Michigan Republicans, War on Women — June 5, 2014 at 7:29 pm

Michigan Republicans can’t justify mocking women from the House floor


Unsurprisingly, they failed to offer a suitable explanation. The apology women deserve does not seem to be forthcoming.

After posing for a photo holding fashion magazines and insisting that they understand women, three Michigan Republicans have made no attempt to apologize for their insulting behavior. Of course, they tried to make excuses, but I don’t buy it. No one should.

Frankly, even if they did apologize (which I’m not holding my breath for), it would not erase the stench of misogyny that surrounds these legislators and their Republican cronies.

Time and time again, Michigan Republicans vote against the best interests of women.

They voted to enshrine a Right to Life-backed proposal into law that prevents women from getting insurance coverage for an abortion unless they buy a separate rider — a product that is not offered on the private insurance market in Michigan. So even victims of rape and incest have to pay out-of-pocket for abortion care, unless they’ve taken the humiliating step of asking their employer to add the coverage to insurance they get through work.

It was also Republicans who silenced Democrats Barb Byrum and Lisa Brown, both then Representatives, for speaking out on abortion and, most notably in Brown’s case, using the word “vagina.” Brown is now the Oakland County Clerk and candidate for Michigan Lt. Governor, and Byrum is now Ingham County Clerk. Byrum issued a statement following the release of the photo.

The war on women is alive and well in Michigan. Two years ago, the Republican Speaker of the House silenced me and Lisa Brown on the House floor during a debate on a bill to limit a women’s access to safe health care options. Now three Republican lawmakers today – all white men – made an open mockery of women on the House floor by posing with fashion magazines to showcase, in their words, that they understand women’s issues.

What’s even worse than their sexist and immature act today is that they’ve repeatedly voted for controversial legislation that restricts and limits the rights of Michigan women. What they fail to understand is that Michiganders really want them to stop focusing on restricting women’s rights and instead focus on real priorities, like creating jobs and fixing our roads.

These Republican lawmakers need to immediately apologize for their insulting and condescending behavior.

Byrum is not the only Democrat calling for an apology. Lon Johnson, Michigan Democratic Party chair, had this to say.

Turning the House floor into a frat house party is precisely the sort of thing that makes people ashamed of their Representatives. Rather than posing with glossy magazines to mock women and their concerns, Republican politicians Pettalia, Victory and Glardon should apologize for their out of touch Republican agenda that threatens women’s access to health care, and denies women equal pay for their hard work.

There’s been plenty of other condemnation, as I wrote in my previous post on this. There’s an abundance of outrage on social media, too.

With every hour that passes after the incident, Republicans make it increasingly clear that they do not, in fact, understand women. Not at all.

A statement issued by Rep. Petallia in an attempt to justify the deplorable behavior of Republican legislators left no doubt.

During a short break on the House floor, Republican Rep. Gail Haines, a leading advocate on women’s issues in the Legislature, gave some of us magazines to read and asked to take our photo with them.

A member of the media then walked up behind her and snapped another photo. As part of that lighthearted moment, I made an off-the-cuff remark that has since been taken way out of context.

The only joke here is Rep. Petallia’s preposterous statement.

First of all, Rep. Gail Haines is anything but a “leading advocate on women’s issues,” having voted in favor of the anti-women abortion insurance bill.

Even more to the point, Rep. Petallia’s remark was not out of context at all. There’s an abundance of context: A highly visible, rampant and unrelenting Republican war on women in Michigan.

UPDATE: About 24 hours after the photo was shared on Twitter, Michigan House Speaker Jase Bolger, a Republican, apologized in a prepared statement. You can read about it HERE.

[Image credit: Progress Michigan]