Female 2

Strong women in the news

This morning I’d like to celebrate some feisty women who demonstrate that despite the efforts of society to demean or silence them, they are not caving in or giving up or sitting quietly.

Most of us probably heard about Texas State Senator Wendy Davis, who filibustered the abortion proposal until it was too late for the Senate to pass it. They tried a slight-of-hand to alter the vote time after the fact, but were caught by all of the viewers who watched it live. Governor Goodhair called another special session. Why Wendy Davis’s Filibuster Matters

On Monday, the Texas State House voted overwhelmingly to pass a draconian proposal that would ban all abortions after 20 weeks, as well as adding stringent new restrictions on how clinics get licensed. The intent was clear: Supporters of the bill, known as SB 5, openly acknowledged that the law would have closed 37 of the state’s 42 clinics, leaving hundreds of thousands of women in Texas and neighboring states like Oklahoma with no way to access abortion care. With a conservative majority in the State Senate and the support of Governor Rick Perry, the measure seemed certain to become law.

But on Tuesday, Democratic State Senator Wendy Davis, backed by an army of feminist supporters, launched an epic 13-hour filibuster and shut the whole thing down.

You had to be under a rock this week to miss the fact that California’s Prop. 8 and DOMA were all over the news, and some strong women were front and center. In the Prop. 8 case (Hollingsworth v. Perry), the four plaintiffs — two women (Kris Perry and Sandy Stier), and two men (Jeff Zarrillo and Paul Katami) — challenged the law barring same-sex couples from marrying in California. Judge Vaughn Walker’s original injunction against enforcing Prop. 8 reads: “Defendants in their official capacities, and all persons under the control or supervision of defendants, are permanently enjoined from applying or enforcing Article I, § 7.5 of the California Constitution.” (Section 7.5 is Proposition 8, which provides: “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”)

Marty Lederman at SCOTUSblog has an informative post about what the ruling meant, and the future of same-sex marriage in California.

In the DOMA case (United States v. Windsor) Edith Windsor and Thea Spyer, a same-sex couple residing in New York, were lawfully married in Ontario, Canada, in 2007. Thea Spyer died in 2009, leaving her entire estate to Ms. Windsor, who sought to claim the federal estate tax exemption for surviving spouses. Section 3 of DOMA prevented her from claiming the exemption, because according to DOMA the term “spouse” only applies to a marriage between a man and woman. The IRS found that the spousal exemption did not apply to same-sex marriages, denied Windsor’s claim, and compelled her to pay $363,053 in estate taxes. On Wednesday, the Court found Section 3 of DOMA to be unconstitutional “as a deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment.” I wonder if Ms. Windsor will get a tax refund?

Finally there is Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq War veteran who served as a U.S. Army helicopter pilot and suffered severe combat wounds, losing both of her legs and damaging her right arm. Duckworth was the first female double amputee from the war, and grilled Braulio Castillo, who cited a foot injury suffered at a military prep school as the basis for his company’s application for special status as a “service-disabled veteran-owned small business.” The application was granted, and his company, Strong Castle, was given preferential treatment in federal contract bids.

As you can see from the video, Tammy Duckworth smilingly and politely tore this phony baloney a new one. Even Darrell Issa had to admit it was “worth the time.”

My “one more thing” this week is a big shout-out to all of the brave women we’ve seen standing up and taking it on the firing line!