The Pima County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 on Tuesday to approve a resolution supporting an effort in the Legislature to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment.
The resolution supports state Senate resolution 1001, ratifying a proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would guarantee equal rights regardless of sex.
Supervisor Sharon Bronson, whose District 3 covers parts of Green Valley, placed the item on the agenda. Supervisor Ally Miller supported the measure despite acknowledging the vote was mostly symbolic.
Supervisor Steve Christy, District 4, opposed the measure and opened the discussion by stating various news sources have universally accepted women's fortunes are tied to the labor market.
Christy also said headlines from The Wall Street Journal reported women outnumbered men in the workforce in December.
"So, obviously, there is absolutely zero discrimination being inflicted upon women in the workforce," Christy said. "The wording in the original Constitution seems pretty inclusive for all people."
The statement drew groans and laughter from other supervisors.
Chairman Richard Elías said there are laws aimed at addressing discrimination and that it's about time the ERA moves forward.
"I know my mother supported it, I know my wife supports it, I know my daughter supports it," he said. "And they explain to me every day how sometimes I say really stupid things. But I can see I'm not alone."
Miller said she agreed with Christy that the ERA's window to amend the Constitution had passed in 1982, and that there are a lot of women in the workforce. However, she said she disagreed that women receive equal treatment.
Christy said the ERA didn't have any traction "some 30 years ago," and he didn't see it gaining any at this point.
Similar efforts to force a ratification vote in the Arizona Legislature have fallen short each of the past three years when they failed to get enough Republicans on board.
Miller disagreed that the ERA didn't have traction at the time or that there isn't any now.
"This did, in fact, have traction," she said. "I believe it took 38 states to ratify, and they were what, one vote away?"
If ratified, Arizona would be the 38th and final state needed to make the constitutional change. But whether that would happen is open to debate.
The ERA was launched in March 1972, and by 1982 had 35 states supporting the amendment. In 2017, Nevada became the 36th, and in 2018, Illinois was number 37.
Opponents said the effort failed to meet a 1982 deadline for two-thirds ratification. Proponents of ERA said there are legal grounds to accept ratification after the deadline.