Mary E Flowers

Illinois becomes the 37th state to ratify the federal ERA

Illinois on Wednesday became the 37th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, putting the country only one state away from a landmark change to the U.S. Constitution guaranteeing equal rights for women.

The historic passage was nearly half a century in the making, and came 38 years after supporters staged hunger strikes and floor sit-ins in a futile attempt to persuade the Illinois Legislature to OK the proposal by what was a congressionally set deadline.

The Illinois House approved the amendment 72-45 Wednesday. The Senate approved it 43-12 in April.

Rep. Lou Lang, the Skokie Democrat who sponsored the proposal, called the vote a historic moment for lawmakers...