CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Nevada lawmakers ratified the Equal Rights Amendment Wednesday 45 years after the date Congress first submitted it to the states, bringing the nation two states shy — but decades past deadline — of amending the U.S. Constitution to plainly state women and men are equal under the law.
Lawmakers supporting it say the move is a profound gesture for women who continue to experience discrimination and, although it’s currently a symbolic move, the state’s ratification would be pivotal if Congress ever extends the 1982 cutoff date.
Republican opponents in Nevada have echoed the arguments made a century ago when women were fighting for the right to vote and equal constitutional protections: that the amendment would disrupt American family culture, compel women on the front lines of combat and lead to unfettered abortion access and public funding.
Four Democratic members of Congress introduced legislation this year that would restart the clock on the amendment, but Republicans control the nation’s Capitol.
The amendment required approval from 38 states to take effect.
Thirty-five states ratified it by 1977. No others joined in by a 1982 cutoff date.
Nine state legislatures have since reconsidered the amendment, but Nevada is the first to approve it after the deadline — on the Legislature’s seventh attempt in 45 years.
State senators gave final approval to Senate Joint Resolution 2 on a voice vote Wednesday. They previously approved it on a 13-8 vote and members of the Assembly voted 28-14 to pass it earlier this week.
Nevada is among four states with the highest percentages of women legislators this year, commanding nearly 40 percent of 63 statehouse seats.
Republican women at the Legislature have split on the issue of the Equal Rights Amendment; two voted in support of it and four were opposed. One independent lawmaker, a woman who formerly identified with the Republican Party, also joined Democrats in favor of it.
The resolution states that it serves as “official notice” the proposed amendment has been ratified by the Nevada Legislature, effective immediately. It will be transmitted to congressional leaders and the National Archives.
The measure does not require Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval’s signature, but he said earlier this month he supports it.
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