On the third and final day of the 38 mile march for the ERA, Democrats in the Arizona Senate used a procedural maneuver to bypass the obstruction of Senate Judiciary Committee chairman “Fast Eddie” Farnsworth (R-Mesa), who blocked any discussion of ERA bills in his committee, by attempting to bring the ERA bill up for debate and a vote on the floor of the Senate.
Despite pledges of support from a handful of mythical moderate Republican women, the procedural maneuver failed on a party-line vote of 13-16 Wednesday when these mythical moderate Republican women betrayed ERA supporters and voted in lockstep with their party leadership, demonstrating once again that they cannot be believed or trusted to do the right thing. GOP tribalism ruled the day.
The Arizona Capitol Times reports, ERA measure debated in Senate, fails to advance:
Stymied by the traditional legislative process – GOP Sen. “Fast Eddie” Farnsworth of Mesa blocked a resolution to ratify the ERA from a hearing in his Senate Judiciary Committee – Democrats motioned Wednesday afternoon to suspend Senate rules and bring the resolution to an immediate vote on the Senate floor.
Even Republican senators who signaled their support to ratify the ERA voted against the procedural maneuver.
Sens. Kate Brophy McGee, R-Phoenix and Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita, R-Scottsdale, both co-sponsored the resolution in favor of the ERA, but voted against suspending the rules to bring the matter to a vote. Sen. Heather Carter, R-Cave Creek, also co-sponsored the resolution, but was not on the Senate floor for the vote.
Had the Arizona Senate supported the resolution, it still would’ve needed approval in the House of Representatives. But moving the resolution along would’ve put Arizona one step closer to being the crucial 38th state to ratify the ERA. Thirty-seven states have ratified the amendment to date and it would take one more to amend the U.S. Constitution, though lawmakers debated whether it’s too late to ratify.
Democratic senators argued that voting to ratify the amendment was something of a moral obligation on behalf of women in Arizona and throughout the country.
Sen. Andrea Dalessandro, D-Tucson, concisely summarized the arguments of her colleagues: “Women do not have equality in the United States.”
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After a heated debate that lasted nearly two hours, Bradley said the motion to suspend the rules, which essentially bucks the authority of GOP leaders, was not meant as a partisan blow. Instead, it was merely a sign that the minority party disagreed with Farnsworth’s decision to shelve the bill in his committee, Bradley said, and that Democrats sought a chance for debate.
“The irony is that what just happened in the last two hours was exactly what was being requested,” Bradley said. “The difference is that people on both sides of the issue who are sitting up in the gallery would have been permitted to speak.”
This was a subtle rebuke of the obstruction of “Fast Eddie” Farnsworth.
The Senate’s vote was met with disdain by ERA backers in the Senate gallery, who jeered GOP senators as “cowards” and shouted “shame” as the exited the chamber.
The Arizona Republic reports, Arizona Democrats fail to force vote on Equal Rights Amendment in state Senate:
Republicans in the state Legislature for the third year in a row refused to allow a vote on the ERA.
Democrats attempted to use a procedural move to bring an ERA resolution to a vote in the chamber, where the vote was expected to be a toss-up.
But the effort crumbled after mythical moderate Republicans, who’ve previously supported ERA ratification, voted against suspending Senate rules to allow a vote.
The crucial swing voters were Sens. Michelle Ugenti-Rita, R-Scottsdale; Kate Brophy McGee, R-Phoenix; and Tyler Pace, R-Mesa. Another GOP sponsor, Sen. Heather Carter, R-Cave Creek, was absent.
After nearly two hours of debate, the Senate voted 16-13, along party lines, to reject the move, likely killing any hope for ERA ratification this session.
Ugenti-Rita — the GOP’s new reigning Queen of Voter Suppression — who spoke at a pro-ERA rally in January, said the vote was about respecting process, not the substance of the amendment. She said she doesn’t support the idea of suspending rules to go around the chamber’s committee hearing process.
“That was not a vote on policy,” Ugenti-Rita said afterward. “That was a vote on a procedural motion.”
This is bullshit … “the ERA never received a hearing because Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman ‘Fast Eddie’ Farnsworth, R-Gilbert, refused to allow it. He also blocked it last year when he chaired the House Judiciary Committee.”
Lawmakers gave a series of emotional floor speeches, with Democrats declaring the ERA is necessary to level the pay gap for women and cement laws that ban sex-based discrimination.
“It could be the most significant vote that any of us ever take,” said Sen. Victoria Steele, D-Tucson. ‘Will you stand up for fairness and equality as a basic tenant of our society?”
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After Wednesday’s vote, some ERA supporters broke down in tears. A few shouted “cowards” and “shame” as they left the Senate gallery.
“Doctor Evil,” Arizona’s 31st (unelected) Senator, lobbyist Cathi Herrod, president of the Center for Arizona Policy, an influential conservative advocacy group at the Capitol, said ERA supporters also shouted “shame” at her and told her there’s a “special place in hell for me” as she left the building.
She said the incident showed “once again the incredible lack of civility shown on the part of the left.”
Remember that her organization pickets Planned Parenthood Centers and abortion clinics, and harasses women and staff, calling them “baby killers” and telling them that there is a “special place in hell” for them. Her organization was principally opposed to same-sex marriage, now the law, and continues to oppose LGBTQ rights and to promote “show me your papers to pee” legislation to discriminate against transgenders. So cry me a river about “lack of civility,” Doctor Evil. Actions speak louder than words.
Farnsworth clashed with about a dozen in the hallway outside. The women were ordered to leave the Senate by a security officer.
“That smirk on your face tells us everything we need to know about you,” one ERA supporter shouted as Farnsworth smiled. Another blurted “What the hell are you so afraid of?”
Farnsworth (right) argued on the Senate floor that the ERA is unnecessary because federal law prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex. He cited examples of how the ERA has been used, in states where it’s part of the state constitution, to argue against restrictions on abortion (… and there it is).
“It’s not OK to discriminate under the current law,” he said.
Farnsworth drew groans from some women in the crowd when he said he doesn’t apologize for saying the world is a better place because of women’s “softness” and “femininity.”
“Women are sacred,” he said. “I can’t imagine what a horrible world this would be if it was just made up of men.”
White male patriarchy in its rawest form.
Steele (right) said she was “incredibly disappointed” in the four Republicans who had backed the ERA. She wiped back tears as she spoke to supporters in the lobby, who wore white in tribute to suffragists from the early 1900s.
“We’ve never been this close in Arizona to ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment,” Steele said. “We’ve been on this path for 96 years. There’s no way we’re quitting now.”
But Republicans who could deliver a victory in the Senate show little enthusiasm to revisit the issue. That could mean the issue is dormant until at least next session.
Brophy McGee said she opposed the Democrats’ move because state law already prohibits sex-based discrimination, adding “I’m not going to roll the Senate president or my caucus over that bill.”
GOP tribalism always rules.
The vote was a stinging outcome for dozens of women who marched to the Capitol on Wednesday morning. They walked 38 miles over three days to try to persuade GOP lawmakers to allow a vote.
They began marching around 8:30 a.m. outside the Biltmore-area office of U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, Arizona’s first female senator. Many held “ERA YES” signs and cheered for honking cars.
Janelle Wood, founder of the Black Mothers Forum, said the ERA would guarantee equal pay for women — black women earn 65 cents on average for every dollar a man makes.
“The question I have is ‘Why the fear?” Wood asked the crowd. “Our goal as women is to unify and give greater weight to our right to receive the same pay as anyone who is expected to perform the same job.”
Wood lead the marchers to chant “Ratify, don’t deny!” before they walked down Camelback Road for the final 10 miles of their trek.
The women carried a 50-foot green banner with the ERA’s basic text: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”
It’s the same banner women’s rights advocated carried in 1978 during a historic march on Washington, D.C.
As Senator Edward Kennedy once famously said, “The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dream shall never die.”