Democratic Senators Wendy Davis and Kirk Watson lead a rally before start of the special session. (Reuters/Mike Stone)
In the category of sentences I never thought I’d write, there is this: When it comes to a thrilling televised spectacle nothing beats sports, except perhaps a filibuster in the Texas state senate.
Like thousands of others, I was riveted to the live feed of Texas State Senator Wendy Davis’s filibuster aimed at keeping her colleagues from destroying women’s reproductive health in the state. I was frankly in awe of her marathon eloquence, physical endurance and cool head. She did it all while simultaneously having to explain Sex Education 101 to a room of ham-faced men who were taking an infuriating pride in their own ignorance.
Then with several hundred thousand others watching on the live feed, I careened from awe to depression to elation over the next hour. First, Wendy Davis was removed from the floor on specious grounds. It looked to all of us that this awful vote was going to be pushed through just before the midnight deadline. Then it was stopped at 11:45 pm by what will now be known forever as “the People’s Filibuster.”
For fifteen minutes the spirit of Molly Ivins came alive and the kickass women of Texas—along with their male allies—raised their voices and prevented a travesty. As the clock ticked toward midnight, and the smug, anti-choice men of the Texas State Senate developed a deathly pallor, we started to count down like it was New Year’s Eve. On Twitter, even the normally apolitical sports bloggers I follow were zeroed in like it was the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl.
Now the fight begins anew on July 15 as the Republican Senate again attempts to ram through the closure of most of the states clinics that perform abortions, and a mass march has been called that very day to protest their cowardly efforts. There is also a call for local demonstrations in cities across the country in solidarity with the reproductive rights community of Texas. In honor of this effort, I wanted to turn over my space to one of those kickass Texas women who seized the moment in June so she could take us inside “the People’s Filibuster” and talk about what’s next. I give you Katie Feyh.
It was like a wall of sound. I’ve never heard anything so loud in my life, or so powerful. I thought we might blow the doors off the Senate chamber. Throughout the day and night we had been quieted by Senate decorum rules and the caution of groups who understandably wanted to maintain a presence in the Senate gallery. But coming up on midnight we realized we had nothing left to lose. So we made noise. Lots of noise. I was up on the third floor of the rotunda just outside the Senate gallery. My friends were spread out on the first and second floors as well. We were all packed in tight, sweating from the heat, when the crowd began to roar. Before long, our ears rang with thousands of Texas women yelling, “Kill the bill!” and “Our bodies! Our choice!” The groups that had been holding back joined in and called for more. They, too, knew we had nothing left to lose.