photo from Jezebel.com
At 11:41 pm Tuesday night, we were instructed to yell. For 19 minutes, the feminist army filling the Texas State Capitol screamed and chanted and clapped and stomped for our right to choose. No heavy metal concert played directly into headphones could have been as loud and ear-numbing as we were. We yelled so that the vote being taken inside the Senate gallery could not be heard by midnight, the sine die of the special session.
At 2 am, we still had no verdict on whether or not SB5 had passed. The remaining hundreds (out of the previous thousand+) sat on the floor of the Capitol building. My phone died and I wasn’t able to even keep up on Twitter, but everyone around me was texting with their loved ones at home who watched, with 200,000 others, the live stream of what remained in the Senate gallery after midnight. We saw photos from inside the gallery of documents where the time stamp had been changed from 12:03 to 11:59, as if the final vote on the bill had been at all legitimate. As if our voices hadn’t existed at all.
At about 2:15, Cecile Richards gathered us in the center of the Capitol floor to read a text from Senator Wendy Davis. “I love you all,” it began, “The Lieutenant Governor has agreed that SB5 is dead.” I was immediately brought to tears and hugged the feminist soldiers around me, with whom I’d fought so tirelessly.
But no one fought as tirelessly on June 25 as Senator Wendy Davis. By now, I’m sure you’ve all heard stories of her incredible heroism, so I’ll give you a bulleted list from my memory.
// Senator Wendy Davis took her place on the senate floor in orange tennis shoes.
// In order to continue the filibuster all night, she would not be allowed to drink, eat, use the bathroom, sit or learn for 13 hours.
// Evidently, she was also not allowed to put on a back brace, with the help of another senator, halfway through the proceedings.
// Senator Davis read testimonies from Thursday night, many of which went previously unheard when the Chair said we were repetitive and shut us down.
// She read them slowly, might I add. Yes, so the filibuster could last, but also so that the GOP members on the floor could hear every single word we had to say about why SB5 would literally endanger the women of Texas.
// Senator Davis had immense support from her team as they asked intelligent, crucial questions allowing Davis to make all of the information against the bill heard on the senate floor.
// Some of the opposing senators felt her answers weren’t “germane” and she was given two more warnings (along with the warning regarding the back brace), ending her filibuster sometime around 10 pm.
// While senators on both sides continued to argue whether or not the ending of the filibuster was even legitimate, Senator Davis continued to stand.
// Oh, and #StandWithWendy was trending worldwide.
It was Davis’ fierce determination that gave me and my fellow soldiers the strength we needed to stay and fight too. Together, the feminist army and the Democratic senators of Texas killed the bill. Together, we used our voices in ways the GOP didn’t even know women could. They may be saying that what we did was wrong in the eyes of Senate rule book, but what they were trying to pull was wrong in the eyes of the constitution and in the eyes of Texas (who are always upon you).
My time spent in the Capitol over the last several days was one of the greatest things I’ve ever been and could ever hope to be a part of. When I made my 24 b4 24 list, I included protesting at a rally with a really awesome sign. While I’d still like to do that, I know that it will pale in comparison to what I’ve just been a part of.
When I woke up today, I was so unsure if last night had even happened. Had Texas GOP legislators really tried to regulate my body in such a demeaning and dangerous way? Had Senator Davis really stood for 13 hours for my rights? Had Senator Van de Putte really left her father’s funeral to be at the Capitol with us, where she had to say “At what point does a female senator need to raise her voice or her hand to be recognized over the male colleagues in the room?” Had the GOP really tried to change the time stamp on the official vote, which 200,000 people watched live? Had Senator Davis really texted Cecile Richards that the bill was dead? Was the bill really dead?
For now, it is. However, the GOP has made it clear that they’ll do whatever it takes to have a second special session where they will undoubtedly try again to pass this disgusting bill. But we’ll be there.
In the meantime, I keep wondering if life will go back to normal. I mean, why wouldn’t it? But I don’t feel normal. I haven’t since last Thursday. Maybe I’m still in the middle of all this, but I also feel changed after participating in all of this on the front lines. After the stories I’ve heard, the people I’ve met, and the ridiculous acts of both the GOP and the feminist army, I don’t know that I’ll be able to look at the world the way I did before. I know now what people are capable of when they are pushed to their limits, when they’ve begun to fight. And I know that we’ve just begun.