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115,000 Signatures Delivered Demanding Apology from Speaker (MIRS)

MIRS CAPITOL CAPSULE, WEDNESDAY, JULY 18, 2012

Published: 07.18.12| Updated: 07.27.12

On the first session day since a speaking ban on two Democratic female House members raised a national rancor, women gathered for two rallies at the Capitol today in an effort to draw attention to women's issues.

The day kicked off with a rally led by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Democracy For America members, who joined Rep. Barb BYRUM (D-Onondaga) in delivering petitions demanding an apology from House Speaker Jase BOLGER (R-Marshall) and Majority Floor Leader Jim STAMAS (R-Midland).

They want an apology for Byrum and Rep. Lisa BROWN (D-West Bloomfield) being banned from speaking for one day on the House floor after comments they made during a debate about a bill placing more regulations on abortions.

At the rally on the Capitol steps, Byrum said she and Brown were silenced because they dared speak about issues that affect women.

"This is just another example of the majority party's misogynistic tactics," she said.

The group of more than a dozen people then walked the petitions to Bolger's office in the Capitol, where they delivered the stacks of paper to staff. The petitions contained more than 115,000 signatures demanding a public apology.

Some of the women who helped deliver the petitions sat in the gallery above the House floor as session started. At one point a few of them broke out singing a rendition of The Beatles song "She Loves You" in which they changed the chorus to "Vagina, yeah, yeah, yeah."

Byrum tweeted today about some unnamed Republicans telling her and her family that she should be embarrassed about the events related to the ban.

"I embarrassed myself? Look in the mirror and try again . . ." she tweeted.

A second rally aiming to bring attention to women's issues was held later in the morning.

The bill Byrum and Brown spoke out against came up again at the rally.

"What they are trying to do is make women go back," said the CEO of Michigan Planned Parenthood Lori LAMERAND regarding the legislation.

Pro-life GOP Sen. Jack BRANDENBURG (R-Macomb County) countered, "Nobody is after anybody's rights."  

He said what they are attempting to do with the abortion regulations bill that cleared the House is "protect the unborn."

The rally opened with a number of women in a circle with a male guitar player singing a take on the tune "Oh, Susanna." 

"I came from a vagina, just like every one you see," they sang in unison.

The pro-choice movement is well aware that Michigan Right to Life has enough votes to pass this legislation, but Lamerand is holding out hope that Gov. Rick SNYDER will assert some influence on the final product and prevent it from "going too far."  

Private talks with the Snyder administration have been held and a source discloses that many Ann Arbor Planned Parenthood members, described as "friends of Rick Snyder," have been enlisted to make the case against these bills to the governor.  

So far he has not said anything publicly about the package, but MIRS did report, based on a confidential source, that the governor told House Republicans he would oppose the bill that imposes a 20-week limit on abortions. That bill was quietly stalled in the House as another bill in the package moved to the Senate.

The push for attention to women's issues continued on the House floor later that day.

Byrum made an attempt to discharge a bill from committee that addresses pay equity, HB 4611.

Byrum was recognized to make the motion to discharge, which failed, but was not given a chance to speak to the content of the bill.

"House Republicans decided again to not let me speak today on the House Floor, but they can't stop millions of Michigan women from speaking out in November," Byrum said. "The women of this state want leaders who share their priorities, including fair pay, access to women's health care and a fair tax system for their families. These are values House Republicans don't share with us."

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