Jesiel debates future protections offered by ERA amendment
The proposed Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the state's constitution that tied in a committee vote raised questions with Rep. Sheri Jesiel (R-Winthrop Harbor).
During the May 15 House Human Services Committee Hearing, Jesiel had a heated back and forth with Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie) over SJRCA4, which purports to end any legal and other distinctions between genders.
The recent Republican support and April 11 Senate vote have struck up some controversy in Springfield. Lang began noting the prior week’s four-hour hearing over the amendment and how the constitution did not acknowledge women until the 19th amendment was ratified to allow for female voting.
“People will say this is about abortion, bathrooms or the military, and all other things, but ladies and gentlemen this is about red herrings,” Lang said.
Jesiel said another red herring includes fraternities and sororities as well as striking down Title 9 before questioning the bill’s language.
“You argue that they are red herrings, but what is to say they will not be something that is raised in the future?” Jesiel asked. “There is no protection that says anything about those.”
All laws and provisions are subject to interpretation, according to Lang, who said that is why there are three branches of government. Using Jesiel’s district of Lake County as one example, Lang said courts would be able to determine whether there was differential treatment of genders.
“We are not going to pass a law allowing co-ed prisons,” Lang said. "If we did, it would be struck down."
While Lang stressed that scholarships will not be lost and genders will not have to share the same bathroom, Jesiel said he could not possibly know that.
“In the interest of time, there are many things I can rebut, but I won’t,” Jesiel said.
She did make one thing clear, however.
“You said it doesn’t require, but at the same time it doesn’t prohibit,” she said.
She said some accommodations left out of the amendment language do not promise certain restrictions.
“I have daughters and I have a granddaughter, and equal opportunity is extremely important to me…but to put in a situation where you don’t know the outcomes down the line, where we can’t assure that these things would not happen, does not do my kids or granddaughter any service,” Jesiel concluded.
SJRCA4 tied the committee vote, and will now move forward to the House floor for debate and vote.