Last night in
Austin, the House State Affairs Committee heard testimony for and against HB2 (including testimony from this very blog. Thanks so much, Kate!). This is the brand-new bill introduced to replace SB5 – you remember that one, right?
The one that was killed twice after
its predecessor-bills failed to make it into law during the regular session.
Some bills just can't take a hint, can they? Wendy Davis: BadassExtraordinaire, killed it the first time, with help from her posse of Democratic senators, plus a vociferous group of supporters. The second time,
it was killed by eagle-eyed reporters on Twitter who caught Senate Republicans
trying to alter the timestamp of the vote.
determined to smash their legislation through, no matter what their
constituents want, the Republican leadership called for a second special
session and that lead us to last night.
people signed up to testify. There were voices from both sides of the argument.
There were voices from The Land Of WTF
(ex: "we know that humans don't gestate donkey fetuses" Yes. Thank
you, sir.). There were voices lined up for hours and hours waiting their turn.
But the only voice that seems to have had any sway is that of Representative Byron
Cook, committee chair. He repeatedly spoke over his colleagues, refused to
admonish outbursts from the crowd when those outbursts were in support of
pro-life testimony (yet quickly and fiercely threatened to remove people who
dared to clap or cheer in support of pro-choice testimony), mysteriously was
able to finagle an unrepresentative percentage of for-the-bill testimony,
refused to allow testimony from the over 1,000 people still in line to speak,
and THEN called for a vote on the bill after he said he would not call for a vote, thus disallowing
Representative Sylvester Turner to add his planned amendments.
The vote was
called, the police were brought in, the rooms were cleared. The bill goes to
the House floor.
But I want to
grab you all by the shoulders and plant tiny kisses on your cheeks and plead
with you to not be discouraged. Turn that frown upside
down, y'all. Look at what we've done! LOOK! We have these zealots on their
heels. We can see the whites of their eyes. They are pulling out every tool
they have to cheat and manipulate their way to getting this bill passed. They are even pissing off their fellow party members. And let's be perfectly honest –
this bill will likely be passed and then signed into law. There will be great
legal battles. But don't let that get you down. YOU MUST NOT LET IT SILENCE
YOU. Maybe it won't get signed into law. Maybe we will succeed again in killing
it. But if we don't… if the Crazy Zombie Abortion Bill From Hell reanimates
itself, do not let it melt your brain and crush your soul.
at what we've done. Wendy Davis has galvanized Texas progressives. Were you
aware of how many badass Democrats hold state office in Texas?
I wasn't. I had no idea that Sylvester Turner was so eloquent and passionate
and fiery. I had never before heard Jessica Farrar lambaste another Representative. And Kirk
Watson? Leticia Van de Putte? Be
still my heart.
Why wasn't I
fully aware of this badassery? I can think of a couple of reasons. The first is
the most obvious: like most progressives in Texas, I was willing to shake my
head, sigh deeply, and know that my voice would never be loud enough to be
truly heard in this state. Not under the realm of Rick Perry. Not under the
thumb of such total Republican control. I was just happy to live in Austin, on
a blue island surrounded by a red sea. It takes a lot of energy to fight
against those red currents, and while celebrating the likes of Julian Castro as
he wows Democrats on a national stage, when it comes to state politics the
weight of it all is sometimes just too much.
reason for my lack of badassery awareness is that maybe our Texas
state Democrat badasses have
been keeping their badassery under cover. Sure there have been
moments of shining indignation, but nothing, nothing like this… not since a
handful of state Democrats fled to Oklahoma in 2003 to protest redistricting
gives? Why now? Is this legislation finally just too much? Or is it that our
state Democrats have seen our energy and heard our voices. Now they know we
we're really out
here, just like we've seen their energy
and heard their voices
and now we know they're really out there. Thank you, Rick
Perry, for pissing us off to such an extent that Texas Democrats have
awoken from our dejected Rip Van Winkle slumber to kick some ass and take some
Maybe we were
all just exhausted and beaten down and in exactly the place the Republicans
wanted us to be – grouchy, quiet, shaking our tiny fists here and there, but
unable to muster any power.
Even if this
legislation passes, we cannot lose this momentum. We cannot lose the energy and
the power and the galvanization we've experienced over the past few weeks.
don't let last night get you down. And whatever shenanigans occur in the next
few weeks, don't get angry, get mobilized. Take your indignation and your anger and your fear and use
it for good. Think about upcoming elections. We need to be brainstorming ways to get these people out of office. When everyone begins to realize that reasonable people outnumber crazy zealots, the tide will have to change. Don't let our momentum stall by getting tired and angry. People like Byron Cook and Rick Perry and David Dewhurst WANT you to get
tired and angry. That makes it so much easier for them, doesn't it? We can't
make it easier for them. We can't.
down. Keep your voices loud and clear. Because even if Texas Republicans want
you to think your voice will not be heard, there are people listening across the state and across the country.
When you start to feel beaten down, tell yourself that.
People are listening, and they're ready for a change.