While nervously awaiting the rulings on The Defense of Marriage of Act (DOMA) and California’s Proposition 8 (which went in the direction they needed to go this morning!), another hugely important political moment was happening in Texas. The State Legislature was ending its special session and (insert descriptive terms of your choice here) Governor Rick Perry had snuck one of the most damaging reproduce rights’ bills (look halfway down the page at the information on SB-5) into the session. The bill had such draconian regulations in it that it would have shut down all but 5 of the 47 women’s clinics in the state.
Enter Wendy Davis, the amazing Democratic Senator from Fort Worth. Davis endured a solo THIRTEEN HOUR filibuster, in which she was not allowed to eat, drink, talk about anything other than the bill and its impact, leave the podium, sit down, or even lean on anything while she tried to run the clock down on the session in order to keep this bill from passing.
She took the floor at 11 a.m. and as the day and night went on, people realized something special was happening. The livestream coverage of this filibuster was riveting, during which time Republican Senators tried to shut her down three times (once for getting help from a male colleague in order to put on a back brace). And there were a plethora of amazing moments
You can look up Senator Davis’s whole story elsewhere, but here are the details I remember about her background: she was married and divorced young, and at the age of 19 was a single mother living in a trailer park. She started at her local community college and ended up at Harvard Law School. During one particularly moving part during her fillibuster yesterday, she talked about how Planned Parenthood was the only place she could afford to receive exams from when she was a single mother. And she found a way to thank them yesterday, by ensuring that they, and other clinics, would continue to stay open and be able to provide services to the many women who depend on them for their health care.
Davis was not alone in her filibuster. Supporters crowded the room, chanted from the rotunda, and her Democratic colleagues in the Senate helped her rest her voice and her mind by asking questions and, at one point, debating parliamentary procedure for nearly 2 hours when another Senator raised the third objection to her filibuster, which, had it passed, would have shut her down and allowed the vote to happen. It’s a reminder to all of us why the personal is political and I am in awe of Senator Davis, her supporters and colleagues, and all of the people around the world who made this important news.*
Edited to Add: Governor Perry has already called another special session, which starts July 1, in order to try and pass SB-5.
* Meanwhile, our mainstream news channels were reporting on things like blueberry muffins.