This time last year, I was completely overwhelmed by the most incredible and important thing I've ever been a part of. I was spending countless hours at the Texas Capitol, rallying for the reproductive rights of women in my state. I testified, I shouted, I marched, I danced, I cried, I hugged, I tweeted, and I sang. I broke the heels on my cowboy boots and lost my voice screaming the words to "The Eyes of Texas Are Upon You."
I got to know who represents me and my values in the state of Texas, and who actively works to deny my rights and silence my voice. Representative Jessica Farrar, Representative Senfronia Thompson, Representative Dawnna Dukes, Representative Donna Howard, Representative Mary Gonzales, Senator Wendy Davis, and Senator Leticia Van de Putte are a few of the names I will continue to vote for in Texas for as long as they are on the ballot because of what I saw in the senate gallery last summer.
You see, Van de Putte was faced with the loss of her father due to a tragic car accident, just days before the filibuster. She left Austin to be with her family at her father's funeral on the day of the filibuster, and was told that the vote would go on whether or not she was present, in an attempt to push through the bill. Knowing what her father would want her to do, Van de Putte was inspired to return to the Capitol to make sure she was there to fight for her constituents. She arrived in the evening, after hours of Davis speaking on the gallery floor. There was confusion and chaos between senators, as Davis had received her third point of order. At 11:48 pm, Van de Putte spoke one of the most important and resounding messages of the whole experience: "At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over the male colleagues in the room?"
I sat in a room with hundreds of women and men from all over the state, including my best friends--both new and old--and my mom. I think it's safe to speak for all of us when I say that we felt like cans of coke that had been shaken up over the course of several weeks, and at that moment, we all started to expel our contents at full force. And it just kept coming, as we filled the rotunda, preparing to shout and chant and stomp and dance and cry and laugh and stop the vote from happening. Van de Putte's quote was the catalyst we needed to be able to get through the rest of the night, to do our part like she did hers.
Senator Van de Putte is a catalyst for change, and that's why I am so supportive of her campaign for Lt. Governor of my state, my home. She's literally willing to go the extra mile...miles really--Texas is a big state--to make sure that the voices of her constituents are heard and that no one is left out.
I know that many of you don't live in Texas, and for you, this is just a passionate story about Texas politics. But for my friends and readers who do live in Texas, this is a passionate reminder of the power you have to put the right people in power in your state. The people who believe in your voice and will go the extra miles to make sure you're heard.
Read more about my time at the Capitol here, here, and here.