Emily Niehaus and Mary McGann sign a resolution in support of the Equal Rights Amendment. [Moab Sun News photo]

Citizens filled every seat and spilled into the hallway at the Grand County Council chambers on Feb. 18, marking the 150th anniversary of the first vote cast by a woman in the country by signing a resolution urging the State of Utah to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. 

At a joint meeting of the Grand County Council, the Moab City Council and the Castle Valley Town Council, council members were met with applause as they read the resolution in support of the proposed constitutional amendment, which affirms citizens’ equal rights regardless of sex.

In January, Utah State Rep. Karen Kwan has introduced a joint resolution in the State Legislature, opening the door for the state to become the 39th state to sign on. Virginian became the 38th and last state required to pass the ERA before it can be added to the United States Constitution in January of this year.

Moab Mayor Emily Niehaus and Grand County Council Chair Mary McGann both dressed as suffragettes in honor of the occasion, recognizing the long history for women’s rights in Utah and the nation. McGann remarked that she had supported the ERA in 1972, when it passed both the U.S. House and Senate before waiting to be adopted by the states.

“I’m very excited that in my lifetime, it looks like it’s going to happen this year,” said McGann.

Niehaus paid tribute to local women involved in politics and local government and Moab resident Jessica O’Leary was honored for her work in bringing attention to the issue.

A January poll by Utahpolicy.com and Y2Analytics found widespread support for the ERA in Utah, with over 70% of residents favoring the state ratifying the amendment.