Group to seek lawmakers' help in ERA push

By Michael McNutt Published: March 16, 2006
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Twenty-five years after state senators narrowly defeated a resolution to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, a push will be made next year to persuade Oklahoma lawmakers to ratify the proposal, the head of a professional-women's group said Wednesday.

"We need three additional states to get it ratified at the national level," said Connie Douglas, president of the Oklahoma Federation of Business and Professional Women, which has more than 600 members. "Florida is very close to doing it, Illinois is midway through ... and we need one other state. We're hoping to get somebody within the House of Representatives here in Oklahoma to introduce it as a bill again."

The measure, first proposed in 1972, has been ratified in 35 states. Those approvals are still valid, Douglas of Owasso said during a women's legislative day at the state Capitol.

The amendment's original deadline was 1979, but Congress extended it until 1982. Supporters say the amendment is still alive because the 27th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution -- which provides that any change in the salary of members of Congress may take effect only after the next general election -- was ratified more than 200 years after it was proposed.

"We just need some open-minded people," Douglas said. "A lot of people that we discuss this with think we already have it."

The Oklahoma Senate in January 1982 voted 27-21 to reject a resolution that would have ratified the Equal Rights Amendment. It needed 25 votes for passage.

Ten years earlier, the Senate voted by a voice vote to ratify the measure.

The Legislature in 1982 had 12 women -- just one in the Senate -- among its 149 members. Today, Oklahoma has 22 women legislators, 14 in the House and eight in the Senate.

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