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Lawmakers urged to ratify equal rights amendment

ILLINOIS (WCIA) -- In honor of Equal Pay Day, women took to the Capitol to fight a decades-old battle for equal wages.

They say women deserve equality under the law and they're calling on lawmakers to rise up and join the movement. One major way is by adopting the Equal Rights Amendment, found in the U.S. Constitution.

Simply put, the amendment protects someone from being discriminated against on the basis of gender and ensures equal rights for men and women.

Since it passed Congress in the 70's, 37 states have adopted it. Illinois is not one of them. In fact, it's the only northern state which hasn't done so.

It takes 38 states for an amendment to become part of the Constitution. That's why, Tuesday, women's rights' advocates were pushing for Illinois to be the final piece of the puzzle.

But, they've tried it before; each time being struck down. Illinois already has a law giving women and men equal protections.

One woman has been pushing for a Constitutional change in the state since the 1970's. She says the issue is bigger than just one state.

Lawmakers who object to the change say it opens the door for abortion rights. The bill is a joint resolution and needs a super-majority to pass.

Supporters say they feel, in today's political climate, they should have better luck this year. This is just one of a few pieces of legislation tackling gender discrimination and the prevailing wage gap between men and women.

Right now, two other initiatives are in motion to stop employers from asking someone's wage history. Missouri, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi are among the states which have not adopted the U.S. Equal Rights Amendment.

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