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Today marks the 92nd anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, certified on August 26, 1920 commemorating a woman's right to vote. In 1971 Bella Abzug introduced legislation, which was passed by Congress, designating this date as Women's Equality Day.
Some of you may not know that women had the right to vote in some states during the 1770s, but by 1784 women began losing that right state by state. New Jersey was the last state to revoke voting rights for women in 1807.
Although the suffrage amendment was first introduced in Congress in 1878, it took until 1918 for the House to pass it and 1919 for the Senate to pass it as well. The law then required ratification of three-quarters of the states and in August of 1920 the man holding the crucial vote was a young Tennessean, Harry Burn.
Burn had supported and voted with the anti-suffrage forces, but his mother wrote him a letter begging him to vote for suffrage. When it came time for his vote he realized that an anti-suffrage vote would produce a 48-48 tie and decided to vote as his mother had urged him. So it was on August 18, 1920, Tennessee became the 36th and deciding state needed for ratification and eight days later, the 19th amendment became law.
History is an odd thing. In this 1999 Letter to the Editor, by Jo Freeman entitled Gender Gaps in Presidential Elections it is shown that the first voting gender gap was noted in the 1928 presidential election with reports indicating that women were ten percent more likely to vote than men.
As this letter points out, women will vote with the party that supports the promotion of their rights:
What's notable about this history is not merely that there was a gender gap prior to 1980, but that the pattern shifted. Previously the Republican Party had been the beneficiary of woman suffrage; subsequently the Democratic Party was. Furthermore, this change correlates with different attitudes by the national parties toward women and women's rights. While partisan differences were not large prior to 1980, they were present. Historically, it was the Republican Party that was the party of women's rights, and the Democratic Party that was the home of anti-feminism. After the new feminist movement rose in the 1960s-70s, the parties switched sides.Women are more reliable voters than men -- in the 2004 Presidential Election 54% of women voted as opposed to 46% of men voting and in the 2008 Presidential Election 53% of women voted vs 47% of men.
Clearly the Democrats support women's rights and just as clearly the Republicans do not. The GOP has shifted so far into extremism that I have begun to wonder that should they gain enough control and enact the abortion/birth control legislation they favor, if our voting rights just might be next under their guillotine.
Just take a look at a sampling of current news headlines:
Let me note that with the exception of three articles, all of the above headlines have appeared within the last 82 days. What is shocking is the GOP's assertion that there is no "War on Women". Wrong again, GOP, the only made up war is your friend, Bill O'Reilly's "War on Christmas".
I want to leave you with something powerful. This diary, A Mother's Day Conversation by JeffLieber was published in 2009. It is short and to the point. I have linked to it several times and it never fails to stir that determination deep inside me to ensure my daughters and granddaughters never have to live without a choice.