Mick Jagger joins the ERA debate

General Assembly would welcome Rolling Stones' singer as a lobbyist

 ERA backers have recently benefitted from the support of none other than Mick Jagger. (Facebook/Rolling Stones)

ERA backers have recently benefitted from the support of none other than Mick Jagger. (Facebook/Rolling Stones)

By Mark Guarino

An endorsement by the Rolling Stones’ lead singer Mick Jagger is not only exciting headline writers (“Jagger wants to get satisfaction from Illinois," according to the Chicago Sun-Times), but it is lending momentum to a movement that aims to finally make the Equal Rights Amendment law.

Last week Jagger posted to Instagram a plea for Illinois lawmakers to “vote yes” on the amendment. “I have three daughters who are U.S. citizens and they should all deserve equal rights under the Constitution of the United States,” he wrote.

The message was shared by Elizabeth Jagger, his daughter, who is an advocate for getting states to ratify the amendment so that it becomes part of the U.S. Constitution. She was in Springfield to spearhead a rally in support of the movement. If approved, the amendment will say that rights should not be denied on account of sex.

The activism last week coincided with the House Human Services Committee voting to approve the amendment, which sends it to the House for a vote. That final vote has yet to be scheduled. Last month, it passed the Illinois Senate, 43-12.

Congress passed the ERA in October 1972 with bipartisan support, but two years later only 35 of the 38 states needed had approved it in their respective legislatures. In the upper Midwest, the amendment originally had the support of Iowa, Wisconsin, and Indiana, but not Illinois. The deadline to approve was extended from March 1979 to June 1982, but four states rescinded their original approval.

Today, 36 states have approved the ERA, with two more needed for ratification. Because the deadline has passed, however, it is unclear what congressional action would result if that number is reached, but that hasn't deterred Illinois supporters from pursuing belated passage.

Opposition to the amendment continues to focus on abortion, saying that it would make the procedure more difficult to regulate because it is specific to women. Former Republican gubernatorial candidate state Rep. Jeanne Ives said last week that the amendment would take away special privileges for women.

“There would be no distinction between sexes at all, there would be no breastfeeding rooms. … All of that would be negated,” she said. “It would literally say there is no distinction or difference between the sexes, which is absolutely ridiculous and unscientific.”

Talk about an argument being reduced to the absurd.

To date, Gov. Bruce Rauner, a Republican, has not gotten into the debate. In a statement, his office has said that he “supports equal rights for everyone,” but he has not elaborated on that when asked about the issue in interviews. A risk the governor faces is appearing weak to the conservative wing of his party, which Ives represented in the too-close-for-his-comfort March primary. To everyone else, he risks being seen as adverse to the #MeToo movement, which has touched all areas of society, including Springfield. (See this week's story on state Rep. Kelly Cassidy and House Speaker Michael Madigan.)

Claire Shingler, the executive director of Women’s March Chicago, said in a statement that the ERA movement is directly connected to the street marches and social-media campaigns that have helped raise awareness about workplace harassment and other issues central to women.

“When we host an action, every age group is represented from the tiniest of infants to their great-grandmothers. The common thread within our community is that we all believe that women deserve equality,” she said.

Regarding support from the elder Jagger, some Springfield lawmakers say that they would welcome his presence on the House floor when it comes time for a vote. And if the co-writer of  “Stupid Girl,” “Under My Thumb,” and many other less-than-woke songs about the battle of the sexes can come around, doesn’t that give hope for all unrepentant sexists?

“I’d be happy to walk him around the Capitol,” Cassidy told the Chicago Sun-Times. “There are some people who could use some convincing.”