen. James Settelmeyer, R-Minden, questioned the legality of the ERA and said that even if Nevada passes it, there would still need to be two additional states to pass it for ratification.

Spearman said that Congress’ deadline was not in the actual bill of the text of the amendment and therefore passage was still possible.

In the Senate, Senate Joint Resolution 2, which would ratify the ERA, passed in a 13 to 8 vote. Only one Republican voted in favor of its passage in the Senate, Heidi Gansert.

“I understand now today, here in Nevada and across the world, there’s a crescendo building … I can hear it, and I can feel it,” Gansert said.

Patricia Farley, an Independent from Las Vegas, also voted in favor of the resolution.

State Sen. Becky Harris, R- Las Vegas, was the only female in the body to vote against the resolution, claiming it offers “empty promises and hollow platitudes” and worried it would separate families if women were allowed to be drafted into the military.

Only one Republican assemblywoman, Jill Tolles, R-Reno, voted against the rest of her party in favor of the ratification of the ERA.

“I would argue that this chamber is full of symbolism,” Tolles said. “On my left hand, I wear a ring that symbolizes my promise to love and respect and be faithful to one man for the rest of my life. We stand underneath a seal that reminds us that we are a battle born state and home means Nevada. We pledge allegiance to a flag every single day to celebrate the freedom that was so hard fought for.”

Assemblywoman Robin Titus, R-Lyon and Churchill county, didn’t buy the symbolism argument, saying she was “deeply disturbed by the theatrics” in regards to the ERA ratification in the legislature.

“I don’t believe my constituents sent me to cast symbolic votes with no chance of success,” Titus said.

Despite the pushback from the Republicans in the legislature, the ERA passed in the Assembly and will now go back to the Senate to approve some technical amendments before it is given to the office of the Vice President of the U.S. and the Speaker of the House.

Spearman told the Los Angeles Times that a Senate vote on the amendments is likely to happen Wednesday.

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