Feminism: Filibuster Retrospective (Part 3)

Previous Post: Filibuster Retrospective Part 2

This is a continuation of the filibuster retrospective post I started here. I was forced to break the post up into multiple postings because of the huge number of tweets involved (which was making the page LOAD-ANGRY on some browsers). This post starts at the 5:00 pm mark during the filibuster and covers the first sustained Point of Order (POO).

Tweets after the jump.

At five pm, Senator Davis moved from supporter stories (which were running short at the time), to speaking about her own history. In case you didn't already know, Wendy Davis is basically a Lifetime movie award in human flesh: she and her three siblings were raised in Texas by a single mom without child support. At the age of 14, Wendy got her first job selling subscriptions for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (or the Startle-Gram as the older folks used to call it 'round these parts). She married at 18, and was a divorced single teen mother living in a trailer park within a year of her marriage. Undaunted by this, Wendy learned about a paralegal program from a coworker, enrolled in Tarrant County College, transferred up to Texas Christian University on a full scholarship, graduated first in her class with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, became the first person in her family to graduate from college, and went on to earn her law degree with honors from Harvard Law School in May 1993.

In case you're not fluent in texan, all that up there? MAKES WENDY DAVIS A FUCKING PATRON SAINT. 

It also makes Wendy Davis 2700% more in tune with what Texas women and people with uteri want from their government when it comes to bills which are deliberately constructed to shut down 37 of the remaining 42 abortion providers in the state because most of those providers also provide free care for impoverished people and control over all aspects of their reproduction, not merely abortion. So a discussion of places like, for example, Planned Parenthood and what it provides to Texas residents is more than a little on-topic when discussing a bill which even its supporters acknowledge would most definitely shut down Planned Parenthood and similar health clinics.

And that was how the first POO was sustained against Senator Davis: she spoke about Planned Parenthood and all the services it provides to women BECAUSE this bill seeks to shut down Planned Parenthood and BECAUSE the places this bill seeks to shut down are germane to whether the bill is beneficial to Texas residents. And in speaking about Planned Parenthood, Senator Davis read (iiuc) a quote about the Planned Parenthood yearly budget and how the Texas budget would be affected if the government health clinics had to step in and absorb the care that PP is currently providing and Senator Robert Nichols (R) protested that "the budget" was not germane to discussion of the bill.

And Dewhurst sustained the point of order as a first strike against the filibuster.

It was at this point that Davis' Democratic allies started asking questions, even though the Republicans had previously threatened to use Point of Order objections to force Wendy Davis to stand alone without taking any questions or any kind of aid from her party. Nor was this an idle threat -- the next two major POOs raised (one deflected and one sustained) would be connected with these allies. First, Senator Kirk Watson (D) rose to "question" Senator Davis about some of the finer points of the bill and her awesome objections to it.

I want to say how incredible it was to see male allies stand with Wendy Davis and with all Texas women and people of uteri that night. I hope and believe that these men stood with Wendy because it was the right thing to do, because their allyship prompted them to do what was right rather than what was convenient. I hope and believe that these men weren't in this for the cookies, for the praise and attention of the people they were representing. But for whatever it is worth, I am truly grateful to these men for supporting both Wendy and us in our right to bodily autonomy, and I was several times in the night moved to grateful tears to see these real allies standing with Wendy.

During Senator Watson's question session, Senator Nichols popped up several times with more Point of Orders. Only one of them was sustained, but Senator Watson successfully argued that the POO should be sustained on him and not on Wendy, since he was the one who brought up the material which Dewhurst had ruled to be non-germane. Thus, Watson was able to throw himself onto the sustained POO and deflect it from affected Davis' filibuster.

At the same time, though, a warning had been issued to Davis and her allies that questions coming from allied Democrats on the floor would be subjected to a ridiculous level of scrutiny that was emphatically not used when hostile Republicans and pro-life Democrats were questioning her. Senator Watson made a point of this by immediately prefacing every single sentence with the words "as it pertains to this bill" or "to focus on SB5" or other such no-this-is-totes-germane language.

It was also at this time that another allied Democrat, Senator Rodney Ellis (D), stood to question Lt. Gov. Dewhurst about the "germane" calls he'd already made twice in the proceedings, both of which were highly questionable. Senator Ellis asked a number of questions in an attempt to try to nail down Dewhurst on what would and would not be considered germane for the filibuster. Dewhurst refused to give specific answers, and Ellis stole our hearts by switching to a folksy sarcasm which perfectly pointed out the incredible bullshittery coming from the Lt. Governor.

Senator Ellis sat down after Dewhurst refused to meaningfully answer his questions, and Senator Watson continued his questions to Senator Davis. When together they brought up the constitutionality of the bill and how previous bills had already been taken to court -- a costly process that wastes a tremendous amount of taxpayer money -- for being in direct opposition to the Supreme Court Roe v. Wade ruling, Senator Nichols popped up again with another POO complaint, saying that the constitutionality of the bill was not germane to the discussion of whether or not to vote for the bill. (!!)

Dewhurst called several of the senators, including Watson and Nichols, up to his podium for private discussion. But the rules of filibuster forbade Senator Davis from leaving the small bubble of space around her desk, so she was not able to come up with the others to argue her case or be privy to the private discussion. In an ironic and infuriating picture that would be repeated several times throughout the night, we saw a large number of male senators clustered around the podium while they discussed the fate of the single woman standing on her own in the middle of the floor. THIS. WAS. BULLSHIT. And is also this stupid, garbage, grody bill in a microcosm: powerful men deciding the lives of isolated women.


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