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Nevada Assembly approves Equal Rights Amendment

Updated March 20, 2017 - 5:20 pm

CARSON CITY — The Assembly on Monday voted to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, making Nevada the first state in 40 years to support the addition of the language to the U.S. Constitution.

The vote was 28 to 14, with all 27 Democrats and one Republican lawmaker in support.

Senate Joint Resolution 2 requires concurrence in the Senate on a couple of minor amendments before it is transmitted to the Nevada Secretary of State, leaders in Congress and to the archivist of the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, DC. Approval later this week will be routine, as the Senate passed the measure before the amendments on a 13-8 vote.

“Today what we’re doing is one of our most awesome responsibilities,” said Assemblyman James Ohrenschall, D-Las Vegas. “We’re proposing to amend the federal constitution. It’s a historic moment for us.”

Supporters say the ERA is as relevant today as ever, and they want two more states to approve ratification so Congress can take up the issue. Nevada is the 36th state to approve the resolution. The last state to approve the amendment was Indiana, in 1977.

Opponents call the amendment 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.

Critics also say the deadline for approval of the ERA expired in 1982. But supporters say Congress has the authority to determine if amendment is valid even though a deadline passes.

Assemblywoman Olivia Diaz, D-North Las Vegas, argued for support during the debate in the Assembly, saying women still don’t have equality, from less political representation to equal pay.

“That’s why we need the passage of this bill,” she said. “Because there are forces out there who want to stand in the way of progress.”

But Assemblywoman Robin Titus, R-Wellington, called the measure an example of “political theatrics” from Assembly Democrats. The role of women is settled in 2017, Titus added.

“I abhor any kind of discrimination,” she said.

Assemblyman Ira Hansen, R-Sparks, proposed an amendment to put the issue before the voters but it was rejected on a party-line vote.

While Gov. Brian Sandoval does not have to sign off on the resolution, he does support the proposal.

Several efforts to approve the ERA in Nevada in the 1970s and early 1980s all failed.

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

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