Wednesday, June 26, 2013

At the Texas Capital Fighting Against SB 5

Sorry I've been a bit MIA this past week- however, I cannot think of a better way to break my silence then to post about what I experienced last night. Last night, I was made all the more proud of Texas and being a Texas woman. Our legislature was attempting to pass a bill that was a basic attempt to nationalize women's bodies. It would essentially prohibit safe and legal abortions in Texas. Wendy Davis, a senator in the Texas Legislature, filibustered from 10 am until she was shut down around 11:30pm (for reasons that are a little too knit-picky to really be justified). Many of my friends were inside the Senate chamber, and I got to the capital around 9pm to do what I could. Inside the capital, the rotundas were filled. I was meeting one of my friends there, and we waited in line in the bottom rotunda. However, each of the three levels above us were visibly filled to the brim with people wearing orange and waiting to get in. (We wore orange to symbolize our stance against the bill- so they could know who we were!) We waited in line for about 30 minutes, and then the rush began. It was nothing violent, everything just became much more urgent. We could tell something was about to happen. A woman ran by us shouting "get to the second floor!" Looking for where to go, we found ourselves in the middle of the bottom level, inches away from Cecile Richards- daughter of Ann Richards and President of Planned Parenthood. Cecile acted as our ring leader and signaled to us to all start making as much noise as we could. Now I know that it was because Wendy Davis's filibuster was shut down. We cheered and chanted her name. We were signaled to stop our noise and then told that they were going to be clearing out the gallery. In a very protestor like fashion, we reacted by sitting down. We were very uninformed- relying on text updates, tweets, and the signals from our officials there with us to tell us what to do next. People began bringing in food and water that was donated simply by people tweeting out the need. The power of social media! Not too soon after, a woman came out of the chamber and warned us that they were locking the capital.

We were waiting quietly- I now know it was because Kurt Watson was trying to stall the voting... as long as we got to midnight without a vote we would have succeeded in stopping the bill. It was important that we didn't disrupt him, as this was largely helpful in our fight. Around 11:40 he, too, was shut down. This is where we sprung into action. There were masses of us in orange there at the capital and it was our time to be heard, literally. Simply put, if they could not hear each other inside the chamber, they could not vote. So, we all stood together began yelling and chanting and stomping and screaming and doing everything in our power to be heard. People from the second level of the rotunda would go press their ears up against the chamber doors and would then communicate down to Cecile what we needed to do. They were clearly signaling to keep up the noise and be LOUD. It was louder than any concert or football game I had ever been in. People who were watching from the live stream were texting me and tweeting me saying that the people inside the chamber were shocked and scared. They were at a stand still because of the ruckus we caused and literally could not take any action because of all the noise. We kept at it- yelling and yelling and yelling. The "signalers" on the second level ran back and forth from the doors of the chamber to us, holding out fingers of the moments left until midnight. The noise did not waiver for a moment, and at midnight we burst into a chorus of "The Eyes of Texas". Yet even still, we were confused as to what our effect had been. There was some word that the bill had passed- but others deemed that the vote hadn't been taken in time. Members of the Texas House were coming out and speaking, and a few chants would pick up in between speakers, but everyone was very confused. It was after midnight, but were we not successful? We now know that there was an attempt to aleter the time stamp on the vote to pass the bill- which quite simply is embarrassing and ridiculous- and it came out that the vote was not taken in time, and it died.

I am so proud that I was able to be there last night, standing and screaming with my fellow Texans. It was such a moving night, and I now have this sore throat to remember it by. I am in absolute awe of Wendy Davis. The stamina and courage she presented is something that is to be truly admired in Texas history. Although I could go on longer, I'll let the pictures do the talking. Here are a few videos and pictures I took last night:

^^Really. The capital was filled to the brim.^^

^^Wendy Davis maintained the filibuster for a majority of time by relaying touching stories from those who would have been or will be effected by the bill, and she needed the stories to keep on coming in!^^

^^Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, in action.^^

^^Cecile Richards welcoming representatives.^^

^^Video taken in the heart of the yelling. This does not do the sound justice at all.^^

I'll try to update this post with any more updates as they come along. I'm sure this fight is not yet through. 

UPDATE: If you've been following along, you know that Rick Perry has called a second special session to re-address the issues in SB 5. To show where you stand, you can start by adding your name here:

I'll post again if any more info comes along!

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