Late last year, my mother Susan Catania—former Illinois state legislator, a relentless advocate for the ERA and a fearless champion of critical but politically unpopular causes—died.
Beholden to no one and with nothing to lose, she was known for her willingness to take unpopular stances. She introduced gay rights legislation, championed gun control and was the first Illinois legislator to sponsor the Freedom of Information Act. She passed income tax reform, a compensation plan for crime victims and legislation that led Illinois to become the first state to designate a state holiday honoring Martin Luther King, Jr. More than 50 of her bills became law. But the fight that defined her career was the Equal Rights Amendment; she even became the ERA’s primary sponsor in Illinois.