* I asked Illinois Democratic Women for a response yesterday to my blog post from earlier in the day entitled “Women’s groups now say that new House Speaker must have supported the ERA, HB40 and the RHA.”
“Just yesterday,” I wrote, “the groups were demanding that a woman be elected Speaker.”
First, some background.
* On Sunday, Illinois Democratic Women, We Will, Vote Mama, She Votes and eventually numerous other groups issued this statement…
Open Letter to the House Democratic Caucus
We are writing today to strongly encourage the House Democratic Caucus to choose a woman as their new leader when they convene to vote for the Speaker of the House of the 102nd General Assembly. As statewide women’s organizations, we’ve watched with pride and gratification as the declared candidates to the current Speaker, Michael Madigan, have all come from the House Democratic Women’s Caucus, which in the past several years has taken the lead on legislation important to us such as the Clean Energy Jobs Act, Equal Rights Amendment Ratification, and Reproductive Health Act, as well as initiatives on minimum wage, education, and mental health.
While we appreciate the leadership the current Speaker has provided, we believe it is time for a change, and choosing a strong female leader is the change that is needed. We’ve also watched with some concern arguments that are being made that Speaker Madigan is the only one running who can hold the caucus together, pass important legislation, and help re-elect his members. This suggests that the female candidates that have announced do not share these same qualities. We do not believe that to be true. Further, we find that sexist school of thought to be one that has permeated the legislature in Springfield for decades. Changing that culture is another reason why it is important that a woman should be chosen to lead.
All the female candidates that have declared their intention to run for Speaker of the House have done so in an environment that has been hostile to a change in leadership; this alone gives credence to their courage and fortitude. Illinois is on the precipice of a great transition as we work to come out of a global pandemic and restore jobs to working families and revive an economy that has been ravaged by Covid-19. We recognize strong leadership is needed to meet these challenges and many pressing issues, especially the much-needed criminal justice reform being championed by the House Black Caucus. We believe that all the women who have announced their candidacy are up to this challenge and strongly urge the House Democratic caucus to elect one of them as their new Speaker.
* On Monday, many of the same groups sent out this statement…
With the news of Speaker Madigan suspending his campaign, our coalition recognizes that more candidates may join the race for Speaker of the House. It is our expectation as strong supporters of women’s rights, and especially women’s reproductive rights, that the next Speaker of the House from the Democratic caucus will have supported the ERA, HB40, and the RHA, and is planning to support the repeal of the Parental Notification Act. We cannot go backwards to protecting the rights of women and girls in Illinois.
* Today, Illinois Democratic Women, Illinois NOW, We Will and Vote Mama issued this statement…
We stand by our statement from Sunday. Democratic women in Illinois want to see leadership change in the Illinois House of Representatives that reflects our gender and our values. We urge House Democrats to elect a strong, woman leader as the Speaker of the House. We expect whoever that woman is, she will put together a diverse leadership team that reflects all Illinois Democrats.