Arizona’s GOP state senators block vote on ratifying the ERA, after spirited debate

With a gallery packed with supporters and foes, Sen. Jamescita Peshlakai, D-Tuba City, explains why she believes Arizona should ratify the Equal Rights Amendment./Howard Fischer / Capitol Media Services


By Howard Fischer | Capitol Media Services via Arizona Daily Star

A bid to force a vote on having Arizona ratify the Equal Rights Amendment faltered Wednesday when every Republican senator present refused to allow it.

The 16-13 vote against suspending the rules to permit a vote on ratifying the ERA came after even three Republicans who are cosponsors refused to side with the Democrats who sought an immediate vote; a fourth was absent. Their support would have provided the margin to require a vote.

One of them, Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita, R-Scottsdale, said afterwards she still supports the ERA.

But she said the motion by Senate Minority Leader David Bradley, D-Tucson, was to suspend the rules to force a vote. And Ugenti-Rita said she has to support her party when there is a vote on changing procedures.

For other Republicans, their votes to deny even debating the issue was strictly on philosophical and political lines.

Sen. Sylvia Allen, R-Snowflake, worried about the effects of a federal constitutional amendment that would say “equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of sex.”

“ ‘Sex’ has a lot of different definitions today than it did in the 1970s,” she said, when the amendment was first proposed. And that, said Allen, would lead to “unintended consequences.”


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