If you get your news from, well, major news outlets, chances are that you have no idea who Wendy Davis is. She is a state senator from Texas who, on Tuesday, spent thirteen hours filibustering a piece of anti-choice legislation. SB5 aims to not only ban abortion after twenty weeks of gestation, but to raise the requirements for clinics where abortions can be performed to such a level that the law would effectively shut down all but a handful of the state’s clinics.
Texas has over twenty-six million residents. This is a big deal for millions of American women. With a Republican majority in the Texas senate and Governor Yosemite Sam Rick Perry unlikely to veto any anti-choice measures, the only way to stop SB5 from being passed was with a filibuster.
Each state has its own specific regulations for its state legislature. On a federal level, filibusters can go wildly off-topic (we have all heard stories of entries from a phone book being read) and can even be performed without anyone actually standing and speaking. In Texas, filibustering means speaking on-topic without sitting, leaning against your podium, or taking a break.
So that is what Wendy Davis did. For thirteen hours. She received three “warnings,” being accused of going off-topic (in once case by discussing Roe v. Wade, because, you know, that’s so unrelated to a bill that restricts a woman’s right to choose?).
She was then prevented from filibustering further, but her allies in the senate then began asking questions on procedure and arguing against Wendy being silenced (to stall for time). When the questions failed, crowds of onlookers began chanting so loudly that the senate was unable to call a vote until after midnight (the deadline).
Now, just to clarify, this was not followed by major news outlets. But this was livestreamed. It was all over Twitter. If you don’t take Twitter news seriously, you should know that it’s not just for gossip or Arab Springs or hearing about earthquakes before everyone else. #StandWithWendy was trending, worldwide, above almost everything else.
While there are millions of wonderful, pro-equality, and tech-savvy baby-boomers in the world, this image best represents my thoughts on the livestream:
This is really, truly important. My dashboard on Tumblr is usually full of fandom images, funny images, and occasionally beautiful people in various stages of undress. Tonight, it was all about Wendy Davis, Texas, and the filibuster—from images or a few words of support to my friend’s wonderful thoughts on the filibuster and how people view Southern politics. Twitter was no different. It was beautiful.
We followed the filibuster, we followed the debate on procedures, we followed the protest as the senate Republicans desperately raced against time.
To the collective outrage of hundreds of thousands of people who were viewing this live (I listened to the livestream for hours, like a radio show, while doing other things), the senate “passed” SB5, though it was after midnight. Which is illegal. And they stamped the official time as 11:59. As some people phrased it, they “mansplained time to a clock.”
As if no one would notice.
It was only while I was already writing this post that the closed-door session announced that, despite their best efforts, they could not get away with “passing” SB5. Because, officially, they were determining if it had been passed, but they were actually determining whether or not they could get away with their time-altering shenanigans (time-travel irritates me in science fiction, so you can imagine that I was not delighted to see it used by politicians to break their own rules—rules that had been so important to them when a female senator was breaking them).
But SB5 failed. Thanks, in large part, to Wendy Davis.
The reaction of the crowd of Texans who had gathered was thunderous applause.
Guys, this was a great example. We’re all excited and nervous about today, when we’ll find out how the SCOTUS has ruled on issues of marriage equality. But it is important that we also remember that tonight was a victory for Texas women. Which means that it was a victory for people.
Finally, this post would not be complete without me adapting a Star Wars quote to this situation:
PS: It is 4AM and “Wendy” and “Texas” are both still trending. Worldwide.