The Illinois House yesterday defeated the Equal Rights Amendment for the second time in two weeks, this time by two votes.
Although the measure was put on postponed consideration, which means it could technically be voted on again before the legislature recesses for the spring term next week, the chances for calling it up agains looked dim. The amendment has been the subject of repeated votes in the Illinois Legislature for six years.
The amendment would ban discrimination according to sex.
The measure lost after three hours of emotional debate marked by no arguments that the legislators had not heard before.
ERA proponents held up the final announcement of the tally by almost 10 minutes while they carried on final lobbying attempts on the floor to try to swing the last key votes.
The measure needed a three-fifths vote to pass, or 107 aye votes. The final tally was 105 to 71, with one person absent.
Both powerful House Majority Leader Michael Madigan and the chief sponsor of ERA, Corneal Davis, said that they would not call the measure up in the House again this session, which ends next Friday.
Madigan said the vote was made yesterday, after delaying the call Wednesday, because "there wouldn't have been any more votes for ERA in the House later in the session than there were today."
Immediately after the vote, Madigan said he was recommending that ERA supporters shift their attention to the senate for the remainder of the session. The senate, considered the more conservative chamber, voted the amendment down in 1976. Both chambers, in the last six years, have approved ERA, but never both houses in the same session, which is required for approval.
In order to become an amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the measure must be approved by 38 states by March 1979. Thirty-five have presently satified it, but Illinois was considered a key state by both supporters and opponents because it is the only northern industrial state not to ratify.
The roll-call vote and the debate that preceded it were marked by raucous, partisan arm-waving and shouting and name-calling, including one Republican calling the speaker of the assembly a "sell-out." By the time the final tally was called, virtually no one was seated.
On June 7, when ERA proponents last brought the amendment up, clearly thinking that they had the votes, they were stunned when five black Chicago-area legislators who had been considered supporters of the measure refused to vote because of an internal leadership quarrel not directly related to the amendment.
Throughout the fight of the last several weeks, anti-ERA Republicans have been subject to stepped-up lobbying by Republican Gov. Jim Thompson, an early supporter of the ERA. He has called individual lawmakers into his office for private sessions in an attempt to change their votes showed three Republicans who had voted yes a year ago now voting no.