Empower women to #PressforProgress
Each day I turn on the news and I hear someone say something I don’t want my young sons to hear. Recently, I was making our youngest son’s school lunch as we were going about our morning routine with the kitchen TV playing the news, as we often do, so we can all be aware of national and world events. My son, who is now 15 years old, was eating his breakfast when I heard Roy Moore speaking about dating 13-year-olds only with the consent of their parents. I wanted to cover my son’s ears. This morning, the news has turned to our President’s lawyer paying off a porn star. As parents, we try to protect what our children hear. It’s unfortunate that much of what I want to protect them from comes from the mouths of elected officials.
My kids are older now so the work we have done as a family instilling values like respect for women, regardless of race, gender identity, sexuality or familial status will remain untarnished in these difficult times when the media, local and national politicians attempt to undermine this on a daily basis both in the run-up to the November 2016 election and since.
But it is worse than that. As an elected official in the State House of New Hampshire each week we hear and vote on bills in committee and in session that are just mean-spirited attacks. Many are national efforts or “model bills” that come from out of state organizations like ALEC and are heavily backed by lobbyists.
I’ve been exposing lobbyists and other special interests who try to undermine policy-making efforts in the House to protect public health and to extend and expand rights to the people. A bill I co-sponsored, House Bill HB1557, if passed, would have put cameras in all hearing rooms so that the people know what their elected officials and others are saying. The bill was heavily attacked, even before it became public, by the former Speaker, the Head of House Finance and others who don’t want voters to know what they say and do in the House. It was voted inexpedient to legislate, which “killed” the bill.
Women are particularly the focus of legislative attacks in the New Hampshire House. For example, last week a bill that would have made a woman liable for the death of an 8-week-old fetus was brought to the House floor with a recommendation from the committee to pass the bill. Thankfully, this bill was killed on the floor by the valiant efforts of Representative Dan Eaton who immediately moved to table the bill and it is effectively dead. Another bill that would have created a registry of ultra-sensitive information about abortions was killed after I worked with conservative members of the House to raise issues about privacy and spending for a registry to study a problem that doesn’t exist. But, like the game Whack-A-Mole, there are many more bills to be dealt with in the upcoming weeks that threaten women’s access to reproductive healthcare.
Senate Bill 66 is an example last session that was signed into law by Governor Chris Sununu after both the House and Senate passed the bill. I lead a petition effort to try to convince the Governor not to sign it. The bill made fetuses viable at 20 weeks. Voters should look at how their House and Senate representatives voted on this bill and remember it when you go to the polls in November.
New Hampshire is a microcosm of what is going on in national politics. The President made special exceptions for Rob Porter letting him handle classified information. He could not get a security clearance due to domestic violence charges stemming from battering two women. Think about that — the President made special exceptions for a batterer.
The Vice President just this week claimed that days of legal abortions will “end in our time.” We cannot go back to the days depicted in The Cider House Rules by Exeter, New Hampshire born author and screenwriter, John Irving, where women died in back alleys and on kitchen tables.
But yesterday, the House erupted in cheers as we all realized HB1319 bill passed the House — not just passed — but by a wide margin of 195 to 129. This bill extends rights to transgender individuals. We had to sit through some sickening, nauseating testimony but I really feel that yesterday was about a revolt for common decency, fairness and proves that the people have the power. This proves that we are strong and when the people work together, we can make good things happen. I am proud to be a co-sponsor of this bill that will change the face of New Hampshire in the history books.
We are going backward. We need candidates who are bold and bravely take steps to fight back against these changes since we are stuck with this President until 2020. It’s not good enough to elect any old candidate because they are a democrat or a republican. We need fighters elected — right now.
This year it’s not just about celebrating. #MeToo started a national conversation. Now it’s time to turn that momentum into real change. We must empower women to run for office because we truly believe women in power will make the real changes needed to save our world. We have to put our money where it’s most needed — not on the military industrial complex or tax breaks for the 1% and corporations — instead to develop technologies and policies needed to address climate change, toxins in our environment, the opioid crisis, gender pay equity and many other difficult challenges. Join me to empower women to #PressforProgress in 2018.