VENICE — It seemed like a simple request, but in the end, the motion to approve did not even garner a second.
On Tuesday, Sarasota County commissioners, without a vote due to the lack of a second, turned down a request from state Rep. Margaret Good to adopt a resolution of support for the Equal Rights Amendment.
Good told commissioners that bills are pending in both the Florida House and Florida Senate that would make Florida the 38th and final state to support the amendment necessary for inclusion in the U.S. Constitution.
“It’s a statement of our shared values that we value women’s equality,” Good told commissioners.
Noting she had sponsored similar legislation during her years in state government, Commissioner Nancy Detert was pointed in her comment.
“Pigs are in our (state) Constitution, but women are not in our Constitution,” Detert said.
Commissioner Charles Hines noted that commissioners had received a “great deal” of phone calls and emails in opposition after the agenda was published on Thursday.
Detert acknowledged that but added that most of the emails she’d seen were from people who did not reside in the county.
Commissioners defended the lack of the vote after Detert’s motion to support the resolution died for the lack of a second.
“This is not what this board does,” Commissioner Mike Moran said. “We deal with water, sewers, bridges, roads and land uses. I’m not interested in wading into the waters on state or federal issues.”
Hines said he’d received “a lot of information on the unintended consequences” of the amendment.
He didn’t specify what those consequences were.
The vote would have been ceremonial, not unlike votes that praise local sports teams or acknowledging efforts of emergency workers.
The Equal Rights Amendment was passed by Congress in 1972 with a time limit of seven years for the necessary 38 states to sign on for ratification. By 1973, 30 states had signed on, but support then waned as opposition to the amendment grew.
By the 1979 deadline, 35 states had approved ratification — followed by two more states since then.
Good told commissioners a resolution is pending in Congress to extend the original 1979 deadline.
The city of Sarasota had earlier passed a resolution of support, and the Florida Legislature, which will begin meeting in January will take up the pending legislation during its session.