Celebrating women’s right to vote

The last few weeks have been fast and furious as we worked through hundreds of bills in our committees.  Thursday is the deadline to report Senate bills out of the Senate.  We ended reporting out more than 400 bills out of committee and have around 200 more to hear on the floor.   

 I have 22 bills this working their way through the process.  Three of them (SB 824, 899 & 996) are awaiting House consideration. 

Two others were amended in the House (SB 519 & 1039) last session and the Senate needs to vote on those. The others will be taken up this week in the Senate or will be dead for the year.

On Feb. 28th, the Senate celebrated a historic anniversary with the passage of Senate Resolution 13 recognizing the 100th anniversary of Oklahoma becoming the 33rd state to ratify the 19th Amendment to allow women the right to vote.  It sounds like a long time ago, but when you really think about it that is just a couple of generations ago. My grandmothers were born in an era when women couldn’t vote.  They lived through the suffrage movement. 

Women in the U.S. fought to have a say in their government long before the 19th Amendment was ratified. Nationally, they began fighting for suffrage in July of 1848.  Famous suffragists like Elizabeth Stanton and Lucretia Mott held a meeting in New York with more than 300 attendees.  Their dream wouldn’t come to pass for more than 70 years later but they never gave up.  They organized rallies and marches, were arrested, starved and beaten for fighting to have their voices heard.

In the 1870s, women began pressuring Congress to vote on what was known as the Susan B. Anthony Amendment, and that’s when the nation really began to take notice of the power of women.

In Oklahoma, women began fighting in the 1890s before Oklahoma was even a state. Women suffragist groups lobbied both in the Oklahoma and Indian Territories and at the 1906 constitutional convention in Guthrie.  Their efforts weren’t in vain, however, as the right for women to vote in school elections was included in Oklahoma’s constitution.  It was a small but important step.

 Kate Barnard is one of our state’s most famous suffragists. While men didn’t want women to vote in political races, her passion for children and social reforms at the constitutional convention won her widespread respect.  She was elected Commissioner of Charities and Corrections, becoming the first women in Oklahoma elected to statewide office, and one of the first nationwide.

Finally, in June 1919, Congress passed the 19th Amendment, which then required 36 states to approve it for it to be ratified or become law.

Oklahoma’s Legislature actually approved women’s suffrage two years earlier when the Oklahoma Legislature approved Senate Concurrent Resolution 5 in 1917.  The amendment to Oklahoma’s Constitution was approved by the citizens in 1918. Once Congress took action, Oklahoma became the 33rd state to pass the amendment.

Can you imagine having to fight for 70+ years for men to listen to your ideas on city, county, state and national government issues?  This past Tuesday was Super Tuesday, a day when parties select their top nominees for president.  Ladies, I hope you took the time to cast your vote.  Regardless of your party or beliefs, it’s important that we honor Kate Barnard and the hundreds of women who were willing to be beaten, starved, publicly ridiculed and jailed to be able to cast their vote in elections.

Life can be so hectic as a mother, wife, daughter, homemaker, businesswoman or wherever you are in life.  But never take for granted our privilege to vote.  Millions of women across the world still don’t have this right.  They are still beaten and killed just for wanting to share their thoughts and opinions. Let’s honor those who made it possible for us to vote as well as those still fighting by always voting whether its an election for school board, city council, county sheriff, state representatives, our congressmen or the President of the United State.  Every election is critical and will impact your life.  Be a part of the process and let your voice be heard!

 At the State Senate, I can be reached by writing to Senator Kim David, State Capitol, 2300 N. Lincoln Blvd. Room 421, Oklahoma City, OK 73105, emailing me at kim.david@oksenate.gov, or by calling (405) 521-5590 and speaking to my assistant Gayla Guinn.

MAKE IT COUNT OKLAHOMA! Census Day is April 1 and Oklahoma needs a full count. An undercount in the census of just 2 percent can cost the state $1.8 billion in lost federal money over the next 10 years. Fill out your census form, Oklahoma. Learn more at: www.2020census.gov.

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