The following is an approximate transcript of the remarks made by state Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth) at Monday’s Stand With Texas Women rally at the Texas capitol building, which was organized to fight anti-choice legislation being considered in the Texas legislature’s second special session of the year. (These remarks, as prepared for delivery, may deviate slightly from her actual remarks.)
Thank you. You are all wonderful and I am so glad you all are here and we can be together at YOUR Capitol. I have heard many kind words in these recent days and I am humbled and grateful. But the truth is: you all have given me and so many others a renewed sense of strength.
Less than a week ago you were at the crux of a turning point in Texas history. You joined the ranks of brave men and women who love this state and fought for their liberties and preserving Texas values.
It was your voices—lent to me—that made it possible for me to stand those 13 hours. The last two of those hours, my brilliant, passionate, eloquent Democratic senate colleagues took over. Each was extraordinary.
But even they couldn’t get us over the finish line. With only 20 minutes left on the clock, you, after having suffered quietly and patiently the repeated abandonment of the Senate rules and traditions, could be silent no longer, your voices joined together, roaring through what we all understood was a raw abuse of power, to secure a victory.
How fitting that it was the “people’s filibuster” that stopped SB5 and put the politicians currently in power on notice.
Texans expect honesty and respect from their elected officials and they will take back their power when disrespected and misused. It’s your strength, your courage, your conviction that causes me to say today—I Believe in Texas More than Ever.
Texas is the greatest state in our great nation. There is no better place to live, work and raise a family. It is still a place where hard work and a belief in yourself can add up to success.
I grew up like a lot of little girls in Texas, without many advantages. My mother was a single mom with four kids and a 6thgrade education. And by the time I was a teenager, my life was beginning to look like hers. I was a single mom, too. I had a high school diploma, but no idea how to get ahead in life.
Education changed everything for me. Eventually I graduated from Harvard Law School and then had the honor of being elected to serve the people of Fort Worth in public office.
I was lucky enough to be able to make the choices in my life that I knew would work for me. And I don’t regret for one minute my decisions about my daughters, my education or my direction in life.
That’s what we are fighting for now—a Texas where every woman is able to overcome her unique challenges—because she has the same choices and the same chances I did.
For years, too many Texas politicians have tried to boost their careers by bullying women who need help with health care.
They have messed with the way Texas women can get cancer screenings or birth control—or even prenatal care. Those in power have turned down millions and millions of our federal dollars meant to help women here – simply because they wanted to hurt one organization committed to quality healthcare for women.
We have fought for years to convince these politicians that the best way to prevent unintended pregnancies is to give women real control of their lives—by investing in good family planning services and honest, effective, age appropriate sex education for our kids.
And we have fought to pay women equally so they can ultimately determine their own destinies.
That’s what we want to work for in the upcoming special session and we need your help.
United, responsible senators are now working to reintroduce the Texas equal-pay-for-equal-work bill because fair pay for our families is worth fighting for. Governor Perry vetoed this bill, essentially saying he believes women here don’t deserve it. He is wrong in so many ways.
This is not just about women—this is about our families and our values. Here in Texas, so many families depend on working moms AND dads. And both parents need to be paid fairly.
Let’s remind Rick Perry that fairness is—and always will be – a fundamental “Texas Value.”
Texans deserve someone who will stand up for them and their values. It shouldn’t be unusual for a public official to stand and fight for the men and women who elected them. It should be a job requirement.
But right now, our state is in trouble. Every single statewide office is held hostage by the kind of politician who cares more about their own future than that of their fellow Texans. So, it’s far too rare that young Texans realize their biggest dreams.
For the last decade, we have watched the politicians in power embarrass Texas and diminish our dreams on an almost daily basis. They have long forgotten what real Texans want or need, forgotten that lots of folks don’t agree with them on so many issues:
- They’ve forgotten their duty to represent all of us – folks who work hard every day,
- They’ve forgotten the people whose quality of life depends on the quality of state leadership,
- They’ve forgotten the down-to-earth Texans who count on politicians to care about them.
We need people in politics who love this place as much as the rest of us do – people who want to build a better Texas, not just bigger political résumés.
A great number of us have felt discouraged about the current state of affairs here. Some of us have felt mad. Today is different though, today we feel hope. We’ve had an opportunity to be inspired by each other’s actions in our democracy. We’ve witnessed how much we can accomplish when we reclaim our power and require accountability.
Texans are proud of their state. Texans are leaders. Together, Texans can move beyond partisan politics and create a future that includes all of our state. We’ve proven that, by working together, we can pass important bipartisan legislation such as equal pay for equal work.
The Promise of Texas is bigger than personal ambition and extremist interests—bigger than one political party. Together, we can do what they won’t—we can stand up for each other, stand up for what’s right—and stand up for Texas.