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Passing Equal Rights Amendment would move Nevada into 21st century, senator says


CARSON CITY — Supporters of the Equal Rights Amendment on Tuesday disputed arguments that the time for the ratification of the amendment to the U.S. Constitutional is past, saying equality for women is long overdue.

Sen. Pat Spearman, D-North Las Vegas, who sponsored Senate Joint Resolution 2, told an Assembly committee that passage of the amendment 35 years after a congressional deadline will make a powerful statement that Nevada is ready to move from the 19th century to the 21st century.

Pay inequality is just one example of why the ERA is needed, she said.

“This resolution is about equality under the law for all people regardless of gender,” Spearman told the Assembly Legislative Operations and Elections Committee. “Now is the time for SJR2 … to become a reality.”

Opponents called the amendment nothing more than symbolic. They argue that laws enacted over the past 35 years protect gender equality and said the amendment does not account for biological differences between men and women.

While Gov. Brian Sandoval does not have to sign off on the resolution should it pass the Legislature, he said Tuesday that he supports the proposal.

Committee Chairwoman Olivia Diaz, D-North Las Vegas, said the ERA represents a civil rights issue for women.

The measure passed the Senate on a 13-8 vote. The Assembly is expected to follow suit within the next few days but the panel did not take immediate action on the measure.

Other concerns expressed by opponents at the hearing are that it would restrict states from setting limits on abortion and open up a potential military draft to women.

Spearman noted that the U.S. has not had the draft since 1973. Supporters also argued the ERA has nothing to do with abortion. Opponents argue the draft can be resurrected an any time.

DECADES-OLD PROPOSAL

Congress passed the Equal Rights Amendment in 1972. A seven-year time limit for ratification by states was later extended until 1982.

The measure was ratified by 35 states — three short of those needed to amend the Constitution. But supporters say Congress may determine whether an amendment is valid though a deadline passes.

The Nevada Legislature took up the amendment in the 1973, 1975 and 1977 sessions, where it failed each time. It was put to voters as an advisory question on the 1978 ballot and failed by a 2-to-1 margin.

In 1979 and 1981, voice votes not to consider the resolution cut off any action after it was introduced. The ERA resolution was introduced in the 2015 Legislature but died in committee.

Contact Sean Whaley at swhaley@reviewjournal.com or 775-461-3820. Follow @seanw801 on Twitter.