If you know me, or read this blog, you know that I’m a cynic and misanthrope. You know that my views on the future are bleak.
You perhaps might also know that many times I have felt that the US is lost. I have said that I’m considering going expat. I hate the right-wing nature of this country. I hate the Republicans and Democrats. I hate our current government. And, normally, I feel as if the situation the US is currently in is the one it will forever be in. The US will forever be further to the right than the rest of the world. It will forever be a hotbed of religious fanaticism and political lunacy. And so I have seriously considered leaving, because I have, in the past, seen no other option.
Then it was June 25, 2013.
And I was proven wrong.
June 25, 2013, was a day that will live in history. One state, Texas, will be forever connected to this day, one political party, the Texas Democrats, will be forever attached to this day, and one name, Wendy Davis, will be in the history books on this day.
If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then where the hell have you been?
#SB5 outright outlaws abortion in Texas at or after 20 weeks post-fertilization. There is no exception for rape or incest victims, despite the efforts of Representative Senfronia Thompson (seen right).
#SB5 requires all abortion doctors to have hospital-admitting privileges within 30 miles of every clinic where they practice
#SB5 requires a woman to have to have two in-person visits with a doctor before she gets an abortion.
#SB5 requires every abortion provider to be licensed as an ambulatory surgery center. This requirement will costs providers about $1 million and will have to comply with 117 pages of regulation. It is expected that all but five clinics would be able to afford to stay open after complying with these regulations. It should be noted that this restriction is already in place for clinics in Texas that provide abortions past the 16 week mark. This law was passed during the 2003 legislative session, and significantly limited the access for women to have safe abortions.
And Texas was going to force this through despite the fact that it was blatantly illegal and unconstitutional, as it was in complete and total violation of Roe v Wade. So, to be fair, the US Supreme Court probably would not have let this law stand, anyways.
However, Texas women and Democrats and liberals decided that waiting on the US Supreme Court just wasn’t good enough. They chose senator Wendy Davis, first elected in 2008, then again in 2012, to represent Texas District 10.
As a young child, Wendy Davis was raised by a single mother, and at the age of 14 was forced to work to help support her family. She became a single mother herself at the age 19. She heard about two-year paralegal course form a co-worker and decided to enroll at Tarrant County College before transferring to Texas Christian University, where she graduated at the top of her class. She then went to Harvard Law School where she received her law degree with top honors. She became the first member of her family to graduate from college. She created, and still has, a career as a specialized litigation lawyer, dealing with governmental affairs, real estate matters, contract compliance, and economic development.
She first won election in 1999 into the Fort Worth city council. She was then reelected in 2001, 2003, 2005, and 2007. Then, as stated, she became the representative of District 10 on the Texas Senate in 2008, and remains there to this day. During her time there, she has won the “Bold Woman Award” from Girls, Inc, “Freshman of the Year” from AARP, “Champion for Children Award” from teh Equity Center, and “Texas Women’s Health Champion Award” from the Texas Association of OB-GYNs. Texas Monthly named her “Rookie of the Year” in 2009, and she was chosen “Best Servant of the People” by the readers of Fort Worth Weekly. Governing Magazine also listed her as one of the “12 State Legislators to Watch in 2012”.
In 2011, Wendy Davis launched a filibuster of a budget bill that cut $4 billion from Texas public education. Her filibuster forced Rick Perry to call a special session to get it passed.
Can members filibuster legislation?
In Texas, a filibuster is allowed only in the Senate. A filibuster occurs when one senator holds the floor through talking or long speeches, without sitting down or leaving the vicinity of the senator’s desk. Although the primary purpose of a filibuster is usually to kill a bill, sometimes this is also done to reach a compromise or to delay a vote as long as possible. The filibuster must be on topic; the bill may be read but irrelevant books (i.e. a telephone book) may not be read.Are there any rules for a filibuster?Filibusters are governed by the Senate rules and by precedents interpreting the rules.Rule 3.02 prohibits eating or drinking in the Senate chamber.Rule 4.01 requires a member of the Senate to stand at his or her desk to address the Senate. The member speaking may not sit, lean, or use a desk or chair in any way. Bathroom breaks are not allowed.Rule 4.03, which governs the interruption of a member who is speaking, allows other senators to raise objections if a speaker does not confine his or her remarks to the issue under consideration or if his or her voice is inaudible.
So it is only as a last resort does anyone filibuster in Texas. And on June 25, 2013, that is what Senator Wendy Davis did again. For an attempted 13 hours.
I am ashamed to admit that I missed Wendy’s filibuster. I was unable to find enough time to actually watch the livestream until 11:30 pm EST. This means I joined not long after the Texas Republicans had shut Wendy down.
She started at 11:18 am CDT (12:18 pm EST) and was halted at 10:03 pm CDT (11:03 pm EST) due to what I personally feel was a completely lie.
Before I go into that, click here to watch 5 great highlights from her epic filibuster.
And now, the lies:
Senator Wendy Davis was found to violate the rules of the filibuster three times. The first time was when she supposedly made a mistake. As I missed her speech, I sadly did not get to hear this mistake, but I doubt, like the other two, it was legitimate.
The second time was when, during a short senate break, Wendy received help from a colleague to put on a back brace.
Really? These Republicans would try to break a filibuster if the senator in question had diabetes and needed help with an insulin shot, wouldn’t they?
The third time, which happened right before I finally started watching, was when Wendy brought up a previous sonogram bill. The stopping of her filibuster on this sparked a very heated debate. Austin Democratic Sen. Kirk Watson very nearly launched his own filibuster of the decision to end Wendy’s filibuster!
The climax was reached, however, when this happened:
The response from the gallery, both the hundreds inside the room and the hundreds outside… including clapping and cheering and yells and hoots and hollars and jeering and more… lasted the final 15 minutes, pushing the session past midnight, ending any potentialities for a vote…
Except Texas Republicans were having none of it. At 12:03 am CDT (1:03 am EST) on June 26, 2013, they attempted to vote anyways, then change the record on the vote to make it look like it occurred on June 25. But with hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people from all over the country watching, they were unable to get away with, and at around 2:15 am CDT (3:15 am EST), it was officially announced that the bill was dead.
On one group I belong to, I was forced to admit that, for all these years, I was wrong about Texas. I had always been one who supported Texas’s secession. I always wanted Texas to just go the fuck away. Of course I knew that Texas was full of great people, but until yesterday, I had no idea how ignorant I really was. I learned that Texas was worth defending, because it isn’t just full of great people; it’s full of powerful, wonderful, loud, and stunning voices.
I thought it couldn’t get any better.
And then I learned that California’s Prop 8 and the US’s DOMA were both declared unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court.
I learned a lesson today. I learned that maybe… just maybe… it is possible to take the US back from the fascists.
I may not have witnessed the best of it, but this really did happen in Texas.
In fucking Texas. If Texas democrats and liberals, a minority in that state, can not just block, but destroy a conservative machine, then maybe we can do it all over the US.
Texas started something. A sea-change in my own thinking has occurred. For the first time in my life I am actually optimistic about what can happen in my country. For the first time I really do believe that maybe the US is really worth fighting for.
So, to Senator Wendy Davis and and every Texan who fought against this bill, thank you. Thank you for forcing me to see a ray of hope. Thank you for forcing me to see that fighting for change really is worth it.
And to everyone, I am sorry. I am sorry that I’ve always been so bleak and cynical. I am sorry that I misjudged Texas and the US. I am sorry for being oh so very wrong.
What happened yesterday and today was nothing short of incredible, and I learned so much from it.
Senator Wendy Davis is a hero. All of those Texas women, and men, who stood up with her are heroes. Those who strove to destroy DOMA and Prop 8 are heroes. There can be and are more heroes made every single day.
And the US’s future is not so bleak after all.